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10 Top Tips For Catching Red Drum

What Are Red Drum?

Red drum are a type of game fish that inhabit the waters between south Massachusetts and the Gulf of Mexico. People often get confused between channel bass, redfish, spottail, red bass and red drum, when in actual fact, they are all the same fish!

They get their most common name, 'red drum' because of the unusual drumming noise that they make when they are spawning (August-October) and also when taken out of water and therefore a little distressed. Bill Waters, 42, from Miami describes the sound of catching a red drum as 'like a long croaking frog.' The great sporting fish are able to make this noise by rubbing their muscles along their air bladder when it's inflated.

There was a period, back in 1988, when red drum was considered 'extremely overfished.' This resulted in some strict guidelines, such as a one fish per person bag limit, as well as several emergency fishing closures, but stocks of red drum are now pleasing to all, especially those that enjoy catching them!

How Big Do They Get?

Certain red drum in Florida have been recorded at lengths of up to 46 inches and at weights of up to 52lbs. There was however one world record red drum, caught in North Carolina waters, which weighed a whopping 94lb 2oz, back in 1984. That would have been one hell of a catch! 


What Do They Look Like?

They have a smooth chin, with no barbels and a bronze/ copper shine to their scales with a light underbelly and red top. They do however often appear lighter when spotted in shallow, clear water. Towards the base of their tail they have at least 1 black spot, but often more. Their jaw is horizontal and the bottom lip and jaw muscles open downwards, making them a great fish to hook well. 


Where Can They Be Found?

Red drum start off their lives usually in rivers, bays and more recently canals. They then head nearer shore or out to sea when they get older.To lacate red fish, you should slowly cruise along the surface and keep vigilant for movement, which is often when they are eating or stalking food and of course, will be the best time to cast. 

What Is The Best Way To Catch Them?

Red drum  put up a great fight, they vary quite considerably in size and weight and they're an all round great fish to catch. We have therefore compiled a list of some of our top tips our users have shared with us, in order to help you catch more red drum and enjoy doing so safely and sustainably...

1) Red drum can put up quite a fight and many anglers have been surprised with how big their catches have been. Our number 1 tip is to use a heavy boat rod, with at least 30 pound test line if you are new to fishing for red drum. Lighter tackle can be used once you are farmiliar with how they fight.

2) Redfish like to ambush their prey and often hide behind rocks or weeds before going for it. Look for changes in the current if you are fishing on the edge of the channel as this will often indicate a red drum is on the bottom and you can cast just 4-5 foot in front of it.

3) In the warmer part of the year, red drum are in pursuit of live prey, but they bite all year round, particularly in the fall. Try your hand at fishing for red drum at some different times of the year, as you might surprise yourself.

4) Live finger mullet can be a great bait for red fish. On top of this, they are easily available, they stay alive for a long time and often resist bait stealing fish.

5) Half a blue crab, sitting at the bottom of the water, on a circle hook is known to be one of the best bait set ups for the bigger red drum.

6) Red drum are one fish commonly known to fight to the death. Hence why we recommend heavier gear for beginners. Be sure to let the fish get it's energy back and get water back through it's gills before releasing it again as they can get very distressed and weak and many die from the long fight and subsequent stress.

7) Be sure to anchor up current from whevere you plan to fish. A good startegy and patience is they key to catching these great fish.

8) Be as quiet as possible when dropping the anchor. Red drum are spooked extremely easily and will often vacate an area quickly if they are being disturbed. Power pole anchors are often used for this very reason.

9) A popular rig for catching red drum is a green or red jig head, tipped with a small price of cut up shrimp. When you're reeling the line in, give a twicth every few seconds which will play the part of an injured shrimp.

10) Red drum have a crush plate at the back of their jaw, meaning they can easily crunch up larger, tougher food such as crab. During spawning months, August to October, their feeding patterns change quite noticebaly and tey are more likely to be caught on larger pieces of bait, such as lady fish.


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photo credit: Tying a fly. ©Will Sweatt/VASG via photopin (license)