Redfish, or Channel Bass or Red Drum, is a highly popular saltwater sport fish in Florida. They can be found in various East and Gulf Coast locations. In the Atlantic Ocean, they are distributed from Massachusetts to Florida, while in the Gulf of Mexico, they are commonly found from Florida to Northern Mexico.
Redfish, also known as red drum, is a popular game fish species found in Florida’s coastal waters, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Redfish are known for their distinctive copper-colored bodies and black spots on their tails. Anglers prize them for their strength, speed, and challenging fight.
In Florida, redfish can be found in various habitats, including estuaries, bays, tidal creeks, mangroves, and grass flats. They are typically caught using various fishing techniques, including baitcasting, spinning, and fly fishing.
Redfish are known to feed on a variety of prey, including shrimp, crabs, mullet, and other small fish. Many anglers use live or cut bait such as shrimp, mullet, or pinfish to target redfish, although they can also be caught using artificial lures such as spoons, soft plastic baits, and topwater plugs.
Where are Redfish in Florida?
Flats fishing for redfish is great in most of the coastal waters of West Central Florida, including Clearwater, Tampa Bay, Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs, St. Petersburg, Sarasota Bay, and Spring Hill where you can find decent-sized redfish schools.
The adult redfish usually migrate to deeper waters for spawning and can be seen in large groups. While they may occasionally visit coastal rivers throughout the year in small numbers, they tend to gather in these areas during the winter months when they are looking for warmer water.
Mosquito Lagoon is a shallow lagoon located on Florida’s east coast known for its large redfish. The lagoon is located between New Smyrna Beach and Titusville. It is home to red drum, snook, tarpon, and sea trout. Mosquito lagoon is a great spot for sight-casting and fly fishing as the fish feed on nearshore and offshore grass beds.
Mosquito Lagoon is a great spot for fishing redfish in Florida. Here are some areas where you can fish for redfish in Mosquito Lagoon:
The canal connects Mosquito Lagoon with the Indian River and is a popular spot for fishing. You can find redfish in the shallow waters near the shoreline.
Located in the northern part of Mosquito Lagoon, Tiger Shoals is a great spot for catching redfish. Look for them in the deeper channels and around the grass flats.
North and South shorelines
The shorelines on the north and south sides of Mosquito Lagoon are great places to catch redfish. Fish around the oyster beds and mangroves for the best results.
Whale Tail Island
This island is located in the middle of Mosquito Lagoon and is surrounded by grass flats. Redfish can be found here in the shallow waters around the island.
Remember to follow local fishing regulations and obtain any necessary permits before fishing in Mosquito Lagoon. It’s also a good idea to hire a local guide to show you the best spots and advise you on the best bait and tackle to use.
Tampa Bay is home to a large redfish population, and the area around the mangrove islands is particularly productive. The best time to fish for redfish in the Tampa Bay area is summer and fall. This vast bay is filled with fish and features grass flats, mangrove shorelines, and impressive oyster beds.
Sebastian Inlet is located on Florida’s east coast, near Melbourne Beach. It’s one of the most popular fishing spots in the state and is known for its large population of redfish. The inlet is also home to snook, tarpon, and sea trout. Fishing in the Sebastian Inlet can be done from shore or by boat.
Indian River Lagoon
The Indian River Lagoon is a large estuary that runs along Florida’s east coast, and it’s home to some of the largest redfish in the state. The lagoon has plenty of shallow waters and grass beds, making it an ideal spot for sight-casting.
Charlotte Harbor is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast and is home to a variety of fish species, including redfish. The harbor is also known for its mangrove islands, which makes it a great spot for sight-casting. Fishing in Charlotte Harbor can be done from the shore or from a boat.
Apalachicola Bay is located in the Florida panhandle and is known for its abundant redfish population. The bay is home to an array of different fish species, including redfish, tarpon, snook, and sea trout. Fishing in Apalachicola Bay can be done from shore or by boat.
It’s important to note that redfish populations can vary depending on the time of year and weather conditions. It’s always a good idea to research the area you plan to fish in and check local fishing reports to increase your chances of a successful catch.
The Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier is a popular spot for fishing and sightseeing. It extends over 1,450 feet into the Gulf of Mexico and offers panoramic views of the beach, ocean, and surrounding area. The pier is open 24/7 and is a great place to catch fish such as redfish, flounder, and Spanish mackerel.
Key Tips for Catching Redtail Fish
During the Fall and Summer seasons, it is easier to catch them when they are always hungry. You can use shrimp, mullet, or imitation bait they are attracted to for live bait. Meanwhile, in the Winter and Spring seasons, mullet, croaker, and pinfish are your best options.
Redfish behavior in shallow water is affected by the tides, making it crucial for anglers to consider this when fishing. Although redfish can be caught in various depths, their location and behavior will dictate the fishing method.
Redfish tend to move to shallow flats during high tide, also called flood tide, and to deeper drop-offs during low tide.
Use the right bait
Redfish are known to eat a variety of bait, including crab, shrimp or mullet. Use the right bait to attract them. For example, in shallow waters, live shrimp works best as they’re easy to spot and extremely attractive to redfish.
You will want to use artificial lures or bigger baits like pinfish or mullet in deeper water. These baits are more visible in deeper waters and can be used to attract larger redfish.
Sight fishing technique
Sight fishing is a type of fishing technique where an angler actively looks for fish in the water and targets them visually rather than relying solely on other senses or equipment, such as using bait or lures. Sight fishing is typically done in clear water, where the angler can visually spot fish, usually near the surface or in shallow water.
Look for structure
Redfish hang out around structures such as oyster bars, grass flats, and mangroves. Look for these structures when fishing and target them with your bait. These spots provide redfish with plenty of food, making them more likely to be in the area.
Time your fishing
Redfish are more active during certain times of the day. Early morning and late afternoon are good times to fish for redfish, especially during the summer when the water temperature is warmer. Fishing during these times will increase your chances of success.
Redfish have excellent eyesight and are easily spooked. Approach your fishing spot quietly and avoid making sudden movements or loud noises that can scare them away. Always keep your movements slow and steady when fishing for redfish.
Pay attention to the tides
Redfish are often more active during incoming or outgoing tides. Look for areas where the water moves and target those spots with your bait. Fishing during the peak of a tide can also be very productive.
Use the right gear
Redfish can be strong fighters, so make sure you have the right gear to handle them. Use a medium-heavy rod and reel with a braided line and a fluorocarbon leader. This will give you the power and strength to handle larger redfish.
Practice catch and release
Redfish are a popular game fish in Florida but are also an important part of the ecosystem. When fishing for redfish, practice catch and release to help maintain healthy populations for future generations.
Redfish vs Black Drums
The Redfish are often confused with Black Drums. Redfish, also known as red drum, typically have a reddish-bronze color on their backs with a white belly, and they have a distinctive black spot, known as a “redfish spot,” located near their tail. They have a single, large spot on each side, which is one of their identifying features.
On the other hand, black drums are darker in color, usually ranging from gray to black, and they have vertical stripes or bars on their sides. Black drums also has a chin barbel or whisker-like appendage near their mouth, which is absent in redfish.
It’s important to be familiar with Florida’s fishing regulations and size limits for redfish, as they are subject to state and federal regulations to protect their population. In Florida, the slot limit for redfish is typically between 18 to 27 inches total length, with a bag limit of one fish per angler per day in most areas.
Is there a Redfish season in Florida?
Redfish can be caught legally in Florida all year long as there is no closed season for them. Although they are available all year, the ideal time to catch them is during autumn.
Are Florida Redfish good to eat?
Yes, redfish are considered to be good to eat in Florida. Redfish have firm, white flesh that is mild and slightly sweet in flavor, making them a popular choice for seafood enthusiasts. The flesh has a medium texture that is not too delicate, allowing for various cooking methods, such as grilling, baking, frying, or blackening.
As with any seafood, it’s also important to be mindful of potential health advisories related to water quality and environmental contaminants. Checking the Florida Department of Health’s website for any advisories or closures in the area where you plan to fish is a good practice to ensure the safety of the fish you intend to consume.
Redfish are a popular target for catch-and-release fishing, as they are a valuable sport fish and a key component of Florida’s coastal ecosystems. Anglers are encouraged to practice responsible fishing practices, including handling fish carefully, using circle hooks to reduce hooking mortality, and releasing oversized or undersized redfish unharmed.
As with any fishing activity, it’s important to have a valid Florida fishing license and to follow all relevant fishing regulations and guidelines to ensure sustainable fishing practices and protect Florida’s valuable fishery resources.