Redfishing Season: Best Times and Places to Fish

When it comes to redfishing, timing and location are crucial. Redfish, also known as red drum, are highly sought-after due to their fighting spirit and delicious taste. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, knowing the best times and places to fish for redfish can significantly enhance your chances of success. This comprehensive guide will provide you with detailed insights into the prime seasons and top locations for redfishing, ensuring you have an unforgettable experience on the water.


Understanding Redfish Behavior and Habitat

Redfish Habitat

Redfish are predominantly found in coastal waters, estuaries, and bays. They thrive in shallow waters with muddy or sandy bottoms, often seeking shelter among seagrass beds, oyster reefs, and mangroves. These fish are particularly abundant in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic Coast of the United States. Understanding their habitat preferences is key to locating them during different seasons.

Redfish Seasonal Movements

Redfish exhibit seasonal migrations influenced by water temperature, salinity, and food availability. During the warmer months, they are often found inshore, frequenting shallow bays and estuaries. As temperatures drop, redfish move to deeper waters to maintain their metabolic rates. This seasonal movement pattern is essential for anglers to grasp when planning their fishing trips.

Best Times to Fish for Redfish


Spring is an excellent time for redfishing. As the water temperature begins to rise, redfish move from deeper wintering grounds to shallower areas to feed. The warmer waters stimulate their metabolism, making them more active and aggressive feeders. Look for redfish around marsh edges, creek mouths, and flats during this period. The months of March to May are particularly productive.


Summer offers prime redfishing opportunities, especially during the early morning and late evening hours when temperatures are cooler. Redfish are abundant in grass flats, oyster beds, and mangrove-lined shorelines. Night fishing can also be rewarding, as redfish are known to feed actively under the cover of darkness. June to August are the peak months for summer redfishing.


The fall season is arguably the best time for redfishing. As the water cools, redfish prepare for their spawning season, gathering in large schools in estuaries and near coastal passes. This behavior makes them easier to locate and target. The fall months of September to November are ideal for catching trophy-sized redfish. Look for them around jetties, inlets, and passes.


While winter can be challenging, it still offers opportunities for dedicated anglers. During this time, redfish tend to move to deeper channels and holes to stay warm. They become less active, so patience and slow retrieval techniques are essential. December to February can yield results if you focus on deep holes, channels, and river mouths where redfish congregate.

Top Locations for Redfishing


Florida is a redfish hotspot, offering diverse fishing environments from the Panhandle to the Keys. The Indian River Lagoon and Mosquito Lagoon on the east coast are renowned for their redfish populations. On the west coast, Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor provide excellent redfishing opportunities. Florida’s extensive coastline and warm climate make it a year-round destination for redfish enthusiasts.


Known as the “Sportsman’s Paradise,” Louisiana boasts some of the best redfishing in the world. The Marshes of the Mississippi Delta and the coastal regions of southern Louisiana are prime spots. Areas like Venice, Grand Isle, and Houma are famous for their abundant redfish populations. The nutrient-rich waters and extensive marshlands create an ideal habitat for redfish.


Texas offers exceptional redfishing along its Gulf Coast. The Laguna Madre and Rockport areas are particularly productive. Port Aransas, Galveston Bay, and the Sabine Lake area are also well-known for redfish action. The combination of vast seagrass beds, oyster reefs, and tidal flats provides an excellent environment for redfish.

North Carolina

North Carolina’s coastal waters are home to thriving redfish populations. The Pamlico Sound and the Outer Banks are popular destinations. Areas like Cape Lookout, Morehead City, and Wilmington offer great opportunities to catch redfish. The diverse habitats, including marshes, inlets, and flats, attract redfish year-round.

South Carolina

South Carolina offers fantastic redfishing, particularly in the Lowcountry region. The Charleston area, with its extensive marshes and estuaries, is a top spot. Hilton Head Island and Beaufort also provide excellent redfishing opportunities. The mild climate and productive estuarine systems make South Carolina a prime destination for redfish anglers.

Effective Techniques for Redfishing

Sight Fishing

Sight fishing is a highly effective technique for targeting redfish in shallow waters. This method involves spotting the fish visually before casting your lure or bait. Polarized sunglasses are essential to reduce glare and enhance visibility. Look for tailing redfish, which indicate feeding activity, and cast your bait ahead of them for the best results.

Using Live Bait

Live bait such as shrimp, mullet, and crabs are irresistible to redfish. When using live bait, ensure it is presented naturally to entice the fish. Hook the bait through the back or tail to allow it to move freely. Live bait is particularly effective in areas with strong currents or where redfish are actively feeding.

Artificial Lures

Artificial lures are a popular choice for redfish due to their versatility and effectiveness. Soft plastics, spoons, and topwater plugs are all productive options. When using artificial lures, vary your retrieval speed and pattern to mimic the movement of natural prey. Bright colors and realistic designs can increase your chances of success.

Fly Fishing

Fly fishing for redfish is a rewarding challenge for experienced anglers. This technique requires precision and skill, as you need to present the fly accurately and delicately. Use shrimp or crab patterns and focus on areas with clear water and abundant redfish activity. Fly fishing is particularly effective in shallow flats and marshes.

Essential Gear for Redfishing

Rods and Reels

When redfishing, choose a medium-heavy rod with a fast action tip. This setup provides the strength needed to handle large redfish while allowing for accurate casting. Pair your rod with a saltwater reel that has a smooth drag system and can hold at least 200 yards of braided line.

Line and Leaders

Braided line is the preferred choice for redfishing due to its strength and sensitivity. A 20-30 lb test line is suitable for most redfishing scenarios. Use a fluorocarbon leader of 20-30 lb test to ensure abrasion resistance and invisibility in clear water. Leaders should be around 2-3 feet long to prevent redfish from seeing the main line.

Hooks and Terminal Tackle

Circle hooks are highly recommended for redfishing as they reduce the risk of gut hooking and ensure a higher catch-and-release survival rate. Sizes 2/0 to 4/0 are ideal for most live bait applications. Ensure you have a variety of weights and jig heads to adapt to different water conditions and depths.

By understanding the seasonal patterns, ideal locations, and effective techniques for redfishing, you can maximize your chances of success and enjoy a rewarding fishing experience. Whether you prefer the thrill of sight fishing or the challenge of fly fishing, redfish offer an exciting target for anglers of all skill levels.

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