This is one of my favorite months for Red Drum. I call it The Hunt For Red October! Red Drum are also called redfish, spottail, or channel bass. Red drum are named after the drumming sound they make when taken out of the water and during breeding. They have broad heads and stout bronze/ red colored bodies normally with a black spot right before their tail fin starts. You can find them just about anywhere inshore and offshore in our region. The bag limit for our region is one fish per angler 18-27 inches.
This time of year, huge schools of bull redfish are here and on the prowl for their next meal. The majority of these fish will be over slot but are very fun to pursue . Some of the newer schools that are coming in from offshore will be a washed out lighter grey color and the schools that have been here for a little bit will be a beautiful bronze color. When you see a large school of these fish coming at you, it will literally turn the water a bronze reddish color. A lot of the bigger fish in the upper 30’s – upper 40’s might look a little beat up from spawning. Be careful to release them because these are our big breeders.
Right now I am targeting them on the grass flats. On the higher stages of the tide in the mornings and afternoons, look for huge pushes (wakes) as they will cruise around in the 2-3 ft. depth range. Then concentrate on them in the 4-6 ft. depth as the sun comes up or the tides go out. Also look for them staging in large potholes. The biggest thing is once you’ve found them, try to be very stealth! They can feel and see you coming from pretty far away and once they know you are there, fishing for them can become very frustrating.
Baits that I like to use to target these schooling fish… First thing in the morning throw a top-water plug like Yo-Zuri’s 3DB Pencil. Make long cast out in front of the school, wait to work it until they get close enough to see it. Their mouth is on the bottom of their head, so they have to really commit. Watching them hit a bait on top of the water can be an incredible sight! Then as the sun comes up, I start throwing soft plastics like the Monster 3X shrimp or the paddle-X. There are lots of weeds out there this time of year so be sure to rig them weed-less. Last but definitely not least would be your favorite suspension bait like a Mirrodine. Of coarse live or cut bait works great as well. Some days these fish will be feeding like Piranhas, eating anything you throw in front of them and some days they can be quite finicky. Regardless, it is an amazing sight to see a school of reds the size of a football field coming at you!