The most common method of finding redfish is using shallow running boats, kayaks or wading in the shallow waters of the bays. Redfish will roam grass lined shores, deep cuts, flats, and reefs looking for prey. During calm days, angler’s searching for redfish will cruise along shallow waters and look for schools of baitfish such as mullet that are swirling and jumping in an agitated state. Casting just past these flurries of bait fish and working lures or bait back into them will often reveal redfish working the area.
Redfish prefer water that is 1 to 4 feet deep. They will be found in a variety of habitats, but generally prefer some vegetation and a soft mud bottom. They also tend to gravitate to oyster reefs and cuts or breaks in shorelines or other significant breaks in the surrounding structure.
Large redfish will often move into water so shallow it doesn’t seem possible that they are capable of being there. They will work through cuts or across flats to push bait fish up to the edge of the shore where the prey runs out of water and the redfish will attack. It is not unusual to see redfish so shallow that their tails and backs are breaking through the top of the water. It is a real thrill to see “tailing” redfish in water just a few inches deep.
Redfish will also congregate in deep cuts that lead back into tidal lakes and grass salt flats. As tides change, they will lie in wait for shrimp, crabs and small bait fish being carried in and out of the grasses and shallow areas by the moving water.
In large grass flats, anglers will drift, propel through with an electric trolling motor, kayak or wade across the flats targeting the sandy or muddy potholes located throughout the grassy areas and the deeper cuts that lead into the flats. The pot holes will often hold several redfish as they lay in the deeper holes with the grass edges a camouflage to ambush bait that lives in the grass.
During the late summer and early fall, the “redfish rodeo” begins. This is the time of year that the redfish begin to congregate on the large flats that are near deep water passes that lead to the Gulf of Mexico as they prepare for the fall run to the deep water. Guides and avid anglers will be seen with trolling motors down following large schools of redfish as they wander around the flats gorging on prey while they prepare for the spawn