Redfishing in Clearwater Fl is the aspiration of many anglers visiting the area! What a wonderful species we have, thriving just a few feet from land. Redfish are strong and can wear out even the most determined angler. Large Redfish will exhibit two, three, and even four reel screaming runs before giving up, using their wide, strong tails to fight. They are by far my favorite fish to target in the local Clearwater area.
Sadly, the over-harvesting of Redfish heavily threatened their population in Florida, causing their numbers to dwindle in the late 80’s. Several issues contributed to their decline such as increased sales of spices used for blackening Redfish, as well as inshore netting of Mullet, Jack Crevalle, and Ladyfish, resulting in a by-catch of Reds. So as a result, in 1994 Florida placed a ban on inshore commercial netting. Since the ban, the Redfish and Trout populations have begun to bounce back tremendously. Also, a swell in the catch and release philosophy, and a bag limit of one Redfish per day has helped to increase the numbers of Redfish in our local Clearwater area.
Redfish live the first three years of their lives in shallow waters, around oyster bars, mangroves, and grassy flats. As they approach maturity around 30-34 inches, they migrate to open waters, where they’ll often reach weights over 50 pounds. These large Redfish called “Bull Reds”, are often caught in the shallow waters during the spawning months, usually around the passes and nearshore artificial reefs lining the coast. Their spawning season begins in August and ends in late October.
Redfish moving in shallow water make large humps on the water’s surface, making them easy to see at low tide. Schools of Redfish will often join schools of mullet to hide from predators like sharks and dolphins. I always scan the horizon in search of the wakes created by Redfish and Mullet. On calm days, we can often spot Reds tailing which occurs when the fish are unaware of their tails being exposed above water while feeding on crustaceans along the shallow sea floor. Floating sardines or pinfish under corks in these schools can be deadly for hooking several Redfish.
As the tide rises, Redfish move into the mangroves and onto oyster bars ambushing baitfish as they swim by. Chumming with dead or live bait is an excellent way to locate them.
Redfish eat a wide variety of bait like sardines, threadfins, shrimp, tiny crabs and other crustaceans. Redfish will often have small pinfish and snails in their bellies as well. Many anglers also use artificial baits like gold spoons, topwater plugs, and jerkbaits to target Reds on the flats.
The fight in a Redfish is very hard to top. Please, book a charter now for Redfishing Clearwater Fl and experience the thrill of the fight for yourself. Be sure to visit the Photo Gallery to see pictures of a few happy customers with these beautiful fish.
Cooler weather is creeping in and the days are getting shorter. Fall is near and the fishing is exploding in north Pinellas. Bait has invaded the beaches, gathering by the millions in the troughs along the shore. Pelicans and other shore birds are dipping and diving in the morning, indicating the location of the thickest schools of baitfish. Filling the well is easy as long as the winds are light. Most gamefish are responding to the sardines, also called ‘greenbacks’ or ‘whitebait’, since it is so plentiful everywhere. Nearshore mackerel are hitting within 3 miles, often following the hordes of bait moving with the tides. Large jack crevalle are marauding the jetties and passes, chasing anything that moves.
The most exciting fish this time of year for inshore anglers is redfish. They begin to school on the flats, foraging on incoming and outgoing tides, often grouping just off of the mangrove shoreline. Lowtides allow them to be easily detected, pushing water as they move around. As the tides get higher, I target oyster bars and tidal creeks, chumming heavily to get the fish interested. Once a fish is hooked, I’ll anchor and cast baits in the location of the hooked fish. Many times the school is nearby and curious enough to occasionally have a fish or two follow the fighting redfish to the boat. Chumming will usually keep them close by. As the bite slows, move slightly in the direction of the tide. Redfish will normally move only a few yards once irritated by the commotion of casting and landing fish.