If you’re an avid angler living in a Southern state like Texas, Louisiana, or South Carolina, you’ve probably caught your share of redfish. Also known as red drum, channel bass, or simply “reds,” redfish are an inshore species indigenous to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. As a popular coastal game fish, redfish frequently inhabit bays and estuaries from the Chesapeake Bay all the way down to Texas.
If you’ve never fished for reds before, live baits like mullet, mud minnows, and croakers are the top presentation. However, at certain times of the year you’ll have just as much luck redfishing with artificial baits. If your goal is to catch big redfish in Texas, these lures should put more trophy-worthy catches in your boat.
As fellow members of the drum family, redfish and speckled trout have a lot in common. Both species school, spawn en masse, and share the same ability to withstand varying salinities- although redfish do so much better than their trout cousins. Redfish possess thicker gill plates than do other game fish, which allows them to adjust quickly to, and thrive in, different environmental conditions.
Fully-grown adult red males, or bulls, can reach 30 inches in length and 15 lbs. or more, making them an “adrenaline rush on a hook” for even the most seasoned anglers. As a highly adaptable fish red drums aren’t very picky when it comes to structure, water depth, or clarity. Redfish of all sizes frequently inhabit brackish marshes, creeks, mangroves, oyster beds, passes, beaches, and grass flats.
Due to their mild, sweet flavor, redfish under 15 lbs. are good to eat. However, because they live in the ocean, red drums may contain parasites and must be cooked thoroughly.
Redfishing Tips & Techniques
The best part of fishing for red drums is that you can find them just about anywhere. Pick the structure that best fits your favorite style of fishing, or maybe try venturing into new waters that you have never fished before.
Large redfish tend to hang around sudsy jetties while taking advantage of the food supply generated by the tidal flow. And although jetties are some of the best year-round places to cast a line in Texas, they can also be the most dangerous. While fishing the rocks, be sure to minimize your risk by paying close attention to the surroundings.
The best time to catch big bulls near jetties is during the late summer into early fall once they start showing up with some regularity. Redfish numbers increase dramatically through the fall and early winter as they embark on their annual spawning runs.
Drop-offs between eight and 30 feet are great spots to catch big reds, where they like to lie in wait in-order-to ambush unsuspecting baitfish. When fishing near jetties, it’s a good idea to mark the drop-off with a depth finder. Because waves and current can make it hard to see redfish at times along the jetty, try casting out a suspended lure like a spinnerbait, crankbait, or spoon.
Inlets and passes are also popular redfish hangouts. Sometimes you can even locate a huge school of redfish barreling into a pack of helpless mullet by drifting your boat across a clear, shallow flat.
Best Artificial Baits for Red Drums
Redfish will strike just about anything that won’t strike them first, and the bigger the bait, the bigger the redfish. You will need to adjust your bait accordingly depending on depth, clarity, and season. When you aren’t in the mood to mess with live bait, these artificial lures are must-have items in any redfish angler’s tackle box.
While using a cast-and-pop technique combined with a jerk-jerk-jerk retrieve target suspended red drums by fishing these “noisy” subsurface swimbait and jerkbait lures at varying depths in the water table,
- RS Chunky Shad, Mullet Jr, or Castaic Jerky J Swim with an RS Flats Lok Jighead
- Castaic Jerkbait
- Castaic Jerky J or Super Jerky J
- RS XRM Series
When you cast them way out and bring them back in with a medium-fast retrieve, hungry redfish can’t resist the flash and commotion of these reliable spoon lures:
- Castaic Flutter Magic Spoon
- Castaic Slab Spoon
When redfishing in brackish water found in inlets and marshes, or ocean water near jetties or beaches, it’s best to use a high-quality, salt-resistant topwater lure. Casting out these surface saltwater lures and then using a “walk-the-dog” retrieve will induce reaction strike after reaction strike from hungry redfish:
- RS XRT
- RS XRP
- Castaic Popper CP 60/70
- Castaic Topwater CT 105/120