The redfish is one of the most famous and sought-after coastal wild fish in the Gulf of Mexico and on the east coast. Read on to find out more about this legendary saltwater catch.
Redfish, or red drums as they are officially known, are known for their stubborn fighting and distinctive spotted tail. Fishermen and women tackle redfish in the Texas surf, southern Louisiana swamps, Florida Keys hinterland, and South Carolina floods. And they’re up against the giant Bull Reds of the North Carolina Outer Banks.
There are as many wonderful redfish areas as there are ways to catch them. Here we are going to cover the basics of the redfish, how to target them yourself, and where to meet with a guide to capture one of these incredible creatures in their natural habitat.
Redfish, also known as the red drum
An epic trophy bull caught off the coast of Louisiana. Note that several such spots are rare. Photo courtesy: Travel South Outfitters
The red drum is known by a few nicknames, with redfish being one of the most popular. But when an angler talks about sewer bass, puppy drum, spot-tail bass, or just plain red, they’re all talking about the same thing.
Male redfish – also called bulls – belong to the drum family and make a drumming with their swim bladders during spawning. This happens mid-August through October and can make for some of the most lucrative times to fish for these big bulls.
Redfish can live up to 60 years, but they usually mature by 3 to 4 years of age. The length at the time of maturity is typically 28 inches for males and around 33 inches for females. At this point the weight will vary but is often around 10 pounds.
Trophy redfish weigh a lot more, and the largest redfish ever was 57 inches tall and weighed 94 pounds, 2 ounces. And this fish was caught surf fishing off Hatteras, North Carolina in 1984.
Don’t expect 94 pounds at the end of your line, however. What to expect is a hard-fighting saltwater wild fish with a large black spot near its tail that makes for great table fare if you are not legally required to release the fish.
Red wines are exceptional eaters and have a varied diet of mullet, menhaden, crab, live shrimp, Atlantic croaker, mud minnows, and much more.
How to catch redfish
Redfish are a great target in much of their range Surf angler. Whether you’re fishing coastal waters in Texas or North Carolina (or almost anywhere else), the process is similar.
Pick up a live mullet or large piece of cut bait and toss it into the surf. The rig generally consists of a 50 or 60 pound leader, a circle hook, and a pyramid sinker to hold the line in place.
You can throw four or five rods into the water, placing each in a rod holder and waiting for the rod to arch over the line, screaming. When the redfish runs in the surf every fall it is a great sport.
Site casting of a skiff
Throwing on-site to catch red wines in shallow water is a popular pastime for many anglers. Not only can you target large fish in shallow water with a light spinning device, but you can also target them on the fly.
The specifics vary a little depending on the region, but the tell-tale signs are the same. Boats navigate flat plains or bays looking for redfish (fish with tail fins sticking out of the water), schools of fish – characterized by mud clouds, bait scattering, or sometimes schools of birds – or roaming schools.
When you find the fish, throw the bait in place and hold it in place.
Where to catch a redfish
The author with a younger red drum from Florida Bay
See fishing in the Florida Keys
Captain Mark Cockerham can polish the flats around Islamorada and bet you on schools of redfish mixed with snook, tarpon, speckled trout, sharks and sometimes even permit and bonefish. It’s a particularly exciting fishing brand that combines exotic and beautiful landscapes with the ubiquitous opportunity to catch giant fish (of all kinds).
It’s as cool as it gets to watch a redfish load a swim lure in gin-clear water. Depending on the action, you can catch five or six species in a day.
Redfish in Charleston, South Carolina
When sight-fishing for red wines in Charleston, South Carolina, the tides are carried out in grassy areas. At the right tide you can spot redfish lurking in really shallow water. To see a redfish tail sticking out of the shallow water that was dry land 20 minutes before the high tide is a great experience.
You can also catch the fish here in channels and bays that target oyster beds or other structures. Captain Jamie Hough of Redfish Mafia Charters is a good choice here.
The added benefit of fishing is its proximity to Charleston and all it has to offer. You can easily add a day of red fishing to a family vacation or incorporate something incredible Restaurants for a fishing trip.
Catch of Bull Redfish on Topwaters, Louisiana
Perhaps the most touted fishery is in the swamps of southern Louisiana off the Gulf Coast. Captains Eric and Moe Newman are a married couple owned by Captains Eric and Moe Newman Travel South Outfitters in Venice, Louisiana.
“We specialize in catching Bull Reds. We said goodbye to Slot Redfish Limit Trips. We focus on trophy red fishing on topwaters, swimbaits and scatter baits, ”said Captain Eric.
Newman says the fishing in his area is great year round and classifies a redfish bull as a trophy fish 32 inches or longer. “The peak of trophy red-fishing is between July and August and between October, November and December.”
Captain Eric takes his customers on a “technical boat”. There, visitors usually see fish in ponds and bays, and the trip also includes blind casting for bait. According to him, a really good day results in catching 50 large fish that are between 15 and 40 pounds.
“Some days we catch her walking the dog,” Newman explains, explaining how the bait looks like an injured fish escaping at random. “Other days we’ll catch them throwing Whopper Plopper by River2Sea. The bait was invented by Larry Dahlberg – He fished with us in 2010. It’s meant for musk, but the redfish love it. “
How to cook redfish
Before you cook a redfish, it is essential to know the legality of the waters that you are fishing if you want to keep a redfish. Not all reds are legal to own, which means some will have to be released back into the water as soon as they are caught.
However, if you catch a fish that is legal to own, it will be among the best on the coast. The younger and smaller of these saltwater fish tend to eat better.
Many anglers opt for an electric fillet knife – like this BUBBA cordless filleting knife – how the scales of this fish can cut through animal.
From there, the red drum has a mild, sweeter taste with a medium-firm texture. It’s delicious when cooked in a variety of ways, from grilling to roasting to poaching. Many people prefer Cajun style redfish, but you can get very creative in making red wines the way you want.
Red drum: a noble pursuit
Angler with a bull redfish from Charleston, SC; Photo credit: Jeremy Clark
No matter how or where you fish for them, red drums are a noble proposition. These wonderful creatures are some of the most accessible saltwater wild fish on land in the United States.
All redfish fight hard. They grow tall – over 60 pounds in some places, 40 more common in others. You will also eat a variety of natural and man-made baits.
Redfish are also a great destination for getting kids to fish. After all, a surf fishing trip can be a beach day, with the bonus of some nice fish at the end of the line for parents who love to mix fishing with sandcastles.