REDFISH fishing techniques  

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                     HOW TO CATCH REDFISH


                 How To Catch Big Redfish

   Regardless if you are fishing the shallow flats with pot holes to creeks and river mouths that flow into the flats, Redfish can be a very reliable fish species to target on your fishing trips.  Redfish are on of the main ingredients of the Gulf Coast inshore slam, consisting of the Snook, Redfish and Seatrout. There are also many near shore mangrove islands where the red fishing can be outstanding. The key to fishing for redfish is to locate where the fish are during the season and time of day you are fishing. Redfish can be caught throughout the entire year on redfish lures and a variety of live baits.

                                     How To Catch Redfish

                      Redfish Fishing Techniques

   Redfish often school out around oyster bars, or deeper depressions in the surrounding areas. These areas can have sand or mud bottoms and Redfish tend to hand out in these areas in the early incoming or later outgoing tides. These are great times to do some push polling to explore the area. Redfish use these areas as staging areas prior to entering the shallow flats. Redfish will leave the flats as soon as the water level starts drops significantly. Fish the flats in spring and early summer after they have had a chance to warm up some. On cooler spring days the Redfish and Sea trout will lay on the warm flats waiting for an ambush opportunity. Look for periods where the weather has been warming up for three days after a cooler spell. Search out areas where oyster, rocks, drain pipes or other structure is above the water on low tides. This structure will retain heat and attract fish when the higher tides come in. Where the redfish are camping out changes with the seasons and the time of day. Not to mention the effect the moon and tides have on red fishing. Starting in late February and through March the redfish will start hitting lures because the water is generally too cool for baitfish to accumulate in the flats. With the lack of sufficient baitfish for feeding the redfish will chase many redfish lures a great distance to strike them. Jigs, rubber stick baits, top water and shallow divers all work well at times. Redfish will continue to feed on artificial redfish lures up through April and into May at times, but it will depend on the arriving shiner and pinfish populations. Once the local baitfish population increases it will become more difficult to catch redfish on redfish lures. You can still catch them but you will have make a more effort and you will have to focus on the right tide conditions and moon phases to be productive.

   Try rigging 8 lb mono and a Redfish shrimp lure to fish along mangroves and pot holes. You can combine artificial redfish lures and live or cut bait to enhance your fishing results for redfish. Put a small piece of shrimp on your jig hook. Not so much that you effect the lure action. when you cast it our let it sit for a few minutes to disperse the shrimp smell in the water. this will attract redfish from deep inside the mangroves at hi flooding tides. As the summer progresses through July and August the red fishing will become better and better for live bait fishing with September reported by many as the absolute best month for red fishing. Flavoring your redfish lures with a pinch of shrimp will increase your chances of hooking up with a redfish during the hotter months.

   Many fishing guides use chunks of cut meat during this time of the year and just pitch them out in the holes in the flats or under the mangroves. Then they wait for the redfish to find the bait. You can catch some monster redfish this way. You will occasionally catch a big snook this was also.


                                    Redfish Fishing Tips

    Redfish Techniques -  Redfish are very aggressive fish and will chase a lure 25 to 50 feet to snatch it up. The strike is very powerful and Redfish will often run parallel to the mangroves during the hookup, unlike Snook that will head back into the mangroves and break you off on the barnacles and shells attached to the mangrove roots. The key when fishing near mangroves is to lay your rod down to the side the fish is running on. If a redfish strikes and runs to your left along the mangroves, drop your rod to your left and crank like crazy to get all the slack out of your line and the fish heading more to the left. If you lay your rod to the right side instead, you will pull the fish back into the mangroves and he will break off on the barnacles.

     Try light line in the 8 to 10 lb class for redfish using artificial lures and beach your boat and wade fish. Look out for the sting rays buried in the sandy flats. Keep your feet in contact with the bottom and push your feet in front of your pathway. This will flush out any sting rays that you might step on. The light line allows you to make long accurate casts with a jig into and underneath the overhanging mangroves.

     Another redfish fishing method  is to sight fish. There is nothing that compared to sight fishing for redfish. Your boat will need a push pole and the ability to fish in shallow (skinny) water. Typically your boat will need to draft less than a foot to be successful at site fishing for redfish. The sight fishing technique is actually very simple. You need to use your topographic fishing charts or maps to locate areas where tidal rivers run into bays. You can also find skinny water areas in backwater areas where there are some sandy pot holes surrounded by grass. It is important to get as close to your desired sight fishing area prior to the tide coming in. Also look for days when there is a very low tide and a higher than normal flooding tide. If you are in the neighborhood of your selected area when the tide starts flooding the flats, you can slowly work your way into skinny backwater areas as the tide comes in.

 * Note - It is critical that you leave shallow areas like this before the tide goes back out or you could find yourself stranded in the back country.

     You will be OK as long as you don't start catching fish and forget you need to evacuate the area when the tides start going back out. Search the shoreline for black logs (lying fish waiting on a meal). The Redfish, Snook and Tarpon will be either in the lighter colored pot holes in the shallow flats or along the shoreline. They look just like dark long objects and can be mistaken for sunken logs. Make your cast slightly past the fish so you can retrieve the lure naturally past them. Let the lure stop in the area of the fish and then twitch it to lure the fish into a strike. On some days the back waters will be loaded with fish you can sight cast to. Using Polaroid glasses are a must for this type of fishing. Having the sun directly overhead can also help identify the fish. Cloudy days can be more difficult depending on the water conditions.

     Fishing for tailing reds is another redfish technique that can be very productive. You need to find shallow water areas near a sandbar or oyster bar. The redfish schools will be feeding with their heads buried in the bottom and their tails coming out of the water. Oftentimes you can see dozens of redfish feeding this way in the early morning or late afternoon is best. Fish tailing reds similar to sight fishing redfish. Cast a small 1/4 on jig with a shrimp imitation or a real shrimp a few feet past tailing reds and retrieve the lure past the tailing reds. don't be surprised if you have to work hard to get the redfish's attention while they are feeding this way.

  The tailing reds will be making considerable noise themselves and may not hear your lure. With their heads buried in the bottom they may not also see your lure. this can be some very product fishing on full moons. Use a longer rod so you can make long casts and lighter mono fishing line in the 8 - 10 lb test. By keeping your distance from tailing redfish you can sometimes follow them around for hours casting to them. Tailing and sight fishing is a great fishing method to use with a Kayak.    Try free lining this artificial shrimp.

                     lures that catch redfish

                  Night Fishing For Big Redfish

 Night Fishing -  One of the best baits for redfish is a simple rubber bait with a 1/4 oz lead jig head. Redfish feed at night during the late spring and early summer months. This is another ideal application for an imitation Shrimp fishing lure. The rivers always offer some great red fishing fishing opportunities. The regulations on redfish fishing are strict so be sure to check the latest fishing regulations before fishing for redfish.  


                    Redfish Legal Size Limits and Restrictions

     Always check for the most current saltwater fish size limits regulations at Fishing Regulations.  No fish outside the slot limit or out of season can be harvested. You can catch redfish in all sizes as long as you release them unharmed. Small redfish under fifteen inches are called "rat" reds, but you will rarely catch a redfish that is not in the legal size slot. Always verify the State Fishing Regulations in place before harvesting redfish. We sponsor and practice "Catch & Release" on redfish.

redfish fishing lures
Live Bait For Redfish
      Fishing for redfish with live baits is almost to easy. Redfish feed on shrimp, pinfish, sardines, chuck baits and a variety of fishing lures. Redfish will hit pinfish out of anger as much as for food. Pinfish can be easily gathered with a cast net or by small hook and line in about three feet of water where there are white/yellow pot holes and drop a small piece of shrimp on a small bluegill golden hook with 6 lb fishing line and a floater up about two feet. You won't have to wait long to start catching small to hand size pinfish if the baitfish is inshore. Most local guides prefer to use the local whitebait or shiners for fishing, but pinfish work well. The whitebait is very difficult to keep alive. You must have a large circular live well with a strong circulation pump to keep whitebait alive. Also once you hook them they won't last long in the water. They will die quickly or get sluggish and not attract a strike. Pinfish on the other hand will live all day in a basic live well or even a bait bucket and will stay alive and active on the hook much longer, and of course they are the natural enemies of the redfish.

            Redfish On Live Baits - Continued

   After you have collected a dozen nice pinfish from 3 to 4 inches long, head for the mangroves to start locating redfish. My standard rigging for redfish includes a 50 lb mono leader (or larger) and 20 lb mono fishing line. The reason for the heavy leader is because you may hook up with a big Snook while red fishing and you won't have a chance of landing the
Snook on smaller test lines. Tie on a torpedo floater about two feet above your hook. The torpedo white floaters with a red band at the top and two swivel connections at the top or bottom of the floater. Tie 20 lb mono line on the top swivel and my 50 lb leader on the bottom swivel. Attach a large durable number 4.0 hook on the end of the 50 lb leader and hook one of the pinfish just in front of the top fin of the pinfish. Make a very light incision with the hook and the fish will last longer. Throw the floater and pinfish as close to or better yet underneath overhanging mangroves along the islands and look out. Pop the floater every few minutes. This is what is great about these white torpedo floaters. They have a concave top that makes a popping sound when you jerk the rod tip quickly. The redfish may go back into the mangrove roots for hundred's of feet in search of food inside the mangrove roots. When they hear the popping noise of your floater they think it's another fish feeding and they come out of the mangroves investigate the noise.  That's when they see your pinfish and strike it. The white floater will simply disappear for sight and you may hear nothing so always keep your eyes on the floater. You will be able to see the floater rushing along the mangroves underwater and that's when you crank up the slack and set the hook. Be sure as mentioned above to lean your rod toward the direction the fish is heading and not against. I like to hit my trolling motor during the initial stages of the fight to get the redfish away from the mangroves as much as possible. If you can get your boat a hundred feet away from the mangroves and into the open water, you will most likely be able to land the redfish. The redfish won't break the water like a Snook or Bass, but it will make several circles around your boat before giving up. Try to wear the fish down some before bringing the fish to the boat, otherwise when it sees the boat it will make a strong surge and possibly break your line.
 This method also works great for Kayak fishing or wade fishing. Many of the inshore islands are within reach of wade fishing from shore. Beware of stepping on sting rays though as this accounts for most of the hospital visits by tourist and fishermen wading the shallow waters of Southwest Florida. It's a good idea to shuffle your feet along the bottom ahead of yourself, this way alerting the sting rays of your approach. This is called the wader's shuffle. Wade fishing is the absolute best way to catch 50 huge redfish in a day. You can have had redfish swimming around by your feet as you fish for them by wade fishing the mangrove islands.
 Redfish Lures    
  There are several artificial baits that will catch Redfish. Redfish Lure lead head jigs with a rubber bait attached work well most of the time. The jigs can be fished in tandem sets and cut them lose and fish they as solo lures with a loop knot. Fishing with Redfish Lures is best with lighter lines. The redfish can become very spooky as fishing tournaments and weekend fishermen speed around the islands in search of redfish schools.
You can see redfish schools in the flats with literally thousand's of fish pushing a wake across the flats. One technique is to drive your boat ahead of the advancing redfish school and wait for them. Start casting your redfish lures to them when they come into casting range. It's best to use a light 1/4 ounce lure so it won't make to much noise when it hits the water. Cast your redfish lures ahead of the redfish school and let the school come to the lure naturally. Once the redfish are within a few feet of the redfish lure twitch it once or twice to make sure they see your lure.  This is a great way to get multiple hook ups simultaneously.
   Another productive artificial lure fishing technique is to use a trolling motor and cast into the mangroves as you slowly move along the outskirts of the islands. Try to make long casts with redfish lures as the redfish may be shy due to boat noise, talking in the boat, etc. When possible make long parallel casts to the shoreline. I like to use a 1/4 ounce jig and let the jig sit on the bottom after the cast. The I twitch it a couple times and let it settle back down to the bottom. This will lure the big redfish out of the mangroves.
You can also use the popping cork technique above and replace the live bait with a small jig. Effective method is to cast back into and underneath the overhanging mangroves with a weedless rubber bait or jig. Let the bait settle down and twitch it and retrieve very slowly, almost dragging the lure on the bottom with an occasional twitch. If you hook up with a redfish this way it will be more difficult to land the fish as it may run through the mangrove roots. The redfish are much easier to land if you hook them outside the mangrove roots instead of inside the roots. If you fishing with live bait you can toss some live bait up into the mangrove roots to lure the fish out and to encourage feeding.
Fishing with topwater or shallow diving plugs can also be very effective for redfish. Fish topwater lures the same as you would fish jigs and jerk baits above. Make as much noise with your topwater lure as possible. Don't retrieve the lure to quickly and pause it occasionally. Vary the retrieve speed until you find the best one for your water conditions. The colors don't appear to make a great difference except to match the water conditions. On quite days with little wind use a smaller topwater lure that blends into the water better. On windy days with water turbulence use larger more colorful lures as the redfish won't be as cautious. Zara Spooks, and similar top water and shallow retrieve lures will catch redfish. The redfish may have a more difficult time getting the hooks on a topwater lure due it it's smaller mouth which is designed to forage the ocean bottom for food, so don't set the hook to quickly.
More Redfish Information
 Redfish are found all along the shores of Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. Some of the biggest redfish are caught on the Eastern Florida shores. Redfish are also caught on the offshore wrecks and reefs at times. A really big redfish is called a bull red and can get up to 60 lbs or bigger. Hook one of these inshore and you will have a real battle on your hands. The bull reds school up together during the summer months and move around the shallow flats by the hundred's. These redfish schools will move from island to island in the pine island sound in search of food and spawning. Many times the bull red schools will remain in the same location until an event occurs such as a severe weather change or several passing boats. Go back to the same location on the same tide for days on end to catch large numbers of reds before they would finally move on to another island. Then you have to go out and search for them again.

   Redfish are an exciting fish species to catch. If you throw a live bait or redfish lure in front of a redfish he will usually take it. Throw a lure and it depends on the weather, how much boat action they have seen and the tide and moon phases. But he will almost always take al live pinfish. During the cold front in the winter in Florida the redfish will move into the canals. You can do some great red fishing with live shrimp in the canals at this time.


          Using A Popping Floater With Lures & Live Baits

       redfish technique

  One of the best methods to consistently catch big redfish is to use a popping floater like above. Attach a 2-3 ft mono leader in 25 - 50 lb class to a torpedo popping cork. Tie a live shrimp or rubber lure and jig head to the leader. Throw the combo as close as you can to the mangroves and let it sit for a couple minutes. Then quickly snap or jerk your rod to produce a popping sound from the popping cork in the water. The louder the better. The first time fishermen see and hear this they are afraid it will scare the fish away from the area, but it's just the opposite. The big reds will hear this as fish feeding on the surface and they will come to the floater to check out the noise. Oftentimes the reds will attach the floater itself.

   This method also works well with a live sardine or pinfish, however the sardines die easily and you will have to keep replacing them. The pinfish are stronger and will last much longer. Also use a BIG pinfish, shrimp or sardine. Using up to a 6 inches long pinfish will help catch the bigger fish. The fish strike is very violent and the line will start screaming as the red runs with the bait.

                              Redfish Strategies

   Redfish bite best during new moon and strong incoming tides. Morning are always best for red fishing, but redfish will anytime of the day during a strong incoming tide. When planning your red fishing trips look up the local tide conditions and plan to be on the water with my lures or live bait just as the out going tide is at it lowest or slack stage. Fish the first couple hours of the incoming tide. During this time the reds will be moving onto the shallow flats moving in and out of the thick grass and into the open pot holes. Fishing these pot holes can be the right ticket for great catches of redfish.

 After the tide floods the mangroves the redfish will move into the mangroves and continue their feeding. Redfish can be caught all along the mangrove islands and up into them. This is when the popping cork method above works best. As the tide changes and starts moving out again the redfish will move out of the mangroves and onto the shallow flats again. You can then catch them on the pot holes again. As the tide continues to go out the redfish will retreat into the underwater creeks and sloughs where deeper water is still available. Redfish can be caught in the underwater passageways during the low tides phases.

   Many local fishermen prefer the low tide for redfish as it moves the redfish into a few select deeper holes. The fish can be packed into these small areas of deeper water waiting for the return of the high tide. You must use stealth to approach redfish in these conditions and the deep holes are usually surrounded by miles of ankle deep water, so you have to have a plan to access them. Once you find the fish though you can have the fishing experiences of your life ad the fish cannot escape these areas.

              How To Catch Redfish


       REDFISH fishing


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