Redfish Species Guide | What, Where, How to Catch

What is a Redfish (Red Drum)?

The redfish, also known as a channel bass, puppy drum, red drum, spottail bass, or even just “red” is a common game fish, found in the Atlantic Ocean from Florida, to the Gulf of Mexico and as far north as Massachusetts

Redfish are related to black drum and are often found in the same areas.  Sometimes, like your parents, the two species can interbreed and create a hybrid. 

Color wise, redfish typically have dark red backs with bright white bellies.  Most folks are familiar with the eyespot near a redfish tail.  In terms of size, a three year old red typically weighs 6 to 8 lbs, with the largest fish on record weighing in at a whopping 94lbs.  This record fish was caught at Cape Hatteras, NC back in 1984.  Male redfish are known for their knocking or drumming sound, created by vibrating their swim bladders; hence the name “drum”.

What do redfish eat?  Where to find red drum?

Adult redfish typically eat mullet, shrimp, crabs, spot, pinfish, croaker, and mudminnows.

Redfish are very much a nomadic fish.  They can be found in many types of habitats, including jetties, reefs, wrecks, estuaries, marsh flats, and brackish river waterways.  

Where are redfish hot spots?  Well, most any warmer area on the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico harbors redfish.  Louisiana and the Southeastern US are known for having some of the best places to catch redfish in the United States.

How to catch redfish?  Red drum fishing tackle.  Redfish rod and reel.

Redfish can be caught in abundance both in the surf, and inshore.  With this in mind, your rod/reel choice will change a bit depending upon your target area.  A good starting point for inshore redfish tackle would be a 7' medium heavy/fast action rod with a 2500-3000 size spinning reel, spooled with 10-15lb braid.  If you're surf fishing for redfish, you'll want to start with a 10'6"-12' medium/medium heavy fast action rod that has a load limit of at least 4-6oz, ideally closer to 10oz.  A casting rod will be the best option as you can cast further, but spinning rods work fine as well.

One of the primary redfish rigs is the "Lupton rig", which is a shortened Carolina rig, popular on the Pamlico Sound of North Carolina.  This rig is best for dead, cut, or live bait.  There are many different variations of this rig.

In terms of artificial bait, there are tons of options.  You can find success with soft plastics, metal jigs, ned rigs, jerkbaits, twitch baits, spinners, chatterbaits, spoons, and other topwater baits.  Seriously, there are more lures for redfish than can be counted.

Regardless of how you fish for redfish, be sure to go out with quality terminal tackle and inspect your gear to ensure you get the best results.