Ah, Redfish — red drum, channel bass, puppy drum, spottail bass, or simply red, by whatever name you know them, this species has become a sought after game fish for fly anglers in the past few years. Known for that beautiful red hue, the flash of gold in the sunlight, and that telltale black dot, Redfish is a hard fighting fish that can be found tailing the flats like permit as they scrounge the bottom for crabs, shellfish, shrimp, or anything tasty. Scientists believe that the black dot near the tail helps fool would-be predators into thinking it’s an eye and attacking the Redfish in the tail instead of the head, thus helping them getaway. Whatever the reason, Redfish on the fly is great fun. I must confess that I have Redfish fever and if you have the same burning desire to fish reds, and are looking for an excuse to head south as the weather cools, here is a little fuel for your fire.
It’s all about the bulls.
The big boys start showing up in the early fall and increase their numbers through fall and early winter. Of course, fall is beautiful in the Midwest, but beauty is fleeting and the Farmer’s Almanac says it’s going to get cold and be cold for a long time. Prepare for that long, cold winter by heading to the southern coast to store up some good ole vitamin D and catch yourself a big, beautiful boy. That way, when you’re stuck inside under a thick blanket of snow, you can warm yourself up with big red memories.
Sight fishing is the right fishing.
I’m a sucker for sight-fishing on the flats. The second I smell saltwater, I get amped up. For me, it’s a total adrenaline rush to stand on the front of a flats boat, fly in hand, waiting to hear 50-feet, two o’clock! In that second, I forget how to tell time, my heart beats out of my chest, and most of the time I forget how to cast. But that’s all okay, because seeing that big red cruising the flat, or noticing that tail out of the water is good enough for me. Being able to drop my fly out in front and watch them turn and come after it, then hooking up, well there’s not much better in my book.
They fight like Mohammed Ali.
If you like the song that fly line sings to you as it’s ripped off a reel, this red’s for you. Reds can be difficult to figure out — sometimes they’re picky and other times they will eat anything you throw at them. But once they’re hooked, they float like a butterfly and sting like a bee! Unlike their freshwater counterpart the Black Drum, this saltwater cousin has had to fight harder to survive every day in brackish and saltwater, making them much stronger. They are stubborn and will bulldog you, making it difficult to bring them in. If you like to fight a fish that fights back, reds make a great target.
You have options.
Redfish love shallow water, so they’re easy to target. Unlike tarpon who like deeper water, Redfish can be found in channels, on the flats, and out in the open. This means you can target them from a pier, off the beach, or from a boat. Pick your poison. If you like to hire a guide, then there are some really great ones available. But, if you’re a little low on cash, or like to go it alone, you can easily target them as well. Just remember to watch your backcast when fishing from shore or in the urban areas. People also fight hard when hooked, but not in a good way.
If I could fish one type of water it would be salt. When you fish a bass lake you know you’re going to catch bass. When you fish a trout river, well you know you’re going to catch trout. In saltwater, you never know what could be on the end of your line. Sure, you are there to target redfish, but that tug could be just about anything if you didn’t see the take. There are so many hungry fish in the ocean that the possibilities are endless. And, even the smallest fish is in salt is stronger than some of the monsters in fresh. I like a little mystery it keeps things fresh.
In a couple of weeks, Heather Hodson and I are going to head south for the Rip & Hopper’s Redfish Roadie roadtrip. We will be fishing for these beauties throughout Florida and then into Louisiana — New Orleans for Halloween? I think so. We will be having four community events along the way, and bringing many women together to fish these beauties and support local businesses. If you’re near Homosassa, Naples, or Stuart, Florida then come join us. If you’re in NOLA around Halloween, look us up. You know that desire to fish for reds is burning inside you so why not give in and join us? After all, the only way to put out that fire is to douse it with a big bucket of saltwater.
If you can’t make it, but want to follow along, check out our Rip and Hopper’s Adventure Facebook page. In addition, we love these items and will be sporting them along our journey. Check them out and take advantage of the discounts!