How to find redfish spots is a critical skill for gaining success in the marsh. It’s important when specifically targeting them but also when you are not. Remember, it is Plan Redfish that may save your fishing trip when the specks are not biting.
Redfish behave differently from their neighbors in the marsh. Speckled trout are normally caught around tidelines where baitfish stack up. Typically this water is deeper and, while redfish can be found there as well, they tend to congregate in shallower water.
Before we dive into those spots lets take a closer look at the different kinds of redfish and their behavior so we better understand where to find them.
There are three types of redfish: rat reds, slot reds and bull reds.
Rat reds here in Louisiana are under sixteen inches in length. That may seem small to outsiders of our great state, but keep in mind that our wetlands are an excellent nursery due to their enormous size. Rat reds are juveniles and spend their youth on the “inside”, or interior area of the marsh.
Slot redfish are those reds between 16 and 27 inches. Slots vary from state to state on the Gulf Coast, so that is important to pay attention to where ever you are fishing. Slot redfish are also juveniles, so they are mainly found within the interior marsh as well.
When people are fishing in redfish tournaments they are looking for the heaviest slot redfish they can find, as that is generally the rule. Some tournaments are two redfish, others are three. Going after slot reds guarantees that everyone has a fair chance of reaching the target fish and changes the dynamics of the game; you have to be as skilled as possible to land the heaviest redfish without going over the slot size.
Bull reds can be found on the inside but are mostly caught swimming on the outside. They tend to cling to deeper water with moving current and are often found feasting on trout. There are many great baits for bull reds, but one of them is white trout. When I want to target bull reds, I head to “outside” water and look for them there.
Bull redfish are sexually mature and they travel in enormous schools during the summer and fall. They are schooled up because they have been spawning en masse, in a manner similar to speckled trout. In fact, this popular video routinely makes its way around social media, as it aptly demonstrates what this phenomena looks like.
WHERE ARE THE REDFISH?
This article focuses on slot redfish. You can keep more of them, they are good for tournaments and taste better and tend to not stink. Bull reds can be very stinky!
Redfish love shallow water, especially shallow water with cover like aquatic grass. Redfish will generally go as shallow as they can. In some cases it is not uncommon to see them swimming in water so shallow their backs and tails are sticking out.
However, it’s not just any shallow water redfish are attracted to, but shallow water with very specific characteristics. Not all of them are necessary, but here are some we are looking for:
It’s obvious but cannot be overstated. Find. Shallow. Water. This is water from anywhere less than a foot to three feet deep. Otherwise the likelihood of you stumbling across a pile of redfish in water deeper than that is slim to none. Plus, you want to be able to see them and shallow water makes this easy.
You want water that is clean. This does not necessarily mean “stained.” Stained water includes blackwater, or water that looks like tea or root beer. It is still transparent and free of suspended particles and silt. A lot of redfish ponds you encounter will have this kind of water and they thrive in it.
What you don’t want is water that is muddy looking or has a lot of suspended particles. While redfish have thicker gill plates that allow them to endure these conditions much better than trout, they will still seek cleaner water that is easier for them to breathe and feed in. Trout and redfish are looking for the same kind of food to eat and they are both looking ahead and down as they cruise through the water.
Though presence of bait fish is good, if I see a ton of mullet playing tag with each other I generally do not see redfish in great numbers, though I am sure they would love to know the mullet are there.
This is not a prerequisite but certainly something to pay attention to. Generally, if an area in the marsh is broken up then chances are it is shallow and redfish can be caught there. This is usually due to erosion, so if you look at satellite images over a period of time then you can see this phenomena take place.
PRESENCE OF TIDE
I don’t think tide is super important to redfish, but in some areas it can be key. Some ponds have tidelines moving through them. If you don’t understand tidelines or why they are important, then check out Scouting: Locating Tidelines that Hold Fish and Mastering the Tide. Baitfish like shrimp and blue crabs can blow in along those tidelines and compel redfish to stay in the vicinity.
TOOLS FOR LOCATING REDFISH
Our favorite tool for finding good redfish spots is Google Earth. If you have been following the Blog for awhile you know it is our absolute favorite. If you do not have experience using it then it is suggested you download Google Earth to your device (it is free) and begin playing with it. We have an awesome article about creating custom routes and waypoints for your GPS to aid you in your education.
With Google Earth you can peruse the area you want to fish and find bodies of water that are optimal for locating redfish. In fact, some of the characteristics we look for in a great redfish spot can be detected using satellite imagery on Google Earth. Let’s take a look at some of these great, and not so great, redfish spots.
Remember that redfish will go as shallow as they can. Does that mean they will be in ponds located at the extreme edges of navigable water? Example 1 looks like it would be a great area for redfish. In fact, I bet there are some swimming there right now, but only some and by “some” I don’t mean a lot. Aren’t we looking for a lot of redfish?
Redfish won’t be congregating in numbers in a spot like this because water does not readily exchange there. This means that during the summer time water will get so hot it cannot keep dissolved oxygen in it. If these ponds were located closer to a larger body of water like a big channel or lake I would give them the time of day, but since they are not I would not bother with them unless I just had free time and was bored.
I have fished many spots like Example 1 and I may see a redfish or two, but rarely do I see a lot of them.
Redfish love aquatic grass and in this photo we can see a little of it. As the grass grows it will grow so thick it will mat on the surface making it visible on satellite imagery. This is an indicator that redfish may congregate here and this spot is worth checking out.
Aquatic grass will “scrub” water, removing suspended particles and making it clean. On one side of a thick grass mat the water will be clean and on the other side the water will be muddy.
Keep in mind that aquatic grass dies when it gets cold or too salty. Areas influenced by high water from the Mississippi can have lots of aquatic grass and then virtually none later in the year. Factor this in while you are scouting.
This is a great example of land that has eroded away to reveal a shallow pond. This area is great for redfish. It has eroded so much it is hardly recognizable, but you can pair up a trenasse or two to see it is in fact the same area. I like targeting these areas for reds but be warned: they are often ultra shallow.
Remember that redfish love clean water!
Google Earth has a historical time slider that lets you view satellite images from different points in time. Some of these satellite images were taken a few days after a strong cold front blew through, such as October 29th, 2012 in the Biloxi marsh. This is great because we can see where dirty was and where dirty water was not. The darker colored water is clean and good for redfish whereas the lighter color water is actually dirty and bad for redfish. That doesn’t mean redfish won’t be there, I have caught lots of redfish in dirty water. It just means that you have a tool for locating clean water.
It’s probably obvious to you these satellite images are time sensitive, they were taken during conditions that no longer exist. However, they are still useful for the next time those conditions occur and you need to find clean water in that area.
While we can’t see tidelines flowing across this pond (probably because it is not deep enough) I promise the tide moves through here and this is an excellent location to begin looking for reds. I am confident I could go to this spot and catch them here.
This spot is great because it has a deep bayou going into a shallow pond. Even if the water is so low I can’t get into the pond itself, I can still get the boat into the portion where the bayou is and cast into the shallow water.
This area also has broken marsh and lots of shoreline for redfish to patrol along, looking for something to eat.
THERE IS MORE TO HOW TO FIND REDFISH SPOTS
Keep in mind that at the end of the day you “have to go to know.” Many spots I thought would hold huge gangs of redfish turned out to be complete garbage. Other spots that I thought for sure would be dirty and devoid of reds turned out to be great. Things can be weird at times and not make any sense. Just know the marsh is going to give you what she gives you and it is up to you to try.
story courtesy of Capt. Devin /lafishblog.com