Sciaenops ocellatus Photo Claire Sunquist ©
Red Drum - usually called Redfish, is the most popular game species in Florida and one of the most beautiful fish you will ever see. Their thick scaly armor is reddish bronze and they have a spot at the base of their tail. Red Drum get the second half of their name from the deep drumming noise they make when they are caught.
If you are fishing within sight of land, in the shallow flats and oyster bars around Florida, you are probably in redfish territory. Florida juvenile redfish (under 34 inches) are found in shallower waters and are often spotted “tailing” when their tails come out of the water as they feed on the bottom. These fish can be very wary of fishermen and will spook easily, especially in clear water. When pursuing redfish in shallow areas, fishermen often pole their boats so that they don’t have to use their motors. Larger breeding redfish are usually found in much deeper waters.
Red Drum will eat shrimp, crabs, mollusks, and smaller fish (especially mullet) and often follow the tides into shallow areas, feeding right at the edges of the grass. Many fishermen swear that bait with gold flecks or gold spoons are the best way to catch these fish, but they will bite on just about anything. Once you hook a redfish, hold on!- they put up an amazing fight for their size. Their meat is delicious and can be grilled like salmon with the skin on.
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