Redfishing in the Everglades: What You Need to Know

Introduction to Redfishing in the Everglades

Redfishing in the Everglades is a dream come true for many anglers. The unique ecosystem provides a perfect habitat for redfish, also known as red drum, making it one of the most sought-after fishing destinations in the world. The vast network of mangroves, shallow waters, and tidal creeks creates an ideal environment for redfish to thrive. This guide will provide you with everything you need to know to make your redfishing trip to the Everglades a success.

The Best Time to Fish for Redfish in the Everglades

Timing is crucial when planning a redfishing trip. The Everglades offers excellent fishing opportunities year-round, but certain times of the year are better than others.

Seasonal Considerations

  • Spring (March to May): Spring is one of the best times to fish for redfish in the Everglades. The warming waters and increased activity of baitfish attract redfish to the shallows. During this time, you can expect to find large schools of redfish in the backwaters and flats.
  • Summer (June to August): Summer can be a productive time for redfishing, but it can also be challenging due to the heat and increased rainfall. Early mornings and late evenings are the best times to fish during the summer months. Look for redfish in deeper channels and under mangrove canopies where the water is cooler.
  • Fall (September to November): Fall is another excellent time for redfishing in the Everglades. As the water temperatures start to drop, redfish become more active and feed aggressively in preparation for winter. This is also the time when you can catch some of the largest redfish.
  • Winter (December to February): Winter can be a bit more challenging due to cooler water temperatures, but it is still possible to catch redfish. Focus on fishing during the warmest part of the day and look for redfish in deeper waters where the temperatures are more stable.

Understanding Redfish Behavior

Knowing the behavior of redfish is essential for a successful fishing trip. Redfish are known for their powerful runs and stubborn nature, making them a favorite among sport fishermen.

Feeding Habits

Redfish are opportunistic feeders and will eat a wide variety of prey. Their diet mainly consists of:

  • Crustaceans: Shrimp, crabs, and other small crustaceans are a staple in the redfish diet. They can often be found rooting around in the mud and grass flats in search of these tasty morsels.
  • Baitfish: Mullet, pinfish, and other small fish are also commonly eaten by redfish. During the fall mullet run, redfish can be seen feeding aggressively on these fish.
  • Mollusks: Redfish will also consume clams, oysters, and other shellfish. Look for areas with oyster beds and shell bottom where redfish are likely to be feeding.

Habitat Preferences

Redfish prefer shallow, grassy flats, mangrove-lined shores, and estuaries. They are often found in water less than two feet deep, but they can also be found in deeper channels and around structures such as docks and piers. Understanding their habitat preferences will help you locate them more effectively.

Essential Gear for Redfishing in the Everglades

Having the right gear is crucial for a successful redfishing trip. Here are some recommendations for the essential equipment you will need:

Fishing Rods and Reels

  • Rods: A medium to medium-heavy rod, around 7 to 7.5 feet in length, is ideal for redfishing. This provides the right balance of sensitivity and power to handle the strong runs of redfish.
  • Reels: A quality spinning reel with a smooth drag system is essential. Look for reels that can hold at least 150 yards of 20-30 lb braided line.

Bait and Lures

  • Live Bait: Live shrimp, mullet, and pinfish are excellent choices for redfish. Hook them through the nose or tail to allow for natural movement.
  • Artificial Lures: Soft plastics, spoons, and topwater lures can be very effective. Choose lures that mimic the natural prey of redfish, such as shrimp and baitfish.

Tackle and Accessories

  • Leader Material: Use fluorocarbon leaders in the 20-30 lb range. This material is more abrasion-resistant and less visible in the water.
  • Hooks and Terminal Tackle: Circle hooks are recommended for live bait, as they reduce the chance of gut-hooking the fish. Make sure to have a variety of hook sizes and weights to match the conditions.

Techniques for Catching Redfish

Understanding the right techniques can significantly improve your chances of catching redfish in the Everglades.

Sight Fishing

One of the most exciting ways to catch redfish is by sight fishing. This involves spotting the fish in the shallow waters and casting directly to them. Look for signs of redfish, such as tails breaking the surface, wakes, or shadows in the water.

Topwater Fishing

Topwater lures can be very effective, especially during low light conditions. The explosive strikes of redfish hitting a topwater lure is a thrilling experience. Walk-the-dog style lures and popping plugs work well for this technique.

Fishing the Tides

Tides play a significant role in redfishing. Incoming tides bring baitfish and other prey into the shallows, attracting redfish. Focus on fishing during the rising tide and the first few hours of the outgoing tide for the best results.

Using Live Bait

Fishing with live bait is a highly effective method for catching redfish. Free-lining live shrimp or baitfish near mangroves, oyster beds, or other structures can yield excellent results. Use just enough weight to keep the bait near the bottom.

Conservation and Regulations

It is essential to follow local regulations and practice conservation to ensure the sustainability of redfish populations.

Catch and Release

Practicing catch and release helps preserve the redfish population for future generations. Use barbless hooks when possible and handle the fish with care to minimize stress and injury. Always release redfish quickly and gently back into the water.

Size and Bag Limits

Make sure to familiarize yourself with the local size and bag limits for redfish. In the Everglades, there are specific regulations regarding the size and number of redfish that can be kept. Adhering to these regulations is crucial for maintaining healthy fish populations.

Planning Your Trip

Guided Tours

If you are new to redfishing or the Everglades, consider hiring a local guide. Experienced guides can provide valuable insights and increase your chances of success. They are familiar with the best spots and techniques for catching redfish.

Lodging and Accommodations

The Everglades offers a variety of lodging options, from rustic cabins to luxury lodges. Plan your accommodations in advance to ensure a comfortable stay. Many fishing lodges also offer guided tours and boat rentals.

Permits and Licenses

Ensure you have the necessary permits and fishing licenses before your trip. Check with local authorities for the most up-to-date requirements and regulations.


Redfishing in the Everglades is an unforgettable experience for anglers of all skill levels. With the right preparation, gear, and knowledge, you can enjoy a successful and enjoyable fishing trip. Remember to respect the environment and practice conservation to preserve this unique ecosystem for future generations.

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