How to Catch Redfish
Finding redfish is the key to catching redfish. If you have the best bait in the world and the perfect presentation but without fish, you will catch no fish.
How to catch redfish requires that you understand what redfish are doing and when. The most important thing in redfish fishing is to find fish. Fortunately, redfish are fairly predictable. Think of redfish as young teenagers. They are constantly hungry and don’t want the bully in the neighborhood to eat them.
Bottlenose dolphins are the bully in the neighborhood being the primary predator inshore. Redfish will leave an area when dolphins move in. If you have every seen dolphin herding a school of redfish or sea trout you will understand why redfish run away or hide when they hear dolphins coming. They also are subject to predation from a variety of birds; overhead shadows will make a redfish run. You are the bully too. If you make too loud a noise with your boat or kayak they react the same way by leaving.
During the first 3 years of a redfish’s life, they are only concerned with surviving and eating. Redfish are hungry most of the time until they mature and move offshore. Keeper redfish are usually no more than three years old.
Redfish can tolerate a large range of temperatures from about 50 to 90 degrees but they prefer 70+. Redfish may be present if you find water that is over 70 degrees that has plenty of food and protection from dolphins there.
There are four locations inshore that provide protection and food.
Structures such as docks and bridge abutments allow redfish to have some cover and food. Food is in the form of shrimp, crabs and small fish drifting by. Cover in the form of posts that prevent dolphins from maneuvering as easily.
Mudflats are abundant around Amelia Island. They provide protection due to their relatively shallow water. There are usually many fiddler crabs living in the mud to temp redfish. Another feature of mudflats is that they absorb heat on a sunny day during low tide that warms the water when the tide moves in. Good to know during the colder months.
The third place to fish is oyster beds. Oyster shells provide shelter for many small crab species. They also provided cover because they make it hard and dangerous for dolphins to navigate. At low tide, oyster beds are easy to find.
The easiest site to find is the most difficult to fish, marshes. Marshes provide abundant food. Dolphins are not able to enter the shallow water. But the fish disburse over large areas. Redfish in the marsh are also very high-strung. Almost anything can make them bolt for safety. Cast over their heads creating a shadow and they will leave in a hurry. Make a noise and they will leave. The best way to move about the marsh is to pole your boat or kayak. Unfortunately wading in Amelia Island marshes is not a good idea because the bottom is too soft.
Redfish migrate daily from backwater during high tide to deep pockets during low tide. If the tide is high enough the marshes will be flooding and redfish will enter. Redfish will be on the edges of the marsh if the tide is not high enough to allow access. Drifting and casting to shore is a good strategy. They will be around piers and oyster beds any time there is ample water to allow them access. When the tide falls they will move to deeper pockets. If you can find where they go during low tide you will find that they use the same pockets for weeks, months or years. Another good tactic is to find the migration routes and fish there when the tide is falling or rising.