echnically there is no season on Redfish here in Tampa Bay. We refer to the late summer and early fall as “season” because the fish are schooled up for the spawn. These schools can number anywhere between 30 fish to over 300. The days when they number in the hundreds are amazing. It’s just an amazing sight to see. As a captain, I enjoy just watching a school that size swim by in 20 inches of water.
Just because hundreds of big hungry Redfish are swimming around the boat doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to have the day of your life catching them. Tide and moon phase play the biggest role in their appetite. They will tend to feed most aggressively on the strongest tides around the new and full moon (no surprises there). When they are active they can be caught with artificials and even top-water plugs. Surface strikes by big bull reds in shallow water will take your breath away. Their blunt heads push so much water before the strike that it sometimes makes for a challenge for the fish to eat! By contrast there will be days where they will run from such presentations. During those off peak times 2 techniques seem to work best. One is live chumming with sardines to trigger feeding. The other is to use a dead bait like blue crab to entice the otherwise finicky fish.
The Redfish Reward
So why do we love this fish and this season so much? Number one is the fight. On the shallow water flats, our average Tampa Bay Redfish is around 28 inches long and about 7 to 8 pounds. However, many fish will be twice that big. Fish this size put up an awesome fight on light spinning tackle. It is also possible to catch them on fly, and equally exciting endeavor that works even better than live bait on certain days.