Tips for Catching Red Drum in the Fall

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Are you planning on heading south this fall to do a little red drum fishing? If not, you may want to give it some thought. The cooler weather tends to make for excellent fishing in Florida and Georgia. The red drum also tend to be on the move at that time. As such, you may want to take a moment to peruse my tips for catching fall red drum. Here they are:

Where to Look

Before you can catch a red drum, you'll need to know where to look for one. In my opinion, the best way to do that is to understand the species' biology. With that said, red drum are inshore, bottom feeding fish that tend to prefer water that is in the 50 to 82 degree Fahrenheit range. Spawning tends to occur in the fall near the mouths of estuaries, especially during a new or full moon. Hence, the big bulls are often found within the surf zone in early autumn.

The fish typically start their life in turbid, fresh water near submerged and emergent vegetation. As they age, however, they tend to migrate to warm, open salt water. I have found that great places to look for them are around docks, shoreline mangroves, oyster bars and grassy flats with sandy depressions.

When to Look

Now that you have a good idea where to look for the red drum, let's talk about when you should plan to go fishing for them. In my experience, red drum tend to feed more aggressively at dawn and dusk. Their feeding also seems to be influenced by the tides. As such, I'd suggest that you consider targeting the oyster bars immediately before and after high tide. Fishing on overcast days when the UV rays aren't so intense has also proven productive for me.

Bait and Tackle

As red drum age, their diets change a bit. Therefore, if you want to catch a bruiser, I'd suggest that you consider using moderate to large size blue crab and jumbo shrimp. If you do decide to use the crab, make sure that you remove the claws and the top shell. You'll also want to crack it open. Other excellent bait options include pinfish, pilchards, lady fish and finger mullet. When it comes to lures, bottom bouncers, crankbaits and spoons may also prove to be productive at times. Personally, I'd also suggest that your consider surf fishing and pier fishing in the fall. If you do decide to go surf fishing, just make sure that you don't push too much water around. Otherwise, you may spook the red drum.

Killeen Gonzalez enjoys fishing with her family. She has also traveled extensively.

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