How to Catch Redfish: 6 Redfish Fishing Tips [2022 Update]


Updated on September 20, 2022 by

Redfish or Red Drum are widespread throughout Texas to Florida and with these redfish fishing tips, you will have more success in catching them than ever before. 

Redfish are popular among anglers because they live in many different environments, and you can find them just about anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico.

Redfish was declared a restricted species in 1989 but has made a big comeback. Some states impose strictures on redfish fishing, so you can only take a few sized per day. Make sure you have the proper fishing licenses before going fishing.

After reading this, you will have gained some understanding of the behavior of the fish, their life cycle, and how you can catch them more often.

Redfish Fishing Tips

6 Redfish Fishing Tips

We have put together some of the best redfish fishing tips we have found from experienced anglers, tackle store owners, and online teachers. Hopefully, you will learn something new, enabling you to catch that big bull red drum you have been chasing.

1. Look for Redfish Tails

Keep your eyes open for redfish tailing – this occurs when a redfish is bottom feeding in shallow water, and their tails come out of the water. This is an ideal time to throw a bait or jig in front of them. Sight fishing is an exciting and active type of fishing, because you can target an individual fish rather than waiting for whatever happens to take your bait. There is nothing as exciting as spotting a bull redfish tailing and spending a few minutes throwing a lure in front of it.

You will need to target your lure depending on the depth of the target individual. This is especially important in shallow or weedy areas so you don’t spend all day pulling grass off your hooks.

redfish tailing around grass

2. Fish the Tides

Fish the tides – redfish often travel within their lagoons and follow the tides looking for crabs and baitfish. If any areas cannot be accessed at low tide but are full of potential food, then this is an ideal spot to fish for redfish. They will often travel into these restricted areas at high tide and back to the deeper areas at low tide. You may need to change your location depending on the time of day and the tide.

3. Look for Structure

Redfish love hiding around structures such as oyster bars, shallow grass flats, docks, rocks, piers, and mangrove roots. If you see these, this is a good place to put a bait or lure. You will need to change your tackle if you are fishing around structure. You should pick a line that has good abrasion resistance and is stronger than the fish itself demands. You may also consider using a weedless hook to move through the grass more easily.

4. Find Stingrays

Look out for stingrays – they are bottom feeders like redfish and often target the same bait. If you see a stingray it is likely that redfish are not far away. Stingrays also move into shallow areas at the top of the tide and are sometimes more visible because of their unique movement pattern and can often be seen within a few feet of the bank. To find a stingray, just look for their distinctive shape, which you might mistake for a shadow or rock.

5. Locate Choke-Points

Locate choke points caused by the low tide that the redfish will have to travel through when moving from high tide to low tide water levels.

You will need to change your location depending on the tide. Fish in the shallow areas at high tide. Move to the choke point as the tide starts dropping. Then finally, fish in the deeper areas at low tide. Following this structure allows you to catch redfish regardless of the tide.

6. Try a Kayak

Redfish are popular among kayak fishermen, so this is an opportunity to try out a fishing kayak. Kayaks enable you to access shallow areas that a boat could never access.

Some of their shallow hunting grounds can be too wide to access from the shore. Moving across in a shallow draft kayak can allow you to access the entire target area. Sometimes you will be able to see redfish tailing that is too shallow for a boat and too far away from shore. Using a fishing kayak is the ideal vessel to go target that bull red drum you can see in the distance.

holding a redfish caught in savannah georgia

Best Time to Catch Redfish
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The best time of day for catching redfish changes depending on the water temperature. In summer, the best time to catch redfish is the morning as the fish feed in the shallows before they head deeper as the water heats up. You can also catch redfish in the afternoons as the fish head back into deeper waters around jetties, bridges, and structures.

Best Month to Catch Redfish

The best month of the year to catch redfish is December to January, after numbers have increased during the annual spawning runs. Big bull redfish show up in late summer to early fall.

In summer, redfish head into the shallows to feed early in the day and go deep as the water heats up.

In winter, the fish start the day in deeper water and head into the shallows in the afternoon.

Best Bait to Catch Redfish

The best bait for redfish is fresh mullet. Redfish are bottom feeders, so put the bait onto the bottom without a float. The most popular bait for redfish are mullet, crabs, and shrimps. Plenty of other baits will work, including pilchards, pinfish, grunts, pigfish, ladyfish, and ballyhoo.

Crabs are also popular with anglers, especially blue crab, fiddler crab, or mud crab. 

Redfish are also known to go after live shrimp. They are easy to find in most places and are effective.

Best Lures to Catch Redfish

There are plenty of popular redfish lures such as crankbaits or spoons. Golden spoons are particularly effective. The main consideration for redfish lures is the depth and whether there are any weeds or structure to avoid. You will generally want a bibless lure to control the depth more effectively and keep your hooks out of any obstacles.

Recommended Redfish Fishing Gear

Thankfully redfish don’t need specialist gear. You should be able to catch plenty of fish with a fairly standard spinning or baitcasting rod and reel combo. 

10 Best Redfish Fishing Spots in the United States

Redfish are found throughout the South, from Texas to Florida. The Saltwater Sportsman have put together a great list of the top fishing spots for redfish, including:

  • Venice, Louisiana
  • Hopedale, Louisiana
  • Mosquito Lagoon, Florida
  • Port O’Conner, Texas
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Pine Island Sound, Florida
  • Cocodrie, Louisiana
  • Galveston, Texas
  • Beaufort, North Carolina
  • Port Mansfield, Texas

Courtesy of NOAA, this map shows the most popular habitat for redfish:

redfish habitat map, source: NOAA

Redfish Fishing Video

The video below gives some great tips for how to catch redfish, especially in shallow inshore water.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you have learned a lot about the behavior of red drum and gotten some knowledge from our redfish fishing tips. Redfish are a great fish to target and are found throughout the south. They pack quite a punch for their size but don’t require specialist equipment to catch. They are also pretty predictable in their movements and feeding patterns, so you should be able to put your crankbait or spinner in front of a hungry mouth.

If you have any information from your experience that you would like to share about the best way to catch redfish, please leave a comment below. This allows all of our readers to gain from your wisdom.

We have also put together a guide for American fish species for anglers that you might find useful.

Happy fishing!


Photo of author

Captain Russ Egan

Captain Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.