Capt. Ethan Hamrick
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How to Catch Redfish: A Complete Guide

Redfish, also known as red drum, are one of the most popular, sought after inshore gamefish. They inhabit the waters along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coastlines. They can be caught in many different areas on a variety of baits and lures. Anglers have many options when targeting redfish.

Whether using live bait, cut bait, or artificial lures, catching these hard fighting fish is a blast. Today we’ll talking about a few of the most effective ways to go about targeting redfish that will hopefully help you catch a few more during your future outings!

Where to Target Redfish


Redfish spend much of their time roaming the shallows in search of their next meal. They feed on small baitfish, crabs, shrimp, and other crustaceans. They like being around some type of structure or cover because it not only provides food, but also protection from predators, such as bottlenose dolphins.

Some of the best places to consistently catch redfish include:

  • Oyster bars
  • Grass flats
  • Mangroves
  • Boat Docks
  • Rocks/Jetties
  • Inlets/Passes

Having at least one of these structures nearby is important. But when anglers can find an spot with two or more of these structures in the same area, that’s when the fishing can be really good.

For instance, a grass flat with boat docks and an oyster bar close by is an excellent place to try because it gives fish options as the tide fluctuates and as conditions change.

Use Google Earth to Find Redfish Spots

These aren’t the spots we’re talking about, but Redfish spots nonetheless!

Satellite imagery is an awesome tool that can help anglers find new spots to fish. Google Earth will show very subtle details, such as potholes and grassbeds in a certain area. This feature is especially helpful when anglers are unfamiliar with an area and need to find the right water to fish quickly. It helps anglers narrow down the best places to target redfish and make the most of their time on the water. 

Live/Cut Bait for Redfish

Many anglers prefer to use live or cut bait when fishing for redfish. Some of the best live bait for redfish includes

  • Pilchards
  • Threadfins
  • Sardines
  • Shrimp
  • Pinfish
  • Mullet
  • Crabs

If live bait isn’t available, any of the live bait listed can be used as cut bait. I typically rig both live and cut bait on a 1/0-2/0 circle hook. If fishing an area with little to no current, I free line the bait. However, if fishing around a lot of current, I rig it up with a 1-2 ounce egg weight to keep the bait in position.

Artificial Lures for Redfish

I personally prefer using artificial lures when targeting redfish, along with various other inshore species. Artificial lures eliminate the need to catch or buy live bait. Some anglers may think they have to use live bait to catch more fish. However, I’ve often seen that artificial baits do just as good if not better than live bait.

Some of the best artificial baits for redfish include:

My favorite way to catch redfish is with a topwater spook style lure.

redfish on topwater lure
Redfish caught on topwater lure

The Heddon Zara Spook is my preferred lure for this technique. The bait is designed to “walk” back and forth across the surface of the water, appearing as an injured, fleeing baitfish. Anglers can experience some amazing surface strikes using this method. Color patterns such as bone, silver, white, and chartreuse are all great when it comes to topwater lures for redfish.

Other artificial lures include the Berkely Gulp Jerk Shad, Berkely Gulp Shrimp and DOA C.A.L series paddletail swimbaits. I like rigging the soft-plastic jerk shad on a 3/0 weight EWG hook and fishing it slow around oyster bars and over grass flats. I rig paddletail swimbaits and swim on a ¼-3/8 ounce DOA red white or chartreuse jighead.

For swimbaits and jerk shads, I prefer colors such as pearl white, sardine, and any other shad or baitfish pattern. When it comes to shrimp, I typically go with natural shrimp colors, such as red, orange, or gray.

I like to use a paddletail swimbait when I’m trying to locate fish and need to cover a lot of water. Once I find an area with fish, I’ll often pick up a jerk shad or shrimp to slow down and work the spot more thoroughly.

Best Gear for Redfishing

Anglers have an endless amount of options when it comes to selecting tackle for catching redfish. If I’m fishing around areas with little current, I prefer a 7’ medium heavy spinning rod paired to a 4000 sized reel. I’ll spool it with 20-30-pound braided line and tie a 20-35 pound fluorocarbon leader to my mainline braid.

I vary the size of my leader depending on what type of cover I’m fishing around. If I’m fishing in a flat in open water, I’ll go with a lighter leader, but if I’m fishing boat docks or pitching my bait tight to mangroves, I always go with a heavier leader.

If fishing in an inlet or around a jetty, I’ll go to a slightly larger setup. I prefer a 7’6” medium heavy action rod paired to a 5000 sized reel. I spool that reel with 30-40 pound braided line and use a 30-50 pound leader in this situation.

Back to You

Thank you so much for reading about some of the best ways I’ve found to catch more redfish. I hope you found this information helpful and can use some of these tips if you’re ever inshore fishing and want to target redfish. If you’ve never targeted redfish before, I highly recommend giving it a try. They are a very fun fish to target and certainly one of my favorite to catch.

It doesn’t matter if you’re simply a bank or wade fisherman, kayak or paddleboard angler, or run a flats or bay boat. All anglers can find areas to enjoy catching redfish.

Remember, use google earth to narrow down and find the best spots in your area. Experiment with different baits and lures until you find what works best for you and you’re bound to land a few more redfish on your next outing!

As always, happy fishing and keep your hooks wet!


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