Redfish, also known as Red Drum, is the most popular saltwater fish in Florida that can be caught all year round. Albeit being everywhere, redfish do not care too much about the water, underwater structure, what they feed on, or anything else. Since they thrive in several areas and eat anything that comes under their nose in any part of the water column, you can enjoy catching redfish anywhere in Florida and just about anyhow.

How do you catch redfish in Southwest Florida?

Travel time is never an issue when targeting redfish Southwest Florida – they are basically in your backyard. Also, learning how to catch redfish is not all that difficult once you know the basics. Some of the techniques you can use to catch redfish include:

·      Knowing how to assess the area for feeding redfish

To feed redfish, look for spots that encompass suitable structures like shallow flats, jetties, oyster bars, and a healthy supply of bait. Redfish often hold in these types of areas year-round because they address their two primary concerns – getting food and protection from bigger predators.

·        Utilizing proper equipment

Most redfish anglers mistakenly use equipment that is not adequately suited to their objective. Fishing lines, spinning rods, and reels can be used to catch redfish. However, you need to know the tidal flow or if you will be using live bait or artificial lures. Some fishermen believe the size and presentation of redfish lures are more important than lure color (green, yellow, white, or chartreuse tail). Fish-shaped plugs, gold spoons, jig heads, and shrimplike plastic worms are effective baits and lures. Expect explosive strikes on lures like poppers when redfish get to the surface.

For maximum red drum catching, surf fishing is the best option. Nonetheless, you need to ensure you match your equipment to the type of fishing you will be doing. Also, consider the type of water (deep or shallow waters) you will be fishing.

·        Live bait is ideal but not necessary

Live or cut bait is ideal for fishing redfish. However, it is certainly not necessary. Of all the coastal fish species, bull redfish are one of the easiest to fool with lures. Redfish are an eccentric game fish to target with artificial bait because they will gladly eat a vast array of lures – weedless spoons and topwater plugs for shallow water and swimbaits or bucktail jigs for deeper water. A popping cork is also ideal in fishing for redfish and speckled trout.

Moreover, redfish do not care much about water depth or clarity, as long as there is profuse food. This does not imply that bull redfish do not adjust to environmental factors; it is just that they thrive in different conditions.

Fish for redfish by using live shrimp or crab as bait

Given their adaptable nature, the redfish diet is not primarily focused on one or two meals. Habitually, they will eat whatever is in their area at that particular moment. Live crabs or shrimp can be used as artificial baits in redfish fishing.

Similar to squids, live shrimp is a vastly available bait option. More fundamentally, redfish never ignore them. Keeping the shrimp alive and healthy as long as possible can help keep them moving in water, making it easy for the fish to spot them.

Besides mud minnows, pinfish, croakers, marine worms, and mullet, live crabs are some of the best live baits for catching Bull Reds. Big redfish love eating crabs and since they have decently largemouths, they can gobble a whole crab with no issues. To ideally rig your live crab, take the legs off and place the hook through one of the leg holes. Guide the hook through the crab shell to make it nice and firm.

Find the best fishing spots in Fort Myers

There are many prime redfish places in Fort Myers’ coastlines and marinas that you can pick from. These include;

  •       Inshore

Typically, inshore fishing is what people think of when redfish fishing in Fort Myers, Florida. Visualize big flats with some potholes and grasses on the bottom where the redfish hang out, marshy areas where they may relax around marsh openings to catch a snack on the way in or out, or large mangrove islands where they may catch the suitable current to hang out on one end of the island and wait for food. Knowing the flood tide is vital to flats fishing, and ensuring you have a boat with a strong trolling motor is necessary.

  •       The beach

Redfish beach-fishing can be fantastic as they often hang out in the surf. However, relying on sight can be challenging as several other things may lurk in the same area, making it difficult to predict what may end up hooked to the other end of your line. Most beach-fishing individuals use a casting net to catch bait in the surf and then use it for fishing.

  •       Jetty fishing

Jetty-fishing can be an ideal means for fishing redfish, whether using a boat or just walking out. Presuming the weather is good, feel free to walk down the jetty and cast it off. However, there are various situations whereby we recommend a boat for easy accessibility. Our experts advise you to stick close to the rocks as this is where most fish are – the structure congregates the fish, and this is where you will catch the upper slot and beyond redfish.

  •       Offshore structures

If you are looking for a fun light-tackle day at the rig or when snapper limits get in your way, change your strategies and start casting redfish lures towards the rig (top-middle of the water column). Like jetty-fishing, you will be hooked up to some real big redfish attracted to the structure. Redfish only depart from the coast after reaching maturity (at 3years), and by this time, they are already nearing ten pounds.

Nonetheless, you need to find a good vantage point to spot the fish or try your luck by blind casting for it.

Ways to catch redfish

Hook and line are the most common means of catching redfish. Line strength varies depending on the type of habitat being fished. Heavier lines (17-25 pounds) are necessary when fishing around pilings, oyster beds, or rocks. Lighter lines (8-15 pounds) are favored when fishing grass flats.

Even so, some people use nets. While on the beach, as aforementioned, you can use a casting net to catch bait in the surf and then use the same bait for fishing. Redfish are glad to eat whatever gets caught, just like other fish.

Keep pressure on the rod

When using reels for redfish fishing, apply pressure on the rod tip so that they do not get away. Large reels can handle many hundred yards of 25-40 pound test line, and they should have a sound drag system. Smaller fish reels can hold at least 100 yards of line. Bait-casting or spinning reels are always an ideal option for catching reds. Do not use the tail fin as it can easily tangle your line

What is the best time of day to catch redfish?

Redfish start showing recurrently late summer into early fall around jetties. They increase in number through fall and early winter during annual spawning runs. This is the best period to catch redfish. The sun typically warms the shallows as the day progresses, making fish hide. Therefore the best time to catch redfish is early morning when in the shallows and in deeper waters like wrecks, jetties, and bridges, the best time is in the afternoon.

Fortunately, this fish is available all year long on the Florida coasts. They can be found along the upper half of the East Coast and everywhere on the Gulf Coast. The Indian River Lagoon system, which incorporates the Mosquito Lagoon, is the only place where redfish live their entire lives inshore. Another freshwater spot recommendation for fishing for redfish is Banana River. Most big fish in Central Florida are caught while fishing for redfish in shallow water.

Conversely, regarding the Florida regulations for fishing for redfish, the slot limit is between 18 and 27 total lengths, and the daily bag limit is one fish per individual per day. Some illegal gear like spearfishing or gigging and using several hooks together with live or dead natural bait is banned.

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