Redfish, known in some parts as red drum, channel bass, or red bass, are relatively easy to catch once they have been located. So, the first part of our discussion needs to center around how to find them! Where do we look?
Redfish are generally a shallow water fish. They live in and around the estuaries along the eastern seaboard and gulf coast of the Untied States. They can be found in the salt marsh creeks and rivers, oyster bars, open sounds, and backwater flats. Smaller fish tend to school more than the larger fish, and once you catch one, you are almost sure to catch more.
They migrate offshore each winter to deeper water and hold on natural and artificial reefs. In the warmer months, they can be found inshore where the bait is plentiful. During their fall migration, they can be found in the deep channels leading out to the ocean – hence channel bass. These may be the biggest reds you will find, and they may be the easiest to catch as well.
Redfish can be caught on a variety of natural bait. Live bait such as live shrimp, mud minnows, or small baitfish like mullet or menhaden shad are all used to catch redfish.
Live shrimp are fished under a float or on a jig head. Free-lining live shrimp is another technique that works in shallow water under certain circumstances. Mud minnows can be fished the same way. Other live bait, such as live finger mullet of menhaden are generally fishing on the bottom on a standard bottom fishing rig.
Sometimes cut bait, such as the side of a mullet, works well on the bottom. Whole or half crabs fished on the bottom also work well.
Artificial bait – lures and plugs – are very effective baits for redfish. These baits range from topwater to deep diving baits, from plugs to jigs. Lots of redfish lures resemble freshwater black bass lures. It stands to reason – all the lures are meant to mimic baitfish.
Plastic swim tails or grubs on jig heads are extremely popular baits. My personal favorite is a Bass Assassin Electric Chicken color swim tail on a 3/8 ounce jig head. Heavier current will have me using a ½ ounce jig – lighter current will allow me to go down to a ¼ ounce jig. I fish with the lightest weight I can that will still give me the action I want.
We try to fish the tide that best suites the situation. We fish an outgoing tide to find feeding fish coming off a marsh flat and dropping back into the creek or river. Live and artificial baits are presented in those areas and worked slowly. Generally, when you find one fish, you will find a school. If you fish for 15 minutes on one structure and get no bites – move.