Redfish Fishing – Know the Species

February 12, 2023
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Redfish, a sought-after game fish, are found in coastal areas of the US. They are known for their strength and fighting ability. To catch redfish, use the best bait and lures, the best time and place to catch them, and the right gear. Fishing techniques include live bait, artificial lures, and fly fishing. Be patient, use a strong hook, and keep the line tight.

Redfish, also known as red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), are a highly sought-after game fish that can be found in many coastal areas of the United States. Known for their strength and fighting ability, redfish are a challenging catch for both novice and experienced anglers alike. In this article, we will provide you with tips and techniques on how to catch redfish, including the best bait and lures to use, the best time and place to catch them, and the gear you will need. We will also cover how to fillet a redfish so that you can enjoy your catch as a delicious meal. It's important to note that using the correct gear is essential for a successful redfish fishing trip, and we'll discuss this in more detail as we go along. So, whether you're a seasoned angler or a beginner, read on to learn more about redfish fishing!

How to Catch Redfish

To learn how to catch redfish from some of the very best inshore fishing guides, our collection of Redfish Fishing Videos offer a whole host of tactics, techniques, rigs and gear knowledge.

A. Best Time and Place to Catch Redfish

Redfish can be caught year-round, but the best time to catch them varies depending on the location. In general, redfish prefer warmer waters and can be found in shallow coastal areas such as bays, estuaries, and marshes. The best time to catch redfish is during low tide, when they tend to congregate in deeper channels and drop-offs. Redfish are also more active during early morning and late afternoon, so plan your fishing trips accordingly.

B. Fishing Techniques and Tips

There are several techniques that can be used to catch redfish, including live bait, artificial lures, and fly fishing. One effective method is to use live bait such as pinfish, mullet, or shrimp, which can be rigged using a popping cork or Carolina rig. Another popular technique is to use artificial lures such as soft plastics, spoons, or topwater lures.

When using topwater lures, it's important to use a slow retrieve and wait for the redfish to fully commit to the bait before setting the hook.

When fishing for redfish, it's important to be patient and let the fish take the bait before setting the hook. Redfish have a hard mouth, so it's important to use a strong hook and set it firmly. It's also important to keep the line tight and to be ready for the fish to make a sudden run.

C. Importance of Understanding Redfish Behavior

Understanding redfish behavior can greatly increase your chances of catching them. Redfish are bottom feeders and prefer to feed on crustaceans, baitfish, and other small organisms found on the bottom. They also tend to congregate around oyster bars, grass beds, and other underwater structures.

D. Regulations for Catching and Keeping Redfish

It's important to follow local fishing regulations when catching and keeping redfish. In some areas, there may be size and bag limits, as well as restrictions on the use of certain bait and lures. Additionally, some areas may have catch-and-release requirements for redfish. Be sure to check with local authorities before going fishing to ensure that you are following all regulations.

FWC Redfish

Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries

Texas Parks & Wildlife

Popular Redfish Fishing Locations

A. Overview of the Best Inshore Fishing Locations

Redfish can be found in many coastal areas throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast. Some of the best inshore fishing locations for redfish include Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. These areas offer a variety of fishing options, from shallow flats to deep channels, and are home to some of the largest redfish in the world.

B. Redfish Fishing in Florida

Florida is a popular destination for redfish fishing, with many hotspots throughout the state. Some of the best areas to catch redfish in Florida include the Indian River Lagoon, Mosquito Lagoon, Tampa Bay, and the Florida Panhandle. In these areas, anglers can use a variety of techniques to catch redfish, including live bait, artificial lures, and fly fishing.

C. Redfish Fishing in Louisiana

Louisiana is known for its excellent redfish fishing, with many world-class fishing destinations along the Gulf Coast. Some of the best areas to catch redfish in Louisiana include the Calcasieu Estuary, the marshes of Lafitte and Barataria, and the Mississippi River Delta. In these areas, anglers can catch both slot-size and bull redfish using a variety of techniques, including live bait, artificial lures, and fly fishing.

D. Redfish Fishing in Texas

Texas is another great destination for redfish fishing, with many excellent fishing locations along the Gulf Coast. Some of the best areas to catch redfish in Texas include the Laguna Madre, the Upper and Lower Laguna Madre, and the Galveston Bay complex. In these areas, anglers can use a variety of techniques to catch redfish, including live bait, artificial lures, and fly fishing.

No matter where you choose to fish for redfish, it's important to research the local regulations and conditions before you go. Be sure to check the tides, weather, and other factors that may impact your fishing trip. With the right gear and techniques, you can have a successful and rewarding redfish fishing experience.

Bait and Lures for Redfish

A. Best Bait for Redfish

When it comes to bait, redfish will eat a variety of live and cut baits. Some of the best baits for redfish include live shrimp, live mullet, live croakers, and cut bait such as menhaden or mullet. Anglers can also use other small live baitfish, such as pinfish or grunts, to entice redfish to bite.

Learn more about Best Live Bait Tactics For Redfish

B. Best Artificial Lures for Redfish

Artificial lures can also be effective for catching redfish. Some of the best lures for redfish include soft plastics, topwater plugs, and spoons. Soft plastic baits, such as swimbaits or paddle tails, can be rigged weedless and worked along the bottom or through grassy areas. Topwater plugs, such as poppers or walk-the-dog lures, can be used to create surface commotion and entice redfish to strike. Spoons are also effective for covering a lot of water quickly and can be worked through the water column.

C. How to Rig Live Bait for Redfish

When rigging live bait for redfish, it's important to use a leader and a hook that is appropriate for the size of the bait. For smaller live baitfish, a circle hook or J-hook can be used, while larger baitfish may require a larger hook or even a treble hook. The leader should be long enough to allow the bait to move naturally in the water and should be tied to the main line using a strong knot, such as a uni knot or improved clinch knot.

Overall, the key to successful bait and lure selection for redfish is to match the presentation to the conditions and the behavior of the fish. Be sure to experiment with different baits and lures to find what works best in your local fishing area.

Live bait is lethal for redfish, but you need to understand which baits work well and why, plus how to rig live baits for redfish. Watch this video, Redfish Live Bait | William Toney , for pro level skills.

Redfish Fishing Gear

A. Fishing Lines and Reels

When targeting redfish, it's important to use a strong and durable fishing line that can handle the weight and power of the fish. Monofilament or braided lines with a test strength of 15 to 30 pounds are typically recommended for redfish fishing. In terms of reels, spinning reels or baitcasting reels are both effective options.

B. Fishing Rods

A medium-heavy to heavy action fishing rod with a length of 7 to 8 feet is typically recommended for redfish fishing. The rod should have enough backbone to handle the weight and power of the fish, while still being sensitive enough to detect bites.

C. Recommended Hook Size for Redfish

The recommended hook size for redfish can vary depending on the size of the fish and the bait being used. In general, a 3/0 to 5/0 circle hook or J-hook is a good choice for redfish fishing.

D. Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Hook Size

When choosing the right hook size for redfish, it's important to consider the size of the bait being used, as well as the size of the fish you are targeting. A hook that is too small may not be able to hold onto the bait or may not be strong enough to handle the weight of the fish, while a hook that is too large may be more difficult for the fish to take and may impede the bait's natural movement.

E. Fishing Knots

Strong and reliable fishing knots are essential when targeting redfish. The uni knot and improved clinch knot are both popular and effective knots for attaching hooks and leaders to the main line.

F. Rigs

There are several different types of rigs that can be used for redfish fishing, including Carolina rigs, popping cork rigs, and jig heads. Each rig is designed to present the bait or lure in a different way and may be more effective in certain conditions or with certain types of bait.

Popping cork rigs are pure magic for catching red drum. Watch to learn more Cork Rig Fishing For Redfish

D. Importance of Having the Correct Gear for Redfish Fishing

Having the correct gear for redfish fishing is essential to ensure a successful and enjoyable fishing experience. Using the right fishing line, rod, hook, and rig can increase your chances of hooking and landing redfish. Additionally, having the right gear can help you to effectively target and present your bait or lure to the fish, improving your chances of success.

Step-by-step instructions for filleting a redfish

  1. Scaling the fish: Before filleting a redfish, you'll want to scale it first. This can be done with a fish scaler or a knife. Hold the fish by the head and use the scaler or knife to remove the scales by scraping against the grain of the scales, from the tail to the head. Be sure to scale the entire fish, including the area behind the gills and the belly.
  2. Removing the head: Once the fish is scaled, lay it on its side and use a sharp knife to make a cut behind the gills and down to the backbone. Turn the knife towards the head and make a cut all the way through to the backbone, separating the head from the body. Repeat on the other side.
  3. Making the first cut: With the head removed, you can now start filleting the fish. Place the fish on its side and make a cut just behind the gills and down to the backbone. The blade of your knife should follow the contours of the fish's rib cage. Repeat the cut on the other side of the fish.
  4. Removing the fillet from the rib cage: With the first cut made, use your knife to separate the fillet from the rib cage. Starting at the head end of the fish, insert the knife between the flesh and the rib bones, and cut along the backbone towards the tail, keeping the blade flat against the bones. Use a sawing motion to cut the fillet away from the bones, angling the knife towards the tail as you go. Repeat the process on the other side of the fish.
  5. Removing the skin from the fillet: With both fillets removed, you'll now need to remove the skin. Place the fillet skin-side down on a cutting board. Using a sharp filleting knife, start at the tail end of the fillet and make a small cut between the flesh and the skin. Hold the skin with one hand and use the knife to cut along the length of the fillet, separating the flesh from the skin. Repeat the process on the other fillet.
  6. Removing the rib bones from the fillet: Once the skin is removed, you'll need to remove the rib bones from the fillet. Starting at the head end of the fillet, run your finger along the top of the bones to locate them. Use a pair of pliers or tweezers to grip the bones and pull them away from the flesh. Repeat the process on the other fillet.

Tips for filleting a redfish

  1. Keeping the knife sharp: A sharp filleting knife will make the process of filleting a redfish much easier and safer. Be sure to sharpen your knife before starting and keep it sharp throughout the process.
  2. Taking care with the bones: Redfish have a lot of small bones that can be difficult to remove. Take your time and be careful when removing the rib bones to avoid leaving any small bones in the fillet.
  3. Using gloves for grip: A redfish can be a slippery fish to handle, especially when you're trying to remove the skin. Consider using gloves to improve your grip and reduce the risk of injury.
  4. Keeping the fillets clean: Be sure to keep your fillets clean by rinsing them with cold water after filleting. This will help remove any remaining scales or bone fragments.
  5. Using the carcass for bait: Redfish carcasses can make excellent bait for other species of fish. Consider saving the carcass to use for bait on your next fishing trip.

To learn precise filleting skills for redfish, watch here How to Fillet Redfish and Sea Trout

Redfish fishing is an exciting and rewarding experience that requires the right knowledge, techniques, and gear. To catch redfish successfully, it's essential to understand their behavior, the best time and place to fish for them, and the regulations that apply in your area. You should also use the right bait and lures and have the correct gear, including the appropriate fishing lines, reels, rods, hooks, knots, and rigs.

Filleting a redfish can be a bit challenging, but it's worth the effort to enjoy the delicious and healthy meat that this species provides. By following the step-by-step instructions and tips we've shared, you can fillet your redfish easily and efficiently.

We hope that this article has provided you with valuable information and inspiration to try redfish fishing. Whether you're in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, or other popular redfish fishing locations, or you're using the best bait for redfish or artificial lures, remember to respect the fish and the environment, follow the regulations, and have fun!

Seth Horne

Editorial Director

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