Image casting to a tailing redfish and feeling a subtle take and then an explosive drag screaming run. That’s a redfish, also called the Red Drum is a popular North American game fish. You can find it in the Mexican gulf from Northern Mexico to Florida and the Atlantic Ocean from Florida to Massachusetts.
Redfish is the only member of the Sciaenops genus. The redfish are closely related to the black drum, and you can always find them close to each other.
The redfish is a powerful fighter and aggressive feeder; therefore, you should be ready for a serious fight. But with the redfish being quite popular, some state governments have regulated the number of redfish anyone can catch at any given time.
According to the IGFA, the all-tackle world record fish was caught by David Deuel in 1984. Deuel caught the biggest redfish in Avon, North Carolina, and it weighed 94 pounds 2 ounces. Deuel has held the record for the biggest red drum ever caught for almost 4 decades.
The redfish is a fast-growing species that can attain a length of about 11 inches and weigh a pound within the first year of its life. And within three years, it can exceed a weight of 6 pounds and a maximum length of about 24 inches.
The most distinguishing feature of redfish is the huge black spot on the top side of its tail’s base. But having many black spots is not rare among redfish; after all, a spotless red drum is rare.
Redfish naturally cruise along the Gulf of Mexico and the southern and eastern Atlantic Coast. The redfish is a highly prized catch in the Mexican Gulf. Bull and young mature redfish inhabit the rocky outcroppings like jetties. On the other hand, juvenile redfish inhabit the grassy marsh regions of estuaries and bays. (source)
Guide Tip: If hooking into monster redfish is the next fish on your bucket list check out my good friends Kevin Morlock and Steve Martinez with Indigo Guide Service. They target huge bull redfish along the Louisiana Gulf Coast. Kevin and Steve provided the monster redfish pictures in this article.
The most reliable method for determining the age of all fish, including the redfish, is counting scalar rings. After all, every fish has scales. Each has several annular rings representing the number of years the redfish have been alive. Plus, the older it gets, the heavier and longer the redfish becomes.
|Age of Redfish
|Length of Redfish
|Average Weight of Redfish
|22.9 cm / 0-11in
|0.5kg / 1.0 pounds
|43.2 – 55.9 cm / 17 – 22in
|1.6kg / 3.5 pounds
|55.9 – 61 cm / 22 – 24in
|3 (2.7 – 3.6 kg/ /6 – 8 pounds)
North Carolina has 19 of the first 25 records listed for red drum. The inner costal shores along the outer banks are a perfect habitat for these trophies.
Avon North Carolina has a couple records (including the biggest) but Ocracoke Island is a “HOT BED” of monster redfish. The small community is located east of the Pamlico River, the island protects Pamlico Sound. Both of these spots are within 40 miles of each other.
If chasing monster reds is what your looking for concentrate on Ocracoke. Spring time is bestas the fish are making their annual migration moving and feeding at the inlets.
The Chesapeake Bay is the biggest American estuary separated from the Atlantic Ocean by Delmarva, with its mouth situated between Cape Charles and Cape Henry.
The Chesapeake Bay resides in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. In fact, over 150 significant rivers from two states flow into the Chesapeake Bay. (source)
The Adult redfish can be found near Chesapeake Bay’s mouth throughout the fishing season, while you can find young reds further up the bay. You can find adult reds in the middle part of the bay for a short period in mid-summer.
The best fishing period for redfish runs from April to November. Some anglers look for the reds along the shoals next to the bay’s mouth.
The weights of fly rods for catching redfish are 8-wt and 9-wt, paired with a reliable reel.
Gulf Of Mexico
The red drum is known as the highly prized gamefish of the Mexican Gulf. The Mexican Gulf is the marginal sea and ocean basin of the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by North America. In fact, the northern and northwestern parts of the Gulf of Mexico are surrounded by the United States. The Gulf of Mexico is an exceptional fishing destination with some of the best spots, including the Barrier Islands, the Ten Thousand Islands, Galveston Bay, and Mobile Bay. (source)
The most popular fishing method in the region is sight fishing paired with light tackles, so make sure you come equipped with the right fly fishing gear. If you’re looking for enormous red drums, the best time to fish is between late summer and early fall. The best fly rod weight for catching red drums is 8wt or 9wt, 9-foot fly rod coupled with the saltwater reel.
Mosquito Lagoon, Florida
The Gulf of Mexico is an exceptional redfish destination that never disappoints. It’s no surprise why some of the water bodies in the Gulf States, like Mosquito Lagoon, can be an excellent spot for catching huge red drums. Situated in Volusia and Brevard counties in Florida, Mosquito Lagoon is part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and Indian River Lagoon. (6)
Guide Recommended: The Mosquito Lagoon area has so much to offer. Fishing, manatee watching and if you time it right you could watch a rocket launch. Here’s a link to the area – Mosquito Lagoon Florida
The Mosquito Lagoon is considered the world’s redfish capital and not because of the enormous red drums that you can find there, but because you can fish all year long.
The Mosquito Lagoon is the only place on the planet where you can stalk and sight-cast 30 to 50 inches long redfish. But the fishing techniques and conditions vary with season, so make sure you carry a reliable 9-wt fly rod for the trip. (source)
Big Redfish in The News
In 2021, Jack Limroth caught the longest redfish ever, which threatens the record for the longest red drum ever caught. Limroth even submitted his huge 127cm long red drum to IGFA to challenge the current all tackle length red drum record. Limroth fought the redfish for over 15 minutes before overpowering it and reeling it in. Link to IGFA
Many news networks captured the news, and you can find out more about this record catch by visiting the following link: https://www.pilotonline.com/sports/outdoors/vp-sp-red-drum-0611-20210610-camaij43fjen5jzwpj6frzp7bm-story.html.
Techniques For Finding the Monster Redfish (Red Drum) Close to Home
If you live in a state near or one of the Gulf States and believe that there are some redfish near your home, then you can visit the town’s natural resources department’s site or offices. But if you live near the Gulf of Mexico, you may have to depend on landlocked redfish introduced in some local ponds.
Tips For Catching Big Redfish On A Fly Rod
When searching for red drums on your fly rod, you should always carry the right weight fly rod. An eight wt or nine wt fly rod can provide you with the needed power and weight to fight this aggressive prized fish. A 9 wt fly rod like Sage Payload 989-4 can guarantee you a comfortable and decisive casting action. This fly rod can let you cast giant flies and heavy lines.
You can pair it with a reliable reel like the Sage Spectrum Max fly reel with an SCS (Sealed Carbon System) drag that keeps water, salt, and grit out. An Amplitude Grand Slam fly line can help you fight a massive redfish with an accurate cast.
Redfish are perfect for saltwater beginners, but this doesn’t mean that you should take it easy on this fish. After all, a massive red drum can be very aggressive, so make sure you have reliable gear and avoid producing unnecessary vibrations.
This fish species can feel any vibration from the boat, so I always keep everything silent and cast my line and stay still until the redfish bites.
Since delivering my fly to the right spot can be challenging at times, I always prep before making “THE” cast. This means warming up your arm and working with whomever is guiding to understand how far you can cast accurately.
Redfish feed on crabs, shrimps, and baitfish, among other saltwater creatures, so you can fool them with a wide range of patterns. So here are some of my best flies when redfish fishing:
The redfish scampi is the result of successful fishing with Bonefish Scampi. This fly was created in the Gulf States and tested at the Ten Thousand Islands. Remember, this fly can fool all the fish that feed on shrimp. Here is why it stands out:
- It’s tied using two colors which can come in handy when fishing in tannic or clean water. I’ve had the best luck with bright colors.
- It’s available in a wide range of sizes, I recommend size 2.
- Reds will do everything from tailing in shallows to cruising deep. Be prepared to be flexible in your fly selection. (source)
Another reliable fly that always features in my arsenal is the Clouser Minnow. This fly can work with a wide range of fish species. It stands out because:
- It’s available in a wide range of colors
- It’s available in a wide range of sizes
- This fly comes with an exceptional sinking rate for any depth you prefer. (source)
Red drums are tough to attract, but if you can get them swimming on the upper column, you can catch them using a micro popper. Luckily the reds love exploring the top water column. Tequila popper can work with other fish also, and here is why:
- Available in a wide range of colors
- They can easily attract redfish
- It can also work with different depths (source)
Guide Recommendation: The guys at Indigo Guide Service make a living putting fish in the net. Steelhead, Redfish, Brown Trout and HUGE Carp. Here’s a LINK to Indigo Guide Service
Get Out There and Catch the Biggest Redfish
Just like most prized gamefish, the redfish is a very aggressive fish, so you should be ready for a fight. But just hooking one of these huge fish will keep you coming for several years to come.
So do yourself a favor and make sure you’re always equipped and ready to deal with a huge redfish. You never know; today may be the day you finally reel in a world record redfish.
Tarpon, Redfish and Snook
True trophy fish can mean being in the right place, with the right flies, setup for success. Below are some articles to guide you to a TROPHY
- Snook, Reds and Tarpon can be found all over Florida. Read where to go in this article > Where to Fly Fish in Florida
- How big do Tarpon, Redfish and Snook get? Read about the BIGGEST Caught > TARPON , REDFISH and SNOOK
- Casting a Fly to Snook is amazing. Read about How to Fly Fish for Snook and the Best Flies for Snook
- Both Tarpon and Redfish can haunt the same waters. It’s just a matter of selecting the right flies. Check out The Best Flies for Redfish
- Wikipedia contributors, Red Drum, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_drum#Reproduction_and_growth/Accessed February 25, 2022
- Wikipedia contributors, Chesapeake Bay, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chesapeake_Bay/ Accessed February 25, 2022
- Wikipedia contributors, Taranaki, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taranaki/ Accessed February 25, 2022
- Wikipedia contributors, Gulf of Mexico, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_of_Mexico/ Accessed February 25, 2022
- Wikipedia contributor, Mosquito Lagoon, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosquito_Lagoon/ Accessed February 25, 2022
- Amazon contributors, sage fly fishing spectrum reel, https://www.amazon.com/Sage-Fly-Fishing-Spectrum-Reel/dp/B07FZ42DGL/ Accessed February 25, 2022
- Umpqua contributors, redfish scampi, https://www.umpqua.com/redfish-scampi/ Accessed February 25, 2022
- Umpqua contributors, clouser minnow https://www.umpqua.com/clouser-minnow/ Accessed February 25, 2022
- Umpqua contributors/ bass popper, https://www.umpqua.com/bass-popper/ Accessed February 25, 2022