The red drum or redfish are among the most-loved gamefish on the east coast and in the south. They are a most adaptable fish and can be found inshore in waters from Massachusetts to Texas. Fishing for them is accessible even to shore-based anglers. You can sight-fish them, then watch them attack your offering in the skinniest of water.
Because they are such a wide-ranging fish, the best ways to target them vary by area. This article from Sport Fishing magazine offers insights from some of the top anglers and guides, offering their tips on targeting this exciting fish in their unique local waters.
Travel time’s not an issue when targeting the most popular coastal game fish in the Southeast — they’re always in your backyard. The red drum, widespread in its range, doesn’t care about structure, water depth or clarity, as long as there’s plenty of food available. That’s not to say reds don’t adjust to environmental factors, just that they thrive in so many conditions.
I learned just how adaptable redfish are when I hiked a trail along Florida’s Indian River Lagoon. Scouting among the overgrown mangroves, I spotted redfish tailing in a mosquito ditch not more than 5 feet wide. The drum favored the mud-bottom canal instead of lush grass flats refreshed regularly with tidal movements on the other side of the berm. Still, these redfish — the biggest in the area — chose a 1- to 2-foot-deep trough, even with access to the lagoon via drainage culverts at high tide. I had to cast to them, among the spider webs and branches, even if I didn’t understand what they were doing there. When I convinced a big red to bite, the maze of mangroves I crisscrossed to land and leader the fish was ridiculous, but it was completely worth it.
From the Chesapeake Bay to Texas, anglers have abundant opportunities to catch red drum, Sciaenops ocellatus, commonly called redfish, bull red, puppy drum or spot-tail bass. Redfish of all sizes inhabit brackish creeks, marshes, grass flats, mangroves, oyster beds, bridges, passes and beaches of the Southeastern states. Pick the structure that fits your favorite style of fishing. Or target new waters that have gone unexplored.
Photos: Sport Fishing