Redfish Reasoning

By Capt. Judy Helmey

It’s trophy redfish time here on the Georgia coast. November brings great water temps, and it brings and holds the big reds in our area. Now… you can’t keep these redfish longer than 23 inches, but you can catch, take a picture, and then release them.

A trophy red loves to fill up on anything it can fit in its mouth this time of year. After doing so around the sound, they push offshore to areas where more feeding potential can be found. After many years of hearing fishers talk about the whims of all sizes of redfish I, Capt. Judy, after more years than I want to admit, have come up with what I think is pretty good red fish feeding reasoning.

It goes something like this… all redfish love to eat the contents of what comes wrapped in a shell. This belief is backed up by the incredible crushing teeth located in the redfish’s mouth. It is my opinion that when a redfish sucks in any type of crab, mussel, oyster, snail, or anything that comes wrapped in a shell, it is crushed up. Once crushed up, the meat part goes down the gullet and the shattered shell parts are pushed right out the gills. This is as simple as it comes, for sure.
However, over the many years it has come to my attention that in some cases even though the redfish still wants to eat, it cannot. As the temps drop, baitfish (the softer food) move on or basically go into hibernation mode. The redfish depends more on food that comes wrapped in a shell. Sometimes the redfish must grab its intended meal quicker due to constant pressure of other fish feeding.

So, the process of sucking in, crushing and separating the meat from the shell is changed up a bit. Steps are left out. The crushing of the outer shell never takes place, and the whole package gets sent directly to the gullet. In my opinion, a redfish’s gut becomes full to the brim with meat that is still wrapped in an outer shell covering. It takes two to three days for the fish’s digestive system to melt away the shell covering.

This my fishing friends is my reasoning for why redfish, especially during the colder months, feed so erratically.

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