Redfish are caught year around in the Greater Tampa, Florida area. Redfish are caught along shorelines, along shallow edges and deeper troughs at low tide. They are also targeted by sight fishing at low tide as they cruise and feed on shallow flats and channel edges. Reds take a variety of baits as well as jigs, plugs and flies. Redfish are often found in large schools, especially smaller fish in the cool months. Spring and fall are the best times to catch large fish averaging 24 to 34 inches.
Usually bronze or reddish with white underside, but sometimes quite pale all over. Prominent ringed spot or several spots at base of tail fin; occasionally, without the spot. Silhouette is similar to black drum and colors can sometimes be confusing in very large fish, but the redfish has no chin barbels and the black drum never has the tail spot.
SIZE: Caught from less than a pound to 10 or 12 pounds; 30-pounders are not rare, and the potential in Florida is about 60. World record 94 pounds, 2 ounces; Florida record 52 pounds, 5 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Redfish up to around 10 pounds rank among the favorite fish of most anglers. Red portions of flesh do not have objectionable taste when fresh. Large Redfish are protected at this writing, and not the best of fare anyway.
GAME QUALITIES: Fine gamester. Strength, stamina and fairly long, bullish runs are its trademarks.
TACKLE AND BAITS: All kinds of casting tackle, includ- ing fly, are successfully used on Redfish of all sizes. Surf rods and light-to-medium saltwater outfits are good for beach, bridge, pier and offshore fishing. Redfish are ravenous feeders that will take live bait- fish, crabs and shrimp, and also dead or cut baits from the same sources. Live shrimp and minnows make the very best baits for shallow coastal fishing; live Pinfish, small Mullet or similar baitfish for angling in deeper water. Most productive artificials are weedless spoons, plastic-tail jigs and topwater plugs, but many swimming plugs also work. Large streamers and pop- pers do the job for fly fishermen.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing; Drifting; Casting.
RANGE: All Florida coasts.
HABITAT: Most popular fishing areas are along shell bars and rocky or grassy shorelines and on shallow flats, where they are usually fished by sight. Reds also forage in the surf of outside beaches nearly everywhere on the Gulf Coast and along the upper half of the East Coast, especially in the fall. Adults move offshore to spawn and are sometimes encountered in open water in large schools.They roam into coastal rivers and creeks at any time of year, and in winter swarm into them, seek- ing warmer water.