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  • Writer's pictureCapt. Memphis Zachry

Florida Red Fish: Gulf Coast

Man holding up a Florida Redfish he caught in Crystal River.

Florida Red Fish are one of the most exciting species to fish for here in Florida and are mainly targeted on the Gulf Coast from the pan handle all the way down to the Florida Keys. People come from all over to get a chance at catching one of these amazing fish. They fight extremely hard and can be fished for in many different ways. Also, Red Fish can be targeted in many different areas up and down the Gulf Coast of Florida. Florida offers some of the best fishing in the entire United States and the Florida Red Fish are one of the species that make it the fishing capitol of the world!

Florida Red Fish regulation

Red Fish are one of the many regulated fish species that call Florida home. Their population is extremely healthy because of strict rules and regulations set by the Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission. These rules are important to know when planning to fish for the Florida Red Fish.

Red Fish limit in Florida

From the pan handle down to Fred Howard Park in Pinellas County: 1 fish per person, 4 fish per vessel per day.

South of Fred Howard park: 1 fish per person, 2 fish per vessel per day.

Size limit

For the entire State Of Florida: No less than 18" and no more than 27" total length.

Large Florida Redfish

How to catch Florida Red Fish

Red Fish are aggressive feeders, and will eat just about anything that is thrown their way. Shrimp, Crab, Pinfish and cut bait just to name a few. They often feed on the bottom, but will also eat live bait and top water bait on the surface. When fishing for Red Fish on the bottom, cut Mullet and Ladyfish work fantastic. When fishing in the water column or on the surface, a wide variety of baits will work including live pinfish, jerk baits and "walk the dog" style top water lures.

Best time of year to catch Red Fish

In Florida, Red Fish can be caught year round but are fished for differently depending on the time of year. In the summer months Red fish move to deeper and cooler water and can be caught in areas such as deep channels, mangrove islands and fishing piers with strong moving current. In the winter months they move into shallow creeks and grass flats where they can be caught more easily using artificial baits. The Florida Red Fish spawn starts in September and runs through November. This is when large numbers of Red Fish migrate from the Gulf Of Mexico to the the shallow flats up and down Florida's coast to spawn and feed making them an easy target for anglers.

Recommended equipment

When it comes to your rod and reel setup, between a 7.5 and 8 foot medium heavy rod paired with a 2500 to 3000 reel will work best. For line use 10 to 15 pound braid and 15 to 25 pound fluorocarbon leader depending on the water clarity. If you are casting artificial lures, opt for #10 braid and #15 fluorocarbon leader for the best results.

A slot sized Florida Redfish that was caught in Crystal River Florida

Florida Red Fish Facts

Red Fish are in the Drum family and are most commonly recognized by their goldish red color and dark black spot at the end of their tail. They spend most of their early life in the safety of shallow water and move out to deeper water once they reach sexual maturity. This happens when they reach 27 inches or around 3-4 years old. Red Fish can Grow to over 90 pounds and live over 40 years!

Why do Red Fish have black spots?

This is actually a defense mechanism against predator's, it is thought to mimic an eye so that predator's are more likely to go after the tail than its head!

Are Red Fish good to eat?

Yes! Red Fish have a mild and slightly sweet meat that is good fried, grilled and blackened. Blackened Red Fish being the most popular!

What is the best way to get out and catch Red Fish?

Hire a local fishing guide! This ensures that you will have the best possible experience. With a quick google search you should be able to find a fishing charter in your area. Make sure to read reviews!

Planning a fishing trip in Crystal River, FL?

If so make sure and book a fishing charter with Fish Crystal River! Click the links below to check out our charter options and trip info.

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