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How to Catch a Redfish

How to Catch a Redfish

This article is a guide to how to catch a Redfish for beginners.  The redfish, red, channel bass, spot tail, red drum, pumpkin, bull red, or Sciaenops Ocellatus is one of the most highly sought after and protected inshore fish in America.  Decent table fare and the explosive runs are what keep anglers coming back to the flats and rivers from Texas to Massachusetts.  In this write up, I will try to teach how to focus tactics to target redfish and hopefully help beginners put some slot reds in the boat.

Pumpkin Redfish

Beautiful redfish caught by @captainshafter

There are a few things to know when starting out.  1. Redfish have a great sense of smell and will track in on scents, live bait, or dead bait with their noses. 2. Redfish key around structure; rocks, concrete, oyster beds, and channel drop offs.  Redfish generally do not travel alone.  They tend to stay in larger schools in the winter cold months and small schools during the summer.  

Redfish can be found from the inshore tidal creeks to up to 40 miles offshore and everything in between.  There are several different ways to target redfish and they all will be discussed below.  The most popular way to fish for redfish is the anchor and wait method.  It is by far the most successful way to catch these bottom feeders.  Redfish are constantly on the move from the low tide holes and oyster beds to following the bait up onto the flats.  Pay attention to the way the bait moves on and off the flats and in and out of the creeks.  Anchor the boat above a nice creek mouth with structure.  Fish with a fish finder rig with live finger mullet, shrimp, or cut blue crab on the bottom.  If redfish are in the area you should hear them slurping up in the grass and on the flats.  As the tide falls, the reds will feed at certain points as they move off the flat and out of the grass and up the smaller creeks.  Get set up in these ambush points and if the fish are in the area you will catch them. These areas are best in the late summer, fall, and early winter time.

Redfish on oystershells

Redfish swimming on oyster shoal (Photo Credit: Jay Fleming)

In hotter months you can find redfish in deeper water, the channels where there are docks, pilings, large oyster bars, jetties, concrete boulders, or inshore reefs.  You can anchor up on these spots and Carolina rig shrimp, sea mullet, or blue crab anywhere from 5-30 feet.  The redfish have a good sense of smell and will allow them to find the live or dead bait.  Fish these main channel areas during the tide switch and lunar feed times.  

Poling for redfish in the grass is a true challenge. Many people like to spot stalk these fish.  The redfish feeds with his tail out of the water eating snails, crabs, shrimp, and mullet in the grass.  You can throw any of these imitation soft plastics or use live bait.  One of the most challenging ways to catch them is using a fly rod. Catching redfish by fly-fishing is very popular during the flood tides in the summer and fall.  Use a black and purple crab fly in low light and brighter colors when the sun is out.  You have to be very quiet because Redfish spook easily when feeding during the flood tides.

Beating banks by throwing any artificials, jig heads with live bait/plastics, and live bait on a popping cork is my favorite way to fish them.  Working areas around bait and structure casting at any disturbance you see in the water.  Some of my favorite lures are suspending stick baits, soft plastics, topwater walking baits, and live mullet on a live bait jig head. This can be done year round in different areas of your fishery. You will catch other species of fish and cover ground.  You will be surprised what structure and new fishing areas you will find.  Do not be afraid to stop and throw the anchor when you find a good spot.  Fish creek mouths, oyster bars, mud flats, drop offs, and concrete structure or boat docks.  

redfish tailing how to catch redfish

Redfish school with tailing reds (Photo

The hardest part about catching redfish is taking the time to find them.  Some areas hold fish year round and some are seasonal.  If you put in the time and work to find these hard fighting good eating fish, you will be successful.  

Do not hesitate to contact us at with any questions may have. Send us your best redfish fishing pictures to be featured on our social media and website. Please leave comments below and we hope you enjoyed How to Catch a Redfish!

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