Whether you call them red drum fish, redfish, puppy drum, or spot-tail bass, red drum fish are a common species that are found inshore around the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic coasts.
For those who aren’t as familiar with this species, there are some key characteristics to spot a redfish. Reds are dark red on the back, and the red color fades to white on its belly. The most unique mark on the fish is a large black spot on the top area of the tail. Some reds may have multiple spots, but it is very rare to find a red with no spots at all. As reds get older, they tend to lose the extra spotting. Scientists think that the spot may be an evolutionary advantage for these fish, tricking prey to attack the tail instead of the head, giving the red an opportunity to make an escape.
During summer and autumn, these fish like to eat mullet, crabs, and shrimp. In the spring and winter months, reds mainly eat mullet, mud minnows, menhaden, lizardfish, sea robin, spot, pinfish, and Atlantic croaker. These are the best live bait to use when fishing for reds. However, live bait is not required. Soft plastic baits, diving crank baits, bucktail jigs, weed-less spoons, and suspending hard plastic lures are also helpful.
Below, we will showcase 6 great places to fish if you’re looking for reds.
Eastern Pamlico River, North Carolina
In Eastern Pamlico River, NC, the reds begin to appear in early July for mating season and tend to stay until late September or early October.
Lower Neuse, North Carolina
The season for snagging reds from Lower Neuse, NC is also early July to early October, although the waters in this area aren’t as still as the Pamlico. However, it is not uncommon to encounter schools of 500 to 1000 reds in this area on a calm day.
Sabine Pass, Texas
Reds can be found 12 months out of the year in this region. However, the most popular time is from September to early November. You can catch dozens a day during this time with live bait such as croaker, carb, and mullet.
Surfside Beach, Texas
The seasonality of reds in Surfside Beach, TX is August through November. While the low season is January to July and December, there is no closed season, and reds can be caught at any time.
Mosquito Lagoon, Florida
The best time to fish for reds in Mosquito Lagoon is at the end of August and late September. During these times, there’s a good chance of catching monster red drum fish up to 50 pounds.
Indian River Lagoon, Florida
Historically good months for reds are January and February for Indian River Lagoon, as bigger schools of them can be expected at this time. Live bait works best, like shrimp and mullet, for example.
Reds are a fun fish to catch and are wonderful to eat. Every fisherman should experience catching one of these incredible fish. If you don’t live close to any of these areas, book a trip today!