Redfish are one of our most proficient and numerous targets, sometimes numbering up to a couple thousand fish or more per school. Redfish often resemble the feeding personalities of bonefish. And, as in bonefishing, most of the time redfish will cooperate if there is not too much fishing pressure. Whether fished on sandy bottom, grass flats, deep water channels or gulf beaches, I have distinguished at least six different moods of the redfish. They are :
1 - Wildly crashing the surface and feeding like piranhas or bluefish on steroids. Eating anything and everything that's thrown their way. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen very often. When it does, it is spectacular making angling easier but short-lived.
2 - Swimming just under the surface with their unmistakable "redfish wake" and eating flies, plugs, spoons or bait if carefully presented on the cast. If not chased these fish will usually allow quite a few to be caught before moving on.
3 - One of my favorite's! The redfish are a foot or so apart in a pack formation and slowly cruising along the bottom. This is a great situation and one that's perfect for a small crab or shrimp fly as almost anything else is too big and will spook the fish. This is a shallow, clear water scenario, so usually if one spooks, they all do! Very small and few strips are needed, just as in bonefishing. You get the fishes attention, then watch, wait and feel for the pick up! Just like feeding candy and teasing!
4 - Singles traveling! If they're moving fast it's worth a "hail mary" but it's probably not going to happen. If it's a happy fish and moving slow then this is a great target fish! Now it's up to you to lead appropriately and not splash down the fly too hard.
5 - Tailing redfish! Yeah, probably my favorite. This is as good as it gets for the hunter turned fisherman or visa versa. Cool air, shallow and clear water and tailing redfish should mean to you that they're feeding....usually with a direction in mind which generally makes for an easier approach. Many times there are fish tails everywhere and they're staying put and happy about it! Food that is! This is typical of our winter redfishing. It's great to wade using flats booties or the like, and sneaking up on your quarry one on one, often without the boat.
6 - That time of the month! Not interested! Nothing! Nada! Forget about it! Go trout fishing or something but leave me alone! These fish won't let you get close enough to cast to, chum to, throw rocks at, let alone catch! Maybe next tide? Yeah, right.
Dan Hansen with one of his oversized redfish caught sight-casting on the flats of Tampa Bay. A custom, hand-tied crab fly, created by Capt. Russ was used to produce this redfish. It was caught bonefish-style over a sandy spot in gin clear waters of Tampa Bay.
Redfish have a large elongated body with a fairly straight profile. Their small horizontal mouth has bands of teeth which are larger in the front of the upper jaw. Redfish are silver-gray in color with touches of red towards their back and black eye spots located between the end of the dorsal fin and the tail.
32-40", max. 60"
Throughout entire Gulf Coast.
Coastal waters and estuaries around reefs, sand and mud bottoms.
Tends to gather in schools. Adult, mature fish migrate to open waters during winter months. Found throughout bays in summer months.
Crustaceans, mollusks and small fish.
Flyfishing, surf casting, bottom fishing and slow trolling. Use crabs, shrimp or squid for natural baits and flies, jigs, plugs or spoons for artificials. If you really want to hit some redfish, just call Capt. Russ.