Redfish are common in many of the bays throughout the Gulf and up part of the East Coast. You can find redfish in many different areas throughout the bays. Depending on where you are fishing, you may be targeting redfish around bridges, under docks, on the flats, in the inlets just off the bays, along mangroves, at the mouths of passes and around piers.
The bridges that line the coasts can be some of the most productive fishing spots for redfish, although, most anglers pass the bridges up on their way to fish their favorite flat. Bridges offer many things that are ideal for redfish. With the changing tides, current pushes water by the bridges and this creates tons of great ambush points for bigger fish. The barnacle encrusted pilings also help draw fish into the area.
Docks can be great areas for targeting redfish. The entire length of a dock can hold some fish, but the deeper water near the end of the dock will usually hold more and bigger redfish. A simple drop-shot rig with a small hook and live shrimp is the easiest way to catch redfish around the docks. Anglers use a variety of baits and artificial lures that will also work around the docks. Slower moving baits tend to work better because you can keep them in the strike zone longer.
Fishing the flats is probably the most common way to target redfish. These fish are known for feeding on shrimp, small crabs and bait fish on the shallow water flats. At times, you may find redfish tailing on the flats, which can get very exciting. These tailing fish are feeding on the bottom and because the water is so shallow, anglers can see their tails just above the water’s surface. Tailing redfish can easily be caught if you can get your bait in front of their face without spooking them. Anglers use a variety of baits and lures to catch redfish on the flats. Live or dead shrimp, pinfish, white bait, jigs, spinnerbaits, spoons and topwater lures are some of the more popular baits and lures that are used on the flats for redfish. Fishing the flats tends to be much better when there is some moving water. An incoming tide or falling tide will often provide much better fishing than during a slack tide.
The creeks, inlets and backwaters can provide some excellent fishing for redfish. During an incoming tide, redfish will navigate through the cuts and channels as they move into these shallow water areas. As the water levels rise, redfish will move out of the cuts and channels and up onto the flats to feed.
As the water moves back out of these shallow water areas, redfish will move off of the flats and into the cuts and channels. Just a couple feet of water can hold some impressive numbers of slot-sized redfish. At times, you may even see good numbers of redfish swimming out of the creeks towards open water. If you can position your boat correctly, you will have redfish coming right towards your boat. Fishing doesn’t get much easier than this as these fish will more than likely grab another quick meal before the slack tide.
Mangroves provide some excellent cover for many different types of saltwater fish. An incoming tide usually provides the best fishing for redfish near the mangroves. When the rising water gets high enough to cover the roots of the mangroves, redfish will move into the mangroves to feed on a variety of different baits.
An outgoing tide can also be productive, but make sure you get to your favorite fishing spot before the water levels drop too much. Once you see most of the roots out of water, there will be little cover for redfish to hide.
Fishing the passes might be the best way to catch bull redfish. During tidal changes, you can find current moving through the passes and this helps to bring in all types of bait such as crabs, shrimp and bait fish. Redfish will move into these areas to grab an easy meal and you can often find plenty of big redfish in the passes.
If you don’t have access to a boat, the piers may be your best chance to catch a trophy redfish. The piers tend to offer better fishing during a tidal change. Combine a tidal change with lowlight conditions during the morning or evening and you should have a better chance to catch some redfish off of the piers. Depending on how crowded the piers are, you may not be able to cast lures up and down the pier. Fishing with shrimp, live bait fish or cut bait on the bottom is how most anglers catch redfish from the piers.
Redfish can be caught from the surf, although, it is much more common to target redfish in the bays, on the flats or back in the creeks. If you are planning on fishing for redfish in the surf, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of catching some fish. Tidal changes provide better fishing and most anglers would agree that an incoming tide is better than an outgoing tide for surf fishing. Lowlight conditions combined with a tidal change will also help to improve the fishing. The cuts and troughs usually hold most of the fish along the surf and this is definitely the case for redfish. Live baits, cut baits and artificial lures will all work for redfish along the surf.