Best Redfish Fishing Tackle and Lures

Best Redfish Fishing Tackle and Lures

This article will feature the best redfish fishing tackle and lures. The proper name is “red drum, but they are known as redfish, reds, puppy drum, and channel bass. Redfish are an extremely popular inshore saltwater species. They are found all along the Gulf Coast up to the mid Atlantic states. Redfish average 5 pounds but grow close to 10 pounds!

best redfish fishing tackle

This article will feature the best redfish fishing tackle and lures. The proper name is “red drum, but they are known as redfish, reds, puppy drum, and channel bass. Redfish are an extremely popular inshore saltwater species. They are found all along the Gulf Coast up to the mid Atlantic states. Redfish average 5 pounds but grow close to 10 pounds!

Redfish have an “inferior” mouth. That means that the nose extends out over the mouth. This gives anglers an insight into the manner in which they feed. Reds mostly use their hard nose to root around in the bottom. However, they are not scavengers, though they are opportunistic. Crabs, shrimp, and other crustaceans are their primary forage.

Sarasota fishing calendar

Redfish do most certainly feed on live bait fish as well! Depending on the location, these include mullet, pinfish, grunts, sardines, herring, mud minnows, pogies, and any juvenile game fish. Fresh fish are used effectively as cut bait in many instances, especially for anglers surf fishing.

Best redfish rods and reels

The vast majority of anglers that fish for redfish are targeting fish in the 3 to 10 pound range. Therefore, medium spinning and light conventional outfits work best. However, those fishing for large reds in inlets and around bridges will require stout conventional gear. Surf anglers use the same outfits that do well for larger bluefish and striped bass.

best redfish lures

Spinning rods and reels for redfish

Medium spinning rods with a fast action and a 3000 or 4000 series reel work very well for anglers fishing for redfish. “Fast action” means that the rod is stout at the butt and middle section, but tapers to a limber tip. This allows for casting of light lures and baits, but enough muscle to handle a decent fish.

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon”

Spinning rods are used a lot by anglers who fish with lighter lures and live baits. This rig works great for those casting ¼ ounce jigs and spoons as well as free lining live shrimp and bait fish. Also, many areas have reds that are mostly 30” and under. These outfits are fine for those fish, especially in open water.

Light conventional rods and reels for redfish

redfish fishing tackle

Light conventional, or bait casting, outfits are well suited to anglers chasing redfish as well. They are especially popular in the Gulf Coast states where larger fish are more often caught. Also, these rigs work well for anglers casting larger lures and live baits. These conventional outfits are also great as casting heavier popping cork rigs, which are extremely popular in that region.

Heavy conventional redfish tackle

best redfish tackle

Heavy conventional outfits are used by anglers chasing the largest redfish. This often occurs in inlets and passes whee strong current is an additional factor. The same applies to fishing near bridges and docks, stout tackle is required to land a big, strong fish in these conditions. Heavy conventional gear is best for this application.

Surf fishing tackle for reds

Anglers catch redfish in the surf as well. This is particularly true in the Atlantic from Georgia to Maryland. The Outer Banks is a famous surf fishing destination. Reds vary greatly in size, from 18” puppy drum to 50 pound monsters. Anglers need to match the surf fishing tackle to the size of the fish being pursued.

Fishing line options for redfish anglers

fishing for reedfish and speckled trout

Anglers fishing for redfish have two basic choices when it comes to fishing line, braided line and monofilament line. Most anglers now use braided line. It costs more, but lasts longer, have zero stretch, great sensitivity, and is thinner in diameter so it casts further. Knots are a bit trickier. Some anglers still prefer the stretch and feel of monofilament. There is not a wrong choice, it is just a matter of individual preference.


Leaders

fishing in Carolina

Anglers will need leader material as well when fishing for redfish. Flourocarbon leader is the best choice in most applications. 30 lb leader is good for inshore fishing. Anglers can bump up the strength as the fish get larger or the water gets less clear.

Best artificial lures for redfish

plug fishing Sarasota

Anglers fish for redfish with both live bait and artificial lures. The main advantage with lures is the ability to cover water in search of fish. This is especially true when they are scattered out on large, expansive flats. Here is a selection of proven artificial lures for reds.

Gold Johnson Silver Minnow

It would be hard to argue that the gold Johnson Silver minnow spoon is not the top redfish artificial lure of all time. To this day, gold weedless spoons produce many redfish. They are terrific search baits. Spoons can be cast a long distance. This allows anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish.

Florida fishing tips

The Johnson Silver minnow spoon started out as a largemouth bass lure, as did many saltwater baits. While it does come in silver and other finishes, gold is the more productive color for redfish. The Silver Minnow is relatively weedless as it rides hook up and also has a weed guard. Spoons have an enticing wiggle and put out a lot a flash and vibration. They can be fished in water as shallow as a foot deep effectively.

The technique when fishing with weedless spoons is fairly simple. Anglers make a long cast and reel the spoon back in using a slow, steady retrieve. It is extremely effective when used overlarge expansive shallow grass flats. The Johnson Silver Minnow can also be used along oyster bars and shorelines. The 1/2 ounce size is most popular.

Bass Assassin Sea Shad

Second on the list of Capt. Jim’s best seven fishing lures for redfish is the 4 inch Bass Assassin Sea Shad soft plastic swim bait. These types of lures have been around for a long time. They are still very effective for catching a wide variety of fish species, and redfish are no exception.

redfish lures

These soft plastic swim baits are simple, economical, and very effective. The bait is 4 inches long and has a shad style tail which produces a lot a vibration and a natural swimming action. Bass Assassin offers a myriad of color options for anglers to choose from. Lighter colors work well in clear water while darker colors perform best in stained water. Hot pink and chartreuse work best when the water is muddy.

Anglers have several choices when it comes to reading these baits. Most often, a jig head is used. The jig head provides both weight and hook. The lure rides with the hookup, making it relatively weedless. However, the jig had will pick up grass. Special shallow water jig heads have a tapered head which helps reduce this. Anglers can also rig this bait on a weighted swim bait hook.

One of the keys to this baits effectiveness is its versatility. The bait can be rigged on a very light jig head and fish and extremely shallow water. Anglers will swim it over the grass than allow it to sink down into potholes. It can also be bounced down the edges of oyster bars. When used with a heavier jig head, this lore can be used when redfish are found in deeper water such as and inlets and passes.

Rapala X-Rap

Number three on the list of best redfish lures that Capt. Jim likes is the Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait. This is a shallow diving jerk bait that is very effective on redfish as well as other species. The bait floats at rest that dives down several feet upon retrieve. The best retrieve is usually an erratic one with a pause in between. The bait has a lot of flash and vibration.

redfish fishing lures

X-Raps are available in several sizes and multiple colors. In the waters of Sarasota were Capt. Jim fishes, the 08 X-Rap is often the best choice. It realistically mimics the smaller forage such as finger mullet, glass minnows, and sardines that are available. Olive is a great all round color with white being his second choice. Gold works great in rivers and tannin stained waters.

As in all fishing applications, anglers should match the size and color of the bait to the locally available forage. If redfish are feeding on larger pogies, pin fish, mullet, and grunts, stepping up to the #10 X-Rap is probably a good decision. Again, lighter colors in clear water and darker colors in dark water is a good rule of thumb.

Redfish Magic Spinnerbait

The strike King Redfish Magic spinnerbait is number four on Capt. Jim’s list of the best seven fishing lures for redfish. Once again, this is basically a converted largemouth bass fishing lure. Spinner baits are really a combination of two very effective baits; a jig and a spinner. The lure has a wire frame with a jig and grub combination at the bottom and a flashing spinner blade at the top.

fishing for edfish and speckled trout

Like the spoon, this is an excellent search bait that allows anglers to cover a lot of water. The best approach is usually to cast it out, allow it to sink a second or two, then reel it back in using a slow, steady retrieve. This bait puts out a ton of vibration and is an excellent choice when the water is murky. It is also an excellent lure for novice anglers to use as it has a lot of built in action.

This bait really shines in conditions of limited visibility regarding water clarity. The Redfish Magic spinner bait puts out a lot a vibration and flash. This will help fish locate the bait when visibility is poor. The swim bait tail can be easily replaced when anglers want to make a change in color. Gold is the preferred blade finish.

Gulp! Baits


The Gulp! line of baits made by Berkeley work extremely well for anglers fishing for redfish. Soft plastic baits have been scented for many years. However, these are a whole step above that. The lure is actually manufactured from scented material. On days when the bite is tough, this added advantage of the scent can make a huge difference.

The two Gulp! baits that Capt. Jim likes to use are the 3 inch Gulp! Shrimp in the 5 inch Gulp! Jerk Shad. Both will fool redfish as well as just about every other saltwater species. The Gulp! Shrimp works best on a jig head and water depth from 2 feet and deeper. The jig had is matched to the depth and current. White with a chartreuse tail and new penny are his favorite colors.

The Gulp! 5 inch Jerk Shad is a tremendous bait in shallow water. It can be rigged with a very light jig head. However, it really shines when rigged up weedless on a light swim bait hook. These are specially designed hooks that have a weight near the bend of the hook. This allows for the lure to be presented and a horizontal manner. This rig can be worked through the shallowest of grass effectively without hanging up.

Rapala Skitter walk

The Rapala Skitterwalk is six on Capt. Jim’s list of the best seven fishing lures for redfish. Redfish have an inferior mouth. This means that the nose of the fish protrudes forward with the mouth being behind and underneath. However this does not prohibit redfish from taking a top water plug!

Since redfish are often times found in very shallow water, top water baits are often a logical choice to use. These baits will ride over top of submerge grass and not get hung up. They will also call fish up to the surface. The Skitterwalk is a “walk the dog bait”. This means that it does not have a lot of built in action, the angler must provide.

The lure is cast out and allowed to set motionless for several moments. With the rod tip held low near the surface of the water, the bait is retrieved back in while the rod tip is twitched. When the proper rhythm is found, the lure will dance seductively from left to right on the surface. It is important to wait until the weight of the fishes fell before setting the hook. Otherwise, most fish will be missed and the plug will come flying back to the boat.

D.O.A. Deadly Combo

Last, but certainly not least, on the list of top redfish lures is the DOA deadly combo. This is really a system that consists of a noisy cork, a short leader, and then and artificial shrimp. This is a very productive bait, particularly in stained or muddy water. It is also a great choice for novice anglers as it is fairly easy to use.

The idea of the bait is fairly simple. The noisy float is twitched sharply, causing it to pop and rattle. This simulates feeding fish. This will attract game fish in the area to the sound of the cork. Once there, they will see the shrimp dangling underneath and devour it. It really does work quite well! It really is just and artificial lore version of the venerable popping cork and live shrimp combination, which has been catching fish for many decades.

This is a great lure choice for children. The more they jerk and clack and make noise, often times the better it works. The bite is also visual as when a fish takes the court just disappears. For these reasons, this makes the DOA deadly combo a good lower for both kids and novice anglers. It will catch plenty of speckled trout as well.

In conclusion, this article on the best 7 fishing lures for redfish will help simplify the lures and techniques for catching reds! 

 

 

Best 7 Fishing Lures for Redfish

Best 7 Fishing Lures for Redfish

In this article, Capt Jim shares his Best 7 fishing lures for redfish. Redfish, or red drum, are a very popular inshore game fish from Texas to the mid Atlantic. There are many different redfish fishing lures on the market. Shopping for them can be intimidating. However, there are really only a handful of baits that anglers will need in their tackle boxes to catch redfish.

Best 6 fishing lures for redfish

The best 7 redfish lures are: gold Johnson spoon, Bass Assassin Sea Shad, Rapala X-Rap, Redfish Magic spinnerbait, Gulp baits, Rapala Skitterwalk, and the DOA Deadly Combo. These seven artificial lures will catch redfish in any fishing situation.

Best fishing tackle for redfish

Most anglers opt for spinning tackle when casting artificial lures for redfish. Spinning tackle is versatile, affordable, and effective. Lighter lures are much easier to cast with spinning tackle as well. The same inshore saltwater tackle that is used for speckled trout and other species will be fine for redfish, too. A 7 foot medium action rod matched with a 3000 series real and spooled up with 10 to 15 pound monofilament line or 20 pound braided line is a great all round combo.

fishing for redfish

However, conventional casting tackle certainly has its place when fishing for redfish as well. This is particularly true in the upper Gulf Coast where the largest redfish in the country are caught. These bull reds will put even stout conventional tackle to the test. Also, in most instances, anglers are casting fairly heavy lures in search of these larger fish. A medium action conventional outfit spooled up with 20 pound line works very well.

Most saltwater anglers already own a suitable rod and reel combination. However, for those that don’t, the links below will allow anglers to shop. Capt. Jim likes the Conflict spinning combination in the Lew’s conventional outfit.

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon”

Redfish habitat and lure selection

Redfish are often found in a wide variety of habitats. Many anglers picture fishing for them in very shallow water. This type of fishing in skinny water is both challenging and rewarding. Redfish are also found under docks and around structure. Inlets and passes will also hold redfish at certain times of the year. Reds can even be found schooling in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean.

fishing for bull redfish

Many of the redfish lures are tailored to catch them in shallow water. They are designed with a single hook that rides up, reducing snags. Other lures, particularly jigs, will fool redfish in deeper water. It is important when choosing a lure to pick one that suits the water in which anglers will be pursuing redfish. Depth, cover, structure, and current are just a few of the factors that will affect lure choice.

1) Gold Johnson Silver Minnow

It would be hard to argue against the venerable gold Johnson Silver minnow spoon as the top redfish artificial lure of all time. To this day, gold weedless spoons produce many redfish. They are terrific search baits. Spoons can be cast a long distance. This allows anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish.

redfish lures

Like many productive saltwater fishing lures, the Johnson Silver minnow spoon started out as a largemouth bass lure. While it does come in silver and other finishes, gold is the more productive color for redfish. The spoon is relatively weedless as it rides hook up and also has a weed guard. Spoons have an enticing wiggle and put out a lot a flash and vibration. They can be fished in water as shallow as a foot deep effectively.

The technique when fishing with weedless spoons is fairly simple. Anglers make a long cast and reel the spoon back in using a slow, steady retrieve. It is extremely effective when used overlarge expansive shallow grass flats. The Johnson Silver Minnow can also be used along oyster bars and shorelines. The 1/2 ounce size is most popular.

2) Bass Assassin Sea Shad

Second on the list of Capt. Jim’s best seven fishing lures for redfish is the 4 inch Bass Assassin Sea Shad soft plastic swim bait. These types of lures have been around for a long time. They are still very effective for catching a wide variety of fish species, and redfish are no exception.

redfish lures

These soft plastic swim baits are simple, economical, and very effective. The bait is 4 inches long and has a shad style tail which produces a lot a vibration and a natural swimming action. Bass Assassin offers a myriad of color options for anglers to choose from. Lighter colors work well in clear water while darker colors perform best in stained water. Hot pink and chartreuse work best when the water is muddy.

Anglers have several choices when it comes to reading these baits. Most often, a jig head is used. The jig head provides both weight and hook. The lure rides with the hookup, making it relatively weedless. However, the jig had will pick up grass. Special shallow water jig heads have a tapered head which helps reduce this. Anglers can also rig this bait on a weighted swim bait hook.

fishing for edfish and speckled trout

One of the keys to this baits effectiveness is its versatility. The bait can be rigged on a very light jig head and fish and extremely shallow water. Anglers will swim it over the grass than allow it to sink down into potholes. It can also be bounced down the edges of oyster bars. When used with a heavier jig head, this lore can be used when redfish are found in deeper water such as and inlets and passes.

3) Rapala X-Rap

Number three on the list of best redfish lures that Capt. Jim likes is the Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait. This is a shallow diving jerk bait that is very effective on redfish as well as other species. The bait floats at rest that dives down several feet upon retrieve. The best retrieve is usually an erratic one with a pause in between. The bait has a lot of flash and vibration.

redfish fishing lures

X-Raps are available in several sizes and multiple colors. In the waters of Sarasota were Capt. Jim fishes, the #* X-Rap is often the best choice. It realistically mimics the smaller forage such as finger mullet, glass minnows, and sardines that are available. Olive is a great all round color with white being his second choice. Gold works great in rivers and tannin stained waters.

As in all fishing applications, anglers should match the size and color of the bait to the locally available forage. If redfish are feeding on larger pogies, pin fish, mullet, and grunts, stepping up to the #10 X-Rap is probably a good decision. Again, lighter colors in clear water and darker colors in dark water is a good rule of thumb.

best fishing lures for redfish

4) Redfish Magic Spinnerbait

The strike King Redfish Magic spinner bait is number four on Capt. Jim’s list of the best seven fishing lures for redfish. Once again, this is basically a converted largemouth bass fishing lure. Spinner baits are really a combination of two very effective baits; a jig and a spinner. The lure has a wire frame with a jig and grub combination at the bottom and a flashing spinner blade at the top.

beginners kayak fishing

Like the spoon, this is an excellent search bait that allows anglers to cover a lot of water. The best approach is usually to cast it out, allow it to sink a second or two, then reel it back in using a slow, steady retrieve. This bait puts out a ton of vibration and is an excellent choice when the water is murky. It is also an excellent lure for novice anglers to use as it has a lot of built in action.

This bait really shines in conditions of limited visibility regarding water clarity. The Redfish Magic spinner bait puts out a lot a vibration and flash. This will help fish locate the bait when visibility is poor. The swim bait tail can be easily replaced when anglers want to make a change in color. Gold is the preferred blade finish.

5) Gulp! Baits


The Gulp! line of baits made by Berkeley work extremely well for anglers fishing for redfish. Soft plastic baits have been scented for many years. However, these are a whole step above that. The lure is actually manufactured from scented material. On days when the bite is tough, this added advantage of the scent can make a huge difference.

Texas redfish

The two Gulp! baits that Capt. Jim likes to use are the 3 inch Gulp! Shrimp in the 5 inch Gulp! Jerk Shad. Both will fool redfish as well as just about every other saltwater species. The Gulp! Shrimp works best on a jig head and water depth from 2 feet and deeper. The jig had is matched to the depth and current. White with a chartreuse tail and new penny are his favorite colors.

The Gulp! 5 inch Jerk Shad is a tremendous bait in shallow water. It can be rigged with a very light jig head. However, it really shines when rigged up weedless on a light swim bait hook. These are specially designed hooks that have a weight near the bend of the hook. This allows for the lure to be presented and a horizontal manner. This rig can be worked through the shallowest of grass effectively without hanging up.

6) Rapala Skitter walk

The Rapala Skitterwalk is six on Capt. Jim’s list of the best seven fishing lures for redfish. Redfish have an inferior mouth. This means that the nose of the fish protrudes forward with the mouth being behind and underneath. However this does not prohibit redfish from taking a top water plug!

fishing with lures for redfish

Since redfish are often times found in very shallow water, top water baits are often a logical choice to use. These baits will ride over top of submerge grass and not get hung up. They will also call fish up to the surface. The Skitterwalk is a “walk the dog bait”. This means that it does not have a lot of built in action, the angler must provide.

The lure is cast out and allowed to set motionless for several moments. With the rod tip held low near the surface of the water, the bait is retrieved back in while the rod tip is twitched. When the proper rhythm is found, the lure will dance seductively from left to right on the surface. It is important to wait until the weight of the fishes fell before setting the hook. Otherwise, most fish will be missed and the plug will come flying back to the boat.

7) D.O.A. Deadly Combo

Last, but certainly not least, on the list of top redfish lures is the DOA deadly combo. This is really a system that consists of a noisy cork, a short leader, and then and artificial shrimp. This is a very productive bait, particularly in stained or muddy water. It is also a great choice for novice anglers as it is fairly easy to use.

best redfish lures

The idea of the bait is fairly simple. The noisy float is twitched sharply, causing it to pop and rattle. This simulates feeding fish. This will attract game fish in the area to the sound of the cork. Once there, they will see the shrimp dangling underneath and devour it. It really does work quite well! It really is just and artificial lore version of the venerable popping cork and live shrimp combination, which has been catching fish for many decades.

This is a great lure choice for children. The more they jerk and clack and make noise, often times the better it works. The bite is also visual as when a fish takes the court just disappears. For these reasons, this makes the DOA deadly combo a good lower for both kids and novice anglers. It will catch plenty of speckled trout as well.

In conclusion, this article on the best 7 fishing lures for redfish will help simplify the lures and techniques for catching reds!

 

 

 

Fishing for Redfish and Speckled Trout

Fishing for redfish and speckled trout, strategies for success!

Speckled trout and redfish are without a doubt two of the most popular inshore saltwater game fish. They inhabit the same waters, being plentiful from Chesapeake Bay to Texas. Anglers fishing for redfish and speckled trout mostly target them on the fertile, shallow flats. Both species feed on a wide variety of bait fish and crustaceans. While many tactics and baits will catch both species, there are some differences in habits. Therefore, they will be covered individually.

Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

Fishing for redfish

Sarasota fishing calendar

Redfish are one of the most popular inshore species for inshore saltwater anglers, right up there was snook and speckled trout. Redfish inhabit the entire Southeast part of the United States, from Texas around to Florida and up as far as the mid Atlantic. They are an extremely popular game fish in all these areas.

Redfish are known by several different names depending on the geography. Red drum, channel bass, and puppy drum are several of the more popular ones. Here in Florida we simply call them redfish, or reds for short. They are found on the shallow grass flats where they school up. Redfish are often caught under docks and near other structure as well.

Best 6 fishing lures for redfish

Fishing for redfish on the shallow flats.

Most anglers targeting redfish do so on the shallow grass flats, particularly those up in backwater areas. Tidal creeks are great spots as well. While the deeper grass flats attract speckled trout bluefish, Spanish mackerel and other species, reds prefer the shallower water.

fishing Sarasota Florida

Redfish begin to school up in large numbers in late summer and early fall. They will be found on the flats for a few months before migrating out into the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean to spawn. Many of these fish will be “over slot”. Redfish have an 18” minimum and a 27” maximum in most states.

Fishing in water that shallow presents some challenges. Fish are quite spooky when there’s barely enough water to cover their backs! This means that anglers must be stealthy when approaching them. Many shallow draft skiffs are specially designed to be extra quiet on the flats. Waiting is also a great way to sneak up on skittish redfish.

best redfish lures

Effect of tides when fishing for redfish on the flats

Tides are critical when targeting redfish. Most anglers prefer a low, incoming tide. This tends to congregate the schools of redfish on the edges of bars and flats. They will also stage in what we call “potholes”. These are slight depressions in the shallow grass flats. The difference can be minimal, but enough to make a difference. A 3 foot depression on a flat that has 10 inches of water can hold an entire school of fish.

Fishing for redfish on a rising tide

As the tide rises, reds will move up onto the flats and scatter out. They are feeding but are also scattered out. This can make them difficult to locate. On the highest stage, or flood tide, the fish will move way up under the mangroves. So, while it is easier to get the boat up on the flats on the higher stages of the tide, the fish are also much more difficult to locate.

Sarasota fishing charters

Anglers targeting redfish in shallow water can be effective with both artificial lures and live bait. Artificial lures are generally best when prospecting for fish. The reason is simple, lures allow anglers to cover a lot of water much more quickly than they can do with live bait. Live bait can work very well once fish are located in a certain area.

Fishing for redfish with artificial lures

One of the most effective lures for locating redfish on a flat is the weedless spoon. The venerable Johnson Silver Minnow in the half ounce gold color has pulled many redfish over the years. It is a simple bait that can be cast a long way, is extremely weedless, and has a great fish attracting action. It has a large single hook which rides up in a weed guard covering the tip. There are many other manufacturers who produce quality weedless spoons as well. Local tackle shops will have a good selection of the most productive baits. A small black swivel is required when using spoons to help eliminate line twist.

Sarasota fishing charters

Soft plastic baits can also be very effective when searching for redfish. They don’t cover quite as much water as spoons do as the bait is moved a bit more slowly. Soft plastic baits are more effective when the angler has a general idea of where the fish may be. Bass Assassin makes a terrific line of soft plastic baits in a myriad of sizes and colors. A 4” to 5” bait is about the right size with both paddle tales and jerk worms style baits being effective.

Anglers can read this article, “Best 7 Fishing Lures for Redfish” that Capt Jim wrote.

Rigging soft plastic baits for redfish

Anglers have a choice in how they rigged their soft plastic baits. The most simple technique is to rigg the bait on a 1/16 ounce or 1/8 ounce jig head. The hook will ride up in the bait will generally be snag free, though it will pick up grass on the head.

Another option is a swim bait hook. These can be used to rigged the bait either Texas rigged while some have a weed guard. Both result in a fairly weedless presentation. These hooks also have a weight in the middle of the hook, resulting in the bait having a natural horizontal presentation.

fishing for edfish and speckled trout

Plugs can also be effective for redfish on the flats. If the water is very shallow, a foot or two deep, anglers will have to use top water plugs. While redfish have an inferior mouth, that means it is behind the nose pointing down. They will take a bait on the surface. Rapala Skitterwalk and Heddon Zara Spook baits are both very effective. Anglers working slightly deeper water or mangrove shorelines can score with a shallow diving plugs such as the Rapala X-Rap slashbait.

Fishing for redfish using live bait

There are situations where live bait can be more effective when fishing the shallow flats. As mentioned earlier, redfish will stage up in potholes on the lower tide stages. A large live shrimp fished in these holes can be deadly. Many anglers remove the tail and insert the hook in that area. This results in the shrimp’s natural juices dispersing into the pothole. A number one ought live bait hook and a light split shot is all that is required.

There is a technique here in Florida called “live bait chumming”. Anglers use their cast net to catch several hundred lively scaled sardines or threadfin herring. The boat is an anchored in a likely spot and every few minutes a handful of bait fish is tossed out. If redfish are around, they will usually respond to the chum. Plenty of snook are caught using this method as well.

fishing in Carolina

It can be a bit overwhelming searching for reds on the shallow flats. There are just so many places that the fish can be! Many anglers believe that finding schools of mullet on the flats is a key to success. The thought is that the mullet stir up the bottom while swimming along, dislodging crabs and other forage from the weeds. This is a natural chum line that will attract redfish. Birds, bait fish, and other game fish are also signs of a lively redfish flat. Otherwise, it is just a matter of patience and experience.

Florida redfish fishing tips; docks hold reds!

Many redfish are caught by anglers fishing docks. Docks provide both cover and forage for redfish. Areas of Florida can be fairly developed, and this means many miles of residential canals and shorelines with docks. Just like with the flats, trial and error and experience will pay off in the long run.

fishing for reedfish and speckled trout

I have found in my experience that the most productive redfish docks are in between four and 8 feet of water. Anglers who prefer casting artificial lures can use the trolling motor and slowly work a line of docks. A quarter ounce jig with a soft plastic body work well for this type of fishing. One days when the bite is tough, switching to a scented baits such as the Gulp Shrimp can make the difference.

Live bait produces redfish

It is tough to beat a live bait when fishing docks for redfish and other species. It gives anglers the opportunity to thoroughly work a good dock. A large live shrimp is a great year-round bait. They are easily acquired at local bait shops. A #1/0 live bait hook in a split shot or two is a simple and effective rig. An added bonus to this technique is that many other species will be caught as well. Snook, mangrove snapper, flounder, black drum, and other species will intercept a shrimp meant for a red.

guide to saltwater fishing

Live bait fish can also be used effectively when targeting redfish under docks. The same live bait chumming method is deadly on redfish and snook when implemented around the dock. A 3 inch pin fish or grunt can also be deadly and will usually catch larger fish. The downside to using live bait fish is that anglers in most instances will have to catch their own.

Redfish fishing tackle

Tackle for targeting redfish is pretty straightforward. The same outfits that are used for speckled trout and snook fishing will do fine when pursuing redfish. A 7 foot medium action rod with a 3000 series real spooled with 15 pound monofilament or 20 pound braided line works well. As in other forms of saltwater fishing, a 30 inch piece of 30 pounds fluorocarbon leader is used.

plug fishing Sarasota

Redfish to follow a seasonal pattern. In the winter most reds are caught in canals, creeks, and under docks in the backwater areas. In spring they scatter out onto the flats. Most fish will be in very small pods. By late summer they are schooled up into larger numbers on the flats before moving out into the Gulf. In the fall, reds can be anywhere, flats, Gulf, and backwater spots. Redfish are tightly managed. Anglers can find current regulations HERE.

Speckled trout fishing techniques

This blog post will focus on fishing ladies speckled trout fishing. Speckled trout are arguably the most popular saltwater inshore game fish on the entire Gulf Coast. Speckled trout are aggressive, plentiful, strike hard, and taste great. They are also a very beautiful fish!

Sarasota fishing excursion

Why are speckled trout so popular? Speckled trout are a beautiful and great eating fish. They are caught using a wide variety of baits and fishing techniques. Both artificial lures and live baits are very productive as is fly fishing. Trout are widely distributed and available along the coast line from Texas to Maryland. Speckled trout are normally caught on the grass flats in Sarasota where I fish. They are also caught on shallow oyster bars and holes, especially the larger specimens.

Fishing for speckled trout: Tackle and baits

Spinning tackle is the most popular type of tackle used when targeting speckled trout. Spinning tackle is very versatile, allowing anglers to cast very light lures and baits along with heavier lures such as plugs and spoons. A 6 1/2 foot to 7 foot medium action spinning rod with a 3000 series real is a great combination. 10 pound monofilament line or 20 pound braided line fills to school.

One of the oldest and still most productive techniques is a popping cork rig. A popping cork is a float that makes a noisy popping sound when twitched sharply. A live bait or even and artificial lure is then fished 2 feet to 3 feet under the float. This noise simulates the sound that fish make when feeding on the surface. It excites speckled trout and other species, calling them to the bait.

charter fishing Siesta Key

The most commonly used bait under a popping cork is a live shrimp. I would venture to say that more trout were landed using a live shrimp under a popping cork that all other angling methods combined. The reason is simple; it is deadly effective. The float calls the fish in to the bait and suspends the shrimp just above the grass. It also gives anglers a visual aid as the float disappears when a speckled trout takes the shrimp. Popping corks come in a wide variety of designs, colors, and shapes, but they all work the same.

Speckled trout live bait rigs and tackle

A # 1/0 live bait hook works well when fishing live shrimp for trout. If current or wind is present, a small split shot may be required a foot or so above the hook. Shrimp are hooked in the head just under the horn and in front of the brain. This keeps the shrimp alive and kicking, however, hopefully not for very long!

Live bait fish can be used under a popping cork as well. A 2 inch to 3 inch live grunt or live pin fish works very well and will often catch larger trout that shrimp will. The smaller 12 inch to 15 inch trout will not usually take these larger baits. They are also ignored by bait stealers such as pin fish, blowfish, and other undesirable species.

Speckled trout fishing with lures

Lastly, artificial lures are used under these noisy floats as well. Artificial shrimp such as the Gulp Shrimp work well under a popping cork. Gulp Shrimp are heavily scented and fish almost the same as a live shrimp does. Other manufacturers make very lifelike artificial shrimp. A soft plastic shad tail bait on a very light jig head can also be a productive combination.

best Sarasota fishing charter

Speaking of the jig and grub combination, it is without a doubt the most popular artificial lure for anglers targeting speckled trout. Trout love the action of these lures! The lure is cast out and allowed to fall a few feet. It is and jerked up a foot or so and allowed to fall again. Trout and other game fish find this action deadly and in most instances will take the bait as it falls.

Soft plastic baits come in a myriad of sizes and colors. Don’t get overwhelmed, they are all basically the same and are all effective when fished correctly. Jigs come in weights. Most of the trout in my area are caught between 5 and 8 feet deep. This makes a 1/4 ounce jig the best choice. In my opinion, jig head color matters very little. However, white, and chartreuse are the most popular colors. I have caught countless trout using an unpainted jig head.

Speckled trout take jigs and other artificial lures

Three inch paddle tail or shad tail grubs are the most popular. Twister tail baits can be effective, however pin fish will oftentimes dip the tail off. This can be true of shad tail baits as well. Glow, chartreuse, white, pink, olive, root beer, and new penny are the most popular colors. I believe in the “clear water light color and darker lures and darker water” theory. But, presentation and location are the overriding factors.

fishing Sarasota Bay

Plugs catch plenty of speckled trout as well. One downside to using plugs are the multiple trouble hooks. This can make releasing speckled trout a bit more complicated and may damage the fish. Since most of the speckled trout caught will be released this is a factor to consider. Treble hooks can be replaced with single hooks. Suspending plugs such as the MirrOlure MirroDine are the most productive plugs. Top water plugs early and late in the day fished over shallow bars will catch some trophy speckled trout.

Spoons are another productive artificial lure when fishing the grass flats for speckled trout. Anglers fishing the deeper flats normally opt for a half ounce gold or silver spoon with an open treble hooks. Those seeking larger trout in shallow water will do better with a half ounce gold weedless spoon.

Fishing for speckled trout: Techniques

Most anglers in the area that I fish here in Sarasota, Florida choose to drift fish when targeting speckled trout. The reason for this is that the areas we fish are large expanses of open water with grass on the bottom. Drifting is just the most efficient way to cover the water and locate the fish. The best approach is to choose a flat where the wind and tide will move the boat in the same direction. This makes for an efficient drift. Once a productive area is located, anglers can anchor. Most choose to re-drift the area after motoring back around.

fishing Sarasota Bay

As stated earlier, anglers seeking larger fish will do best fishing shallower water. This might sound contradictory, but larger fish are found in shallower water while the schools of smaller to average sized fish are found in the deeper water. The theory is that these larger fish are loners and do not need the protection of the school.

Oyster bars and shallow flats on the higher tide stages are prime areas to catch a larger speckled trout. Top water plugs early in the morning are productive and will produce some explosive strikes. Weedless spoons and light weedless soft plastic baits are also effective. Live bait is difficult to fish in this very shallow water, with the exception being casting live shrimp into open potholes.

More speckled trout techniques

In the wintertime speckled trout may move off of the flats if the water temperature dips down into the low 50s. They will migrate to nearby channels and deeper canals where the water temperature is warmer near the bottom. Fish can be difficult to locate when this happens. However when a school is located the action will be fast and furious. A live shrimp or jig bounced on the bottom will produce.

Lido Key fishing charters

Anglers to catch speckled trout at night as well. The proven technique is to fish lighted docks but especially area bridges. Most bridges have streetlights and the shadow line where the shadow hits the lighted water on the up current side is generally the most productive spot. Anglers can anchor in the spot and cast live shrimp or jigs out. This is a great way to beat the summer heat.

Fly fishing for speckled trout

Speckled trout are great fish to target on fly as well. The best all round outfit is a 7wt combo with an intermediate clear sink tip line. An 8 foot leader with a 20 pound bite tippet works well and is easy to cast. Since most trout will be caught several feet below the surface, weighted flies work best. The venerable Clouser Deep Minnow is a great choice. But, just about any waited pattern will produce.

Fly fishing Sarasota

The technique when fly fishing is pretty much the same as spin fishing. The fly is cast ahead of the drifting boat, then retrieved back and using short strips. The best cast is one that is 45° to the boat and not straight out. This makes it easier for the fly angler to keep up with the slack as the boat drifts towards the fly. Fly fishing also works very well in the lights when night fishing. Speckled trout regulations can be seen HERE.

In closing, this article on speckled trout fishing techniques will help you c

Fishing for redfish and speckled trout in Steinhatchee Florida

This article shares Steinhatchee Florida fishing tips, with Vanessa catching speckled trout and redfish on the shallow flats. The Steinhatchee River empties into the gulf of Mexico in Florida’s Big Bend area. This is a less populated area of Florida that offers fantastic fishing!

fishing for speckled trout

The Steinhatchee River empties into the Gulf of Mexico in a spot known as Deadman’s Bay. This area of Florida does not have beaches and thus gets much less tourist traffic than other parts of the state. That equates to less fishing pressure as well. This area is a sportsman’s paradise, offering fantastic opportunities for fishing, hunting, and scalloping.

Several rivers empty into the Gulf of Mexico in this area, including the Steinhatchee, Suwanee, and St. Mark’s. These rivers bring nutrients to the fertile grass flats. The geography underwater is unique in that it has a very gradual slope. Water depth averages about 1 foot per mile from shore in this area. That means that lush grass flats extend for miles from the shoreline.

Steinhatchee speckled trout and redfish

Speckled trout and redfish are the primary game fish on the flats of Steinhatchee. This is ideal habitat for both species as countless square miles of flats abound. There are also some natural ledges offshore that hold grouper, snapper, and other species. Artificial reefs about 10 miles from shore offer anglers the same opportunities.

fishing for redfish

The flats off of the Steinhatchee River offer anglers the opportunity to catch several other species along with the trout and reds. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, pompano, and ladyfish are just a few of the species that migrate along the Florida coast.

The fertile flats off of Steinhatchee offer the species a great spot to feed on their way north and then again on their way south. While most anglers target trout and redfish, these other species can provide great action as well. Anglers seeking the ultimate challenge can choose to targed the elusive giant tarpon.

Steinhatchee fishing tackle

Tackle requirements for fishing the Steinhatchee area are pretty basic. A 6 1/2 foot to 7 foot spinning rod with a 3000 series reel spooled up with 10 pound monofilament line or 20 pound braided line will get the job done and catch just about every species available. A 24 inch piece of shock leader should be used as well. 25 pound test is a good all-around size.

Vanessa offers some advice to any angler visiting the Steinhatchee area. Quite simply, it is all about the shrimp! Shrimp are the main forage of every species that lives in her migrate through this area. Anglers using live shrimp or artificial lures that mimic shrimp will experience success.

redfish and trout fishing

No matter where an angler is fishing in Florida, is tough to beat a live shrimp. Steinhatchee is no exception. However, due to the abundance of shallow flats, angling techniques need to be adjusted. When using live shrimp, many anglers fish a shrimp for trout and redfish 2 feet under a noisy cork. The cork makes a “popping” sound which simulates feeding fish. It attracts game fish to the bait. This combination is deadly everywhere in Florida.

Shrimp are the key live bait in Steinhatchee

Vanessa prefers to free line her live shrimp. Using just a hook with no weight, the shrimp is allowed to swim naturally. Anglers must pay attention to the line and keep the shrimp up out of the grass. However, she feels that is it more fun and challenging to present a shrimp in this manner.

Vanessa enjoys casting artificial lures as well. Her favorite lure is the Gulp Shrimp. Since live shrimp are the primary forage of most game fish, it makes sense to use an artificial lure that mimics this forage. She fishes it on an unweighted, weedless #1/0 hook. The lure is cast out, allowed to sink, and slowly worked over the top of the grass.

One mistake many novice anglers make is working the shrimp too fast. Shrimp normally swim around at a fairly slow pace. They do not jerk up and down in three or 4 foot movements. A slower, more subtle approach will generally catch more fish as it is a much more lifelike presentation.

The jig and grub combo works well in Steinhatchee, as it does throughout the entire Gulf Coast. These lures mimic shrimp and other crustaceans that trout and reds feed on. Jig head weights can be matched to the depth of water that is being fished. Light 1/16 and 1/8 ounce jig heads work well in shallow water while ¼ ounce jigs are the best choice on the deeper flats. Color favorites vary, but Vanessa prefers red and white.

Pinfish produce in Steinhatchee, too

Pin fish are the other bait that Vanessa recommends to visiting anglers. Pin fish can be caught relatively quickly with a tiny hook in a piece of shrimp. However, Vanessa prefers to put out a pin fish trap, go fish for a couple hours, then come back and collect the bait. This saves some valuable fishing time.

Vanessa has a secret trick that makes a pinfish irresistible to redfish and speckled trout. She actually bites the tail (yes, using her mouth) of the pinfish off. The now injured bait fish acts erratically and this drastically increased that chance that it gets hit.

Pin fish work very well under a float. Without the float, the pin fish will dive down into the grass and get snagged. Pin fish tend to catch less fish but will generally attract larger specimens. Speckled trout in particular will be attracted to these larger bait fish as they provide more of a meal than a shrimp will.

Plugs that imitate pin fish will catch speckled trout, redfish, and other species. The venerable MirrOlure was invented in the Big Bend area of Florida. It is a slow sinking and suspending bait. When twitched, it jerks forward then hangs there motionless. This action drives fish crazy and triggers the strikes as it realistically imitates a helpless bait fish.

Steinhatchee Florida fishing tips; seasons

Spring and fall are the best times to fish the flats of Steinhatchee. Speckled trout spawn in mid to late spring and are abundant on the grass flats. Redfish will be available, but will be scattered out and not schooled up in big numbers. The deeper edges of the flats will attract bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and other species. Same goes for the offshore artificial reefs, they will hold bait fish which in turn will attract the predator game fish.

Anglers fishing Steinhatchee in the summer need to get up early, for couple of reasons. For one, it is hot! The best bite will usually be in early one, especially on the morning high tide. This is a great time to throw a top water plug for a trophy trout or big redfish. By mid-morning, the bite will slow down in the scallopers will show up. That is the second reason for getting out there early; scallop fishing is very popular in this area. It attracts many visitors which of course means more boat traffic.

Fall fishing in Steinhatchee

Fall fishing and Steinhatchee is nothing short of fantastic! Cooler weather means lower water temperatures which really turns the bite on. The bite is normally best from mid-afternoon until dark. It is also much more comfortable for anglers to be out on the water all day this time of year. It seldom rains in most morning start out a bit cool then warming up nicely throughout the day.

Redfish school up in big numbers in preparation for their spawning run in September and October. It is great sport to sight cast these large schools of fish as they wake across the shallow flats. However, they can be spooky and at times difficult to catch. Anglers who patiently stalk the fish and make long casts will have more success. A gold weedless spoon is an excellent lure for targeting redfish in the shallow water.

River speckled trout

Anglers visiting Steinhatchee in the late fall can experience something that is truly remarkable. Large numbers of big gator trout migrate off of the shallow flats and into the deeper waters of the Steinhatchee River. Vanessa can personally vouch for that! The outside bends in the rivers have deeper holes. This water is quite warmer then the water on the exposed shallow flats. Trout will seek out is warmer water as refuge from winter cold fronts.

The action can be spectacular once a school of these large trout is located. An artificial shrimp, live shrimp, or jig bounced on the bottom should provide great action. It is important to treat these fish with respect! Keeping a fish or two for dinner is fine, but these are breeder fish and are important for the future of the species. Florida fishing regulations can be found at the FWC site.

Winter river trout fishing in Steinhatchee

Winter fishing is all about the weather, pure and simple. Successful anglers will adapt to the ever changing weather conditions. As cold fronts move through, they bring when which will stir up the flats. This results in dirty, muddy water. This results in fishing on the flats being pretty slow, though persistent anglers can sometimes find clean water. Under these conditions, it is best to target fish in the river.

However, after a couple nice days, the water will settle down. As it clears up and warms up, the bite will resume on the grass flats. Oyster bars that drop off into deeper water or the edges of flats and 4 foot of water to 5 feet of water will generally be more productive than the very shallow flats. Fishing can be very good several days after the front as the fish have not fed for a couple days. As the next cold front approaches, the cycle will repeat itself.

This article will feature our ladies fishing inshore Carolina. Speckled trout, flounder, and Red and black drum are four very popular inshore saltwater species. They are found on the East Coast of the United States from Maryland down to Florida. They are also popular along the entire Gulf Coast. These fish are prized along the coastal Carolinas.

Fishing for redfish and speckled trout in Carolina

Both red and black drum are similar in habits, though they do have their differences. Both have an “inferior mouth”which basically means the nose protrudes past the mouth. This is a great indication of the way that drum feed. They scour the bottom in search of crustaceans, but also feed on bait fish as well.

fishing in Carolina

Speckled trout love oyster bars as well. They feed on the same shrimp, crabs, and bait fishing as do the other species. They are also found over flats and along channel edges. Grass flats, where occurring, will hold speckled trout as well.

Flounder are a bottom species that are highly prized for their snow-white fillets. They bury in the mud and ambush their prey as the current brings it past. They prefer sand and mud bottoms right off the edge of oyster bars and other structures. Flounder also are found in inlets, channels, and around bridges and docks. They prefer areas that have increased current flow.

Sierra has spent a lot of time fishing the inshore waters of North Carolina and knows them well. She loves the shallow water fishing environment in which drum, trout, and flounder live and thrive in. Sierra is sharing her experience and enjoys helping other anglers achieve success.

Differences in the two drums

Red drum are known by several other names throughout the United States. Smaller red drum are known as “puppy drum”. These are found at many local restaurants that offer fresh caught seafood. Larger red drum are known as “channel bass”. In Florida and along the Gulf Coast red drums are simply called “reds” or “redfish”. They are all the same species and can be caught using the same methods.

fishing for speckled trout

While red drum to have an inferior mouth, they can be quite aggressive. Many are taken by anglers casting artificial lures, even top water plugs. Depending on the season and location, red drum can be caught in large schools or as singles. Red drum are very good to eat, especially fish in the 18 inch to 24 inch range. Late summer is the best time to catch a large red drum.

Black drum are a bit less aggressive than red drum. Most black drum are caught by anglers using natural bait as opposed to artificial lures. Crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs are the top baits. However, they can be caught on minnows and cut bait as well. They can be induced to take and artificial lure, though not as readily as a red drum. Smaller black drum are delicious, however the larger specimens can get wormy.

Fishing in Carolina, tackle

The same tackle that most anglers use for their general inshore saltwater fishing will be fine for targeting red and black drum. Sierra’s favorite outfit is a 7 foot medium action Fenwick HMG rod with a 3000 series Penn Battle or Shimano Stradic reel. She spools the real up with 10 pound test power Pro rated line and a 20 pound test fluorocarbon leader.

Both red drum and black drum along with speckled trout and flounder are caught in the same basic locations. Oyster bars are prime spots as there is plentiful forage such as shrimp, crabs and bait fish. Flats in 2 feet to 4 feet of water with oyster bars and stumps are prime locations. All four species can also be caught around deeper structure such as docks and bridges. Fish will school up along rock jetties at the inlets as well.

Fishing inshore Carolina, artificial baits

Sierra prefers to target trout, flounder, and drum in shallow water. She prefers casting artificial lures in this environment is better suited for that technique. The Johnson Silver Minnow has been catching red drum for decades. Sierra prefers the 1/8th ounce size in Nickel blue and gold. Paddle tail jigs are another of her favorite baits. She likes the D.O.A CAL Shad Tail baits in rootbeer/chartreuse and Electric Chicken colors. Both baits put out a lot a vibration which draw the fish to the lure.

Artificial baits have one primary advantage over live baits; they allow anglers to Cover a lot of water in a relatively short amount of time. The Johnson spoon in particular is a very effective search bait. Anglers can cast a long way and cover a lot of water, eliminating unproductive areas quickly. Once fish are located, it can be great fun to catch them on a top water plug. This is particularly true on a high tide.

The jig and grub combo has been a favorite bait of inshore anglers for a long time. It is a proven bait that catches a wide variety of species. Sierra likes the D.O.A Premium jig head jig in the 1/8 ounce sizes. It is paired with pearl, white, or glow Gulp Swimming Mullet. The best retrieve is one where the jig is bounced along the bottom in short “hops”.

Fishing for redfish and trout in Carolina with live bait

Live bait certainly accounts for a lot of fish for anglers fishing the inshore waters of the Carolinas. Live shrimp are the number one bait followed by mud mullets. These baits can be fished under a popping cork, with a Carolina rig, or even free lined. Current strength and water depth will determine the best rig to use.

A live shrimp under a popping cork is deadly for just about every inshore species. The cork is placed 2 feet above a #1/0 live bait hook. The rig is cast out and allowed to settle. The rod tip is then twitched sharply a couple of times. The noise the cork makes simulates feeding fish and will draw game fish to the bait. Popping corks work best and water shallower than 6 feet deep.

A Carolina rigs consist of the weight with a hole in it, a swivel, a 30 inch piece of 20lb-30lb leader, and a #/1/0 live bait hook. The line slides through the sinker than the swivel is attached. The leader with the hook on it is tied to the other end of the swivel. This rig allows the fish to pick up the bait and move off with it without feeling the resistance of the weight. This rig is very effective for flounder and both red and black drum along with other species. Both live bait and cut bait work well using this technique.

Importance of tides when fishing inshore Carolina

Tides are very important when fishing inshore. Incoming tides have the fish moving up on oyster bars and flats in search of forage. On the high tide, fish will be scattered all over the flats. As the tide begins to fall, fish will stage in strategic spots where they can ambush prey. By the low tide, they will have moved to the deeper holes and channels. Successful anglers understand how tides affect fish movements and adjust accordingly.

In closing, this article on our ladies fishing inshore Carolina should help anglers understand the techniques and baits that will help anglers catch more fish!