Redfish

sciaenops ocellatus

Redfish
Redfish are an inshore schooling fish that live in estuaries and along barrier islands from Virginia to Texas and into the Keys.
Spawning occurs along shore near passages to estuaries. The larvae drift into the estuaries and grow to maturity before returning to the outer beaches.

Redfish in the Indian River Lagoon do not leave after maturity. They spend their entire lives in this fertile food rich area and grow to gigantic size.

Redfish facts:

Redfish size by age
1 year 8"
1-2 year 14-18"
3 year 29"
4-5 year 31"
6-7 year 35-37"
8-10 year 38"
11-35year 39-44"
Fishing Regulations for Florida
Bag limit is one (1) redfish per day
Size limit is: release all under 18" and over 27"

Finding redfish
Redfish are found by locating their food sources. Scout new areas at low tide.

Redfish search these areas for food:
Flats with soft mud bottom
Grass flats- turtle, spartina
Rock piles
Mangrove islands
Oyster bars
Outlets from marshes
Sand bars
Beaches
Look for:
Mullet muds
Sting rays
Sheepshead
Creeks with swift current
Fast current tidal flows
When you find redfish in these areas, make a note of the tidal phase, time of day , time of year, weather, ect. They will likely be in this area again when similar conditions occur.

Redfish Food
Crabs comprise much of the redfish diet but they eat other available foods including shrimp, mullet, clams, menhaden, marine worms and small fry. Large redfish consume many blue crabs.

Redfish Flies
REDFISH FLY PATTERNS Crab or clouser minnows Seaducer or siliclone. Clouser minnow for schools. Poppers sometimes. Flies- minnow, popper, sliders, crabs, Flies- bend back, deceivers, seaducers, poppers, sliders, divers, clousers, crab. If your fly is refused change to smaller, darker fly Fly size #4-2/0 Large better when warm. Smaller darker better in winter. Redfish are attracted by top water commotion and will attack top water lures and flies. Gold Spoon very good for redfish. Gold spoon fly. Work weighted gold spoon fly slowly for redfish. Use weighted fly in passes or deeper water. Although not considered ethical by most flyfishers, some tip their fly with shrimp pieces to add scent. Sardines for redfish. Gold spoons. Slow sinking fly best bet. Poppers and sliders work well. Fun. Fiddler in the grass. Effective fly. Crab imitation.

Redfish Tackle

Flyrod
The proper flyrod size for redfish is 9 foot 10 weight. This size rod will handle the largest redfish which you may encounter. Smaller rods may be used to provide better action for smaller redfish.
Reels
As a general rule for salt water fishing, the reel should be made for the saltwater environment and should have a smooth drag system. Also, the reel should contain 200 yards of 20 lb backing which exceeds the requirements of the redfish but is needed for other species that may be hooked. If you want to risk your expensive flyline, an inexpensive reel with 100 yards of backing should be adequate for redfish.
Flyline
A floating weight forward (FWF) flyline is the standard for redfish. Because line hitting the water spook redfish, use the lightest line which you can cast effectively.
Leader
Redfish are not especially leader shy. Since there are many snags in redfish habitat,use a leader size that presents your fly most efficiently. Use the 60%- 20%-20% formula with 30 lb, 20 lb and 15 lb leader material respectively. Build your leaders 8 - 10 feet depending upon conditions. Use the same type and manufacturer leader material to assure that the knots seat properly. Vary the leader length according to conditions if very windy, shorter leaders will cast better.

Redfish Methods
See "Flats Fishing" sidebar. Redfish often move to very shallow areas to forage for food with their dorsal fin and back protruding through the surface. They are very spooky in this situation and must be fished gently. A longer leader and a smaller fly are required here. Try to determine which way the fish is moving and deliver the fly on their path. The fish is close, a minute strip will get the fishes attention. Look for tail protruding out of the water. Tailing fish are eating and a well presented fly in this situation very ofter produces a hook-up. Also look for head wakes while stalking redfish. Calculate the speed and depth of water and weight of the fly so that the presentation puts the fly in front of the redfish at the right depth 4-5 feet in front of the wake. Classic flyfishing. Casting to fish which you can see. When on the water plan a zig zag course to cover the most produtive water. Redfish can detect wave pressure from boats. Sun at back makes easier to see into the water. Only 40-50 foot casts are needed. Don't cast to fish moving away. A waste of time. Chum for redfish using a shrimp and crab mix or live baitfish. method: Gather about 500 minnows. Toss out into current. Keep steady stream of chum. present and fly pattern. Clouser in chartruese and white best bet. Anchor up current of an easy to see bottom area and throw out shrimp or crab int tidal flow. Chum tube. method: Bottom fishing, slow trolling shorelines beyond breakers during incoming tide and first hour of out going tide bottom fish the surf. From the beach- Wade shallows - boat 6" to 3' deep. pull up on rod to move the fly then let it fall back like wounded minnow. Early morning or late evening best times. Teasing technique made for redfish. Use gold spoon without hook to draw refish into casting range. Use surface poppers or sliders. or Deaducer in red and white, red and yellow with lead eyes. sizes #1 - #1/0 Also spoon flies. Release redfish carefully. They must be revived by rocking back and forth and not allowed to drop helplessly to the bottom. Use heavy enough tackle to bring in redfish. This allows you to end the fight quickly so as not to overtire the redfish. Especially important in hot summer because of reduced oxygen in the water.(fish fighting sidebar). Spot redfish by tail, fin or wake. Kill the motor and pole within casting range.

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