Now that fall’s here, the waters along our Big Bend and Natural North Florida shorelines have begun to clear. This past summer’s excessive rainfall kept our waters murky for months, but it’s now dry and the runoff from our swamps and creeks has slowed (Of course, runoff of water isn’t really a problem in our area– we don’t have problems like golf course runoff of phosphates and fertilizers that the more urban areas of the state have!). Fall also means that the waters cool into the ’50s and ’60s, setting off the natural instincts of redfish (red drum) and starting their spawning cycle. As these fish reach maturity (at about 28 to 30-inches) they gather (in schools) along our shallow coastline, eating heartily and preparing for their trip into the depths of the Gulf of Mexico, where they continue their growth into large spawning versions of what we see close to shore. Offshore, in the greater depths of the Gulf, specimens to 60-inches have been caught by anglers targeting reef species such as grouper and snapper.
As the afternoon sun warms close-to-shore rock and shell bars, bait fish like mullet and pinfish will follow the warmth and soon be followed by reds, hoping to take advantage of these baits which are high in oil content. If your boat (or kayak, or feet) can get you close to shore, this is where you’ll have the best chance of hooking up. Once you’re there, all you need is light spinning tackle, rigged with a D.O.A. shrimp, a Paul Brown Original Corky Devil, or a Eppinger Rex spoon, to hook one up. Of course, if you enjoy fishing live baits, pinfish, finger mullet, mud minnows or shrimp work fine, too.
Redfish are not limited to just our area of the state of Florida, but we have a huge expanse of undeveloped shoreline that attracts these fish in great numbers. No people generally equals more redfish!