Waist Deep, Chasing Reds By: Paul Presson

Sciaenops Ocellatus; or, you may know them by other names; red drum, redfish or channel bass.  I can think of no better description for these fish, other than “BEAUTIFUL BRUISERS!”  Redfish can be found as far north as the Chesapeake Bay and as far south as Mexico.  They are a staple for Florida inshore anglers and, in many areas, considered part of the every sought-out slam.  It is unimaginable that years ago these fish were almost on the “trash fish” list.  With their magnificent colors, unyielding fight and a culinary delight, redfish spawn some serious fishing.

Some anglers pursue these fish by boat, others by kayak, but wade fishing for these formidable adversaries can be a “primal” experience.  There are many different techniques that work well when redfish are a wade angler’s target.  Weather you use live bait, dead bait, soft plastics, gold spoons or topwater lures, red drum are not finicky eaters.  Knowing where to look for them and their telltale signs are key to catching these fish.

Visual clues, as well as, environmental and seasonal factors are all important in finding these fish.  Oyster beds, troughs along mangrove lines and pot holes are just a few indicators that red fish are in the area.  An experienced wade angler also knows how to read the water–constantly looking for movement.  Casting beyond a school of mullet, knowing there are probably a few reds in the middle of the pack, can lead to “fish on”!

One of the most magnificent sights a wading angler can hope for is a singular or, better yet, a school of reds tailing.  As these fish forage, nose down, their beautifully colored tails (and don’t forget those spots) are a breathtaking sight to behold.  Once you hear that drag begin to scream, this is when the fun begins.

That distinguishing “shoulder to shoulder” pull will make any wading anglers adrenaline pump.  There is nothing like having a bull red on your line when you are wade fishing.  Will it make a run for you, will you get tangled or is it heading for the safety of those mangroves?  With all this running through your head, once it gets close, now you have to land this “bruiser”.  Sweating, even on the coldest of days, arms worn out and mind in overload, you are a mighty hunter.  As you hold your trophy red fish and admire the beautiful colors, you are immediately hooked.  The next time you decide to go fishing, get waist deep and chase some reds!

Thanks to Tom Depalma–equipment used:  Redbone medium heavy 7-foot 2-inch rod, 3000 Shimano Stradic Reel, 10-pound braid, 25-pound fluorocarbon and a 1/0 circle hook with a live shrimp.

Thanks to David DeBardeleben–equipment used:  Shimano Saros 3000F on a Temple Fork outfitters TFG PFS 704-1, 20-pound Power Pro, 30-pound Advance Fluoro under a float with a 2/0 circle hook and live shrimp.