tailing in shallow, saltwater flats have to be one of
the most desirable saltwater gamefish. They require
patience, a great understanding of the ecosystem, a
stealthy approach, an accurate presentation, and they
fight like a "poor man's bonefish." The only
problem with redfish is that they taste great. In the
mid-'70s, New Orleans chef and book author Paul Prudhomme
promoted blackened redfish as gourmet fare, and the
resulting demand caused a commercial fishing frenzy
that nearly eradicated the species from many areas.
It took massive changes in many state fishing regulations,
and the participation of sportsfishermen (who became
catch-and-release fishermen) to save the species from
exctinction and bring redfish back to their current
levels of abundance. Today redfish are found in the
Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico from New Jersey to
Mexico, and everywhere in between. The best places to
fly fish for them are over shallow flats with sandy
or muddy bottoms. They are most commonly found in inlets,
channels, and estuaries with brackish water, but can
tolerate both salt and fresh water.
can find redfish flats in Florida (both coasts),
Texas, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and
most other southern states with ocean frontage.
Most redfish weigh between 5 and 15 pounds, but
the chance at a real honker is a very real possibility.
Redfish run up to 75 pounds or more, and most
saltwater fly rods records are over 30 pounds.
While these records are interesting from the perspective
the species, the important thing you need to know
is that a ten-pound redfish on a fly rod will
provide all the excitement you need, and then
some. Redfish don't jump, but they make long powerful
runs. An elongated fish with a square tail, the
redfish's general coloration is coppery or bronze
on the back, darker in color than the sides, with
a general silver or grey color behind the darker
hues. The belly is white.The snout of the fish
is slightly rounded, with the upper jaw protruding
a little beyond the lower one. There's a large
black "eye spot" just in front of the
tail. Occasionally, there will be two or more
spots, but most fish will have the single spot
that provides the simplest, most immediate means
of identifying a redfish
. Like many saltwater species, it has two anal spines
that can cause injury to gloveless hands. Be careful.
The almost universally accepted common name for Sciaenops
ocellatus from Florida to Texas is "redfish,"
but there are many, many other terms used to describe
the species across the country. In Georgia and South
Carolina they are sometimes called "spot-tails"
or "spot-tailed bass" to get. A few "bull
drum" are also found in the region. In North Carolina
the official state fish is the "channel bass."
Redfish can have different names at various stages of
their development. Those less than ten pounds are sometimes
called "puppy drum." From 10 to 30 pounds
they are "yearlings," and only after they
reach the 30 pounds or more can they be called "red
drum" or "drum." Some peopel even refer
to them as "poor man's bonefish." The preferred
method of fishing is to take a boat to a warm water
tidal flat, sight the fish 'tailing' , anchor up, get
out, wade to within casting distance, and drop a fly
in front of the feeding school. The fly pattern is generally
a crustacean imitation or a minnow/streamer pattern.
When they're feeding, redfish root on the bottom trying
to turn over feed. This creates the murky water that
benefits flyfishers. The fish are often so intense with
what they're doing that they don't spook at the drop
of the fly. Some anglers swear that making the fly plop
loudly actually attracts the fish.