The Secrets to Summer Redfish Success

It's hard to rival the sight of tailing redfish as they push through the grass flats on a summer morning in South Florida… unless you count the experience of sight casting to a large school and then bringing one of these copper-colored beauties to the boat. Redfish (also known as red drum) are a popular saltwater sport species known for strong fights and powerful runs.

Below are a few secrets to note when targeting summer redfish.

  1. Keep a sharp eye out for water movement. Pushing water or breaks on the surface can be a sign of schooling or tailing fish. When redfish are tailing on the flats, this means that the fish are feeding with tails up and heads down towards the bottom as they search for crabs, shrimp or minnows. You'll know you've come across a redfish if you see the signature ringed spot or spots near the base of the tail fin.

  2. The best time to fish tends to be on an incoming tide in the early morning or late evening before the air and water temperatures heat up.

  3. Look for mullet. Redfish will often follow schools of mullet as they sift through the turtle grass beds. As the mullet stir up and feed off of vegetation on the flats, they also stir up shrimp, crabs, and small baitfish that redfish like to feed on.

  4. Fish topwater "walk-the-dog" lures, soft-plastic shrimp or spinnerbaits with a Colorado blade. You can even use a larger freshwater spinnerbait for redfish by simply removing the skirt and replacing it with a soft plastic paddle tail.

  5. Have an extra rod rigged with a live shrimp and a popping cork. Rig the line so that the leader is just long enough to position the shrimp above the seagrass. Cast the extra rod out towards the school after the first fish has been hooked, and you may be lucky enough to experience a double hook up.

Aside from being a fun species to fight, redfish also make very good table fare. Just be sure to check and abide by the fishing regulations specific to the state and area you are fishing. For example, in South Florida, there is a daily bag limit of one fish per person per day and redfish must be between 18 and 27 inches to keep.

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Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.