Interesting Facts about Red Drum Fish (Sclaenops Ocellatus) Species


Red drum fish or redfish are very common in southeastern states. This prominent game fish are aggressive eaters and would attack several types of lures and baits you direct at them. The redfish are called “red” for a reason. Of course, they are red, but that’s not the main reason. The name was given to them because they create a drumming noise during their spawning season by resonating their swim bladders. This fish boasts of several other interesting facts you should know.

The Red Drum is a saltwater game fish found in some parts of the Atlantic coast and the entire Gulf of Mexico. They can attain a height of 5 feet and weigh around 90 pounds. This species of fish has an average lifespan of 35 years. It is dark red and orange with lots of black spots on its tail, including the back of their dorsal fin.

The redfish are very popular in Florida. Its popularity is due to its aggressive nature and because it is a food fish. There are lots of anglers who cherish and go after this species of fish; thus, it adds to their popularity as well. If you want to know why this fish is regarded as some of the best game fish out there, I suggest you sit back, relax and stay focused as I unveil facts about this fish to you.

Name:Red Drum
Scientific Name:Sclaenops Ocellatus
Other Names:Redfish, Spottail, Rat Red, Bull Red, Channel Bass, Poisson Rouge
Appearance:Has a slivery frame that comes with a reddish ting, including a slivery-grey to white tummy. It has scales with dark center, creating an irregular pattern on its body. It also has a unique dark spot at the bottom of its tail.
Habitat:Ranges from Massachusetts down to Key West and into the Gulf of Mexico.
Size:Average length is about 39.4 inches (100 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 50 years
Reproduction:Spawning usually take place from mid-August to mid-November
Similar Species:Black drum (Pogonias cromis)
World Record:94.2 pounds and was 59 inches
Best Live Bait:Croakers, menhaden, spot, pinfish, cut mullet, live crabs, cut of live squid, live shrimp

Interesting Facts about Red Drum Fish (Sclaenops Ocellatus) Species

Aren’t you anxious to know why lots of anglers go after this fish? Why they rejoice and take multiple photos of their catch when they pull it out from the water? If you are, just like every other angler would, you are about to find out.

Other Names: Redfish, Spottail, Rat Red, Bull Red, Channel Bass, and Poisson Rouge.

The redfish has a slivery frame that comes with a reddish ting, including a slivery-grey to white tummy. It has scales with dark center, creating an irregular pattern on its body. It also has a unique dark spot at the bottom of its tail. According to scientists, the spot(s) may not be there for fancy. It is believed that the spot acts as a replica of the eye. This makes predators attack the wrong end of the fish thus giving the redfish enough time to save itself.

As an angler keen on adding this species of fish to your trophy cabinet or “caught list,” you can find them near the shoreline: around the opening of the Bay. You can also find the school close to the water’s surface. Unlike some species of fishes, redfishes don’t travel far; they often roam around their birth area.

Red Drum Habitat:

You have heard so much about the red drum. In fact, each weekend, your close friend sends you pictures of some of his catch. This makes you eager to catch one or more. However, there is one major problem. You don’t know the red drum habitat and you don’t want to inquire from your friend because you want it to come as a surprise. So, what is the habitat of this fish?

Person holding prize spottail

The red drum habitat ranges from Massachusetts down to Key West and into the Gulf of Mexico. However, if you are intent on getting the biggest species, you should consider Florida’s southern marshes such as the Indian River Lagoon, including related “skinny water” venues located on coastal Louisiana and Texas.

Massachusetts, Key West and the Gulf of Mexico on the Map

The young redfish, commonly known as juveniles, are inshore fishes. You can find them in bays, rivers, including creeks. These young fishes cherish creeks with oyster beds. They often move out of the estuaries when they are around 4 years of age and have reached a length of 30 inches. They then tag along with the spawning group offshore. The best way to find this fish is by sight fishing the shallows. You can spot them in shells and mud flats at the mouth of bays and bayous when the temperature is warmer.

Red Drum Season:

In order to be successful in your pursuit of this species of fish, there are some significant information you ought to know. Of course, it is important that you know the habitat of this fishes. However, of greater importance is knowing the red drum season.

The red drum season is around April, May, and June for small reds. However, for the more oversized reds (bull redfish), the season is usually in late fall, before December. Massive movement occurs during October and November. During these months, you can often see schools tailing on shallow flats.

When the water temperature reduces, redfishes often migrate to deeper water. If you are fishing for reds during winter, be ready to do lots of scouting work because they may be hard to find. But, since the water is nippy, they won’t migrate far; so if spooked, you won’t have to cover much distance to locate the school.

3 people holding big red

Red Drum Bait:

A bait is a very crucial component in a tackle. It is any substance or object used to lure fishes, e.g., placed on a fishing hook or in a fishing trap. Because fishes are attracted to various animals, you must ensure that the bait you use is able to attract whatever fish you are after. For instance, the red drum bait you should use must be able to attract the fish. So what bait do you use for this fish?

bait shrimp

For bottom fishing, the ideal bait to adopt for red drum is blue crabs cut into two and mullets, or its pieces. You can also make use of shellfish meat. Generally, the ideal dead or live baits for reds are little crabs, mullets, and shrimps. This is simply because the abovementioned organisms are their primary prey. For artificial bait, you can make use of all types of plastic in combination with a jig head.

Aside from the abovementioned, you can try out other baits. These baits are: groundfish, ground crab meat combines with cornmeal. You can also make use of menhaden milk or oil; they are good for attracting reds. If you prefer not to use groundfish or oil, some cans of cat food will do. Create some holes on the can, then leave it hanging on the water. Shake the can while it’s suspended and watch the magic that unfolds.

Red Drum World Record:

For all species of fish, there is always a world record. This isn’t just limited to the fishing world alone; it is extended to other sports and life endeavors. The world record simply indicates the biggest fish to be caught. With that being said, what is the red drum world record?

The largest redfish to be captured weighed 94 lb. 2 oz. It was captured by Mr. David Deuel while fishing mullet along the bottom of a sandbar in Avon, North Carolina, in the year July 11, 1984. No one has broken the red drum world record set by Mr. David. In fact, ever since the record was set, no one has come close. The closest that was ever recorded was that of George E. Hogan, Jr., on February 24, 1996. The redfish he caught weighed 52 lb., 5 oz.

Redfish can live for about 50 years. They can be 45 inches long and weigh around 51 pounds. These fishes are aggressive feeders. The young ones consume little crabs, shrimp, and marine worms. As they grow, their diet tends to change. Growing channel bass often feed on bigger crabs, shrimps, little fish, and sometimes they can feed on their relative, the Atlantic croaker. Channel bass feed on bottom animals; this makes them bottom feeders.

How to Catch Red Drum?

This is the most interesting part as far as fishing for reds is concerned. Now, you are aware of the season these fishes come out to play and their habitats. Now, the big question is, how do you catch a red drum?

If you would like to know more about the reels to use while catching reds, you can find all the required information in this post.

There are two techniques to consider when going after reds. You can consider:

  • Fishing from a little boat (kayak, canoe)
  • Fishing from a fishing boat

Let us take an in-depth look at these techniques.

Fishing from a Little Boat (Kayak, Canoe):

Reds love crabs. Even though crabs are hard, reds have the mechanism to crush them and sap the soft parts. Shrimp is another organism reds love. However, shrimps are quite hard to locate.

Due to their body structure, crabs are often hard to place and retain on a hook. On the other hand, shrimps don’t have a complex body structure like crabs, so they are easy to place and retain on a hook. So when fishing for reds, consider using shrimps. These organisms are quite easy to fix on the hook; this slows them down so they can’t escape from the opened mouth of the redfish.

Bull Red in a Kayak

If you prefer to use crab, I suggest you make use of artificial crab bait. Redfish cherish them, and as soon as you determine which works best in your location, you will be hooking up reds on a frequent basis.

How you fish for reds hinges on their location in the water. Normally, you find spottail on the bottom or close to it. If you are fishing in shallow water, and you can view reds tailing, freeline a shrimp and it will drift naturally, inviting attacks from reds

If you are fishing in deeper or fast-flowing water, include a sinker to your line to drag the bait to the seabed. Test how far away from your hook you include your static weight. You can start with 1 yard (meter) and check if it works. If it doesn’t, you can make it longer. The longer it is (the leader) away from your sinker, the more your shrimp can drift naturally, hopefully bouncing on the seabed and provoking the red to strike.

Fishing from a Fishing Boat:

If you own a boat that is a little bigger, a flat fishing boat, or something alike, you can make use of a fishing equipment called the water depth-finder. The water depth-finder is used to locate areas where the shelve drops off.

The ideal spottail area can be located by searching for drop-offs from 5-30 feet. Currents drag baits down into these pockets where huge reds select what they consume. Place a huge shrimp, crab, or shad on a hook and release it down to these depths during a tide, and you’ll hook up. You can make use of mullets or big pinfish; they are both ideal baits for reds.

Fishing for Red Drum in the Surf

Surf fishing is awesome! Unlike fishing in a boat or a kayak, you don’t need to be on the water to surf fish. A good spot on the shoreline is enough. Or if you aren’t scared of the water, you can decide to wade in the surf to fish. Fishing for red in the surf is possible, provided you know the “HOW” and you have good knowledge of the tackles to use.

If you would like to know more about best rods to use while catching reds, check out this article.

Surf Fishing for Reds

When surf fishing for redfish, you would want to ensure that you are armed with the right tackle. Spinning reels and conventional level-wind reels are your best pick when surf fishing for this fish. You can use whichever suits you. In addition, any of these baits (mullet, Rays Ladyfish, Blue Crab, Croakers) would be effective in this condition. Locate places that have some shore and underwater terrain, as that’s where your catch would likely be. Cutouts, sloughs, sandbars, and troughs are things you should take note of.

When surf fishing for reds, you would want to use spinning reels because they can help you cast farther even with little experience. On the other hand, conventional reels can also be effective when surf fishing for spottail, but they are hard to master. After selecting your tackle and finding a good location, the next step is to arrange your spread. It is common to use a minimum of 2-3 rods, set up in rod holders, and separated far enough to cover a wide amount of water. It is important that they are far enough to prevent tangled lines, but not too far so that you can get them fast when the fish bites. Early morning and late evening are the appropriate time to locate the bigger bull reds in shallow water.

Red Drum Tackle:

A tackle is a general name used to describe a fisherman’s equipment. When fishing, it is important that you go with right tackle. You must ensure that the tackle you go with is designed to catch the fish you intend to capture. For instance, it may be unwise to take tackles meant for capturing a tuna when embarking on a Largemouth bass fishing trip. With that being said, what is the red drum tackle to use?

When fishing for channel bass, you should consider using a light to medium spinning or casting tackle with 15 to 20-pound test line. Reds are quite exuberant. They will attack artificials like plastic grubs and topwater, but are mainly caught with the aid of live or dead bait. You can also make use of any spinning or baitcasting tackles with 10 to 20 lb. rating and 1/10 to 4/0 hook.

The tackle you use while going after this fish will play a huge role in your success. If you make use of the wrong tackle, you might return home frustrated. So ensure you make use of the recommended red drum tackle. It makes things smooth and easier for you. Remember, reds are quite alert and can be easily scared. This is valid, particularly in shallow or very transparent water. So ensure you quietly make your move with the aid of a push pole, ensuring that you don’t alert the fish.

Red Drum Lures:

Some people often mistake lures with baits. They believe that these two fishing components are synonymous. Well, that is not really the case. A lure is an artificial bait used to attract fishes. A bait, on the other hand, can either be a live bait or an artificial bait. Having clarified that, what lures are to be used for reds? Put differently, what are red drum lures?

Reds are very attracted to artificial lures. A red jighead that comes with a white grub and pink tail is enough to lure that red out. In addition, this fish would also go after other combination of jighead and soft body. Just experiment in your location to find that which is appropriate. Adopt a stop-and-go rhythm when fishing a jig, letting the jig hit the bottom, and then two or three rapid pulls before submerging it once more.

You can also make use of plugs (surface and suspended); they are quite efficient. Just like plugs, freshwater crankbaits can come handy as well. Ensure that the color is the same as the bait. If you have several mullets in your location, a mullet-patterned topwater can brighten up your mood as you fish. Not only will the red attack it, but other fishes like the bluefish, skipjack, and flounder will attack it as well. If your location lacks mullet, you can use whatever type of baitfish is popular. Red / white patterned plugs are an ideal alternative.

Why Should You Catch Redfish?

It is an amazing game fish. If you reside around one of the coastal regions of the United States or northern Mexico, there are some reasons you would want to catch redfish.

FIsherman holding Rat red

Here are only a few of them why you should consider going after this fish:

  • They are delicious
  • Catching them is fun

They are delicious:

Can you eat a red drum? Of course, you can! And they are delicious. There are several fish in the world that are naturally delicious. You don’t need spices or fancy ingredients to make them taste good. Redfish is one of those fishes. They taste good, which is why you need to grab your reel, red drum lures, and bait, and go fishing for red drum.

Catching them is fun:

Who doesn’t like fun? The thrill and spills you tend to experience when catching spottail another reason you should go for them. They offer anglers a massive challenge. Thus, capturing one should enhance your bragging rights.

What do Redfish Eat?

There are some significant information about reds every angler ought to know. This information will enable you to understand reds better. If you understand reds well, capturing them wouldn’t be hard compared to someone who doesn’t. One important thing you need to know about reds is regarding their feeding habit; what they eat, to be precise. What do redfish eat?

Reds eat a host of animals. They eat shrimps, crabs, mollusks, pinfish, mullet, shad (menhaden), killfish (mud-minnows), squid, and dead cut-bait.

You may find it unbelievable that a fish like the red can consume a crab. A crab, as you know, has a hard shell. However, the interior of the redfish’s mouth is sturdy, and this makes it easy to squash crabs and other animals with a sturdy external shell. Occasionally, you can find reds on sandy bottom hunting for crabs and other edibles, with their tail inverted. This is commonly regarded as tailing. A tailing red can be spotted easily, and it can also be very easy to catch if you know what to do.

Can You Eat a Red Drum?

Cooked Channel Bass on a Plate

This is one common question anglers are dying to know; novice, especially. What’s the essence of capturing a fish you can’t eat? Not all species of fish are edible, though. Some contain poisonous toxins that can be harmful to your health, so it’s best you do your homework before you send any fish down your esophagus. So, can you eat a red drum?

You can eat redfish, provided you cook it well. You shouldn’t attempt to eat it raw, because it could harbor parasites. If you are over 15 and you haven’t gotten to the childbearing age, you can eat redfish around four times a week; it is safe. Children below 15 shouldn’t eat more than two portions of this fish in a week.

Pregnant women can eat redfish because it has low mercury. However, they shouldn’t consume this fish more than twice a week. Fishes that contain high mercury aren’t safe for pregnant women and those of childbearing age. Redfish can be prepared in several ways. Below are some common cooking methods:

  • Pate
  • Poach
  • Smoke
  • Steam
  • Bake
  • Boil
  • Broil
  • Fry
  • Grill
  • Saute

Redfish Laws:

Over the years, lots of species of animals have gone extinct. Most times, humans are often the result of their extinction. Thus, in many countries, measures have been put in place to checkmate animal extinction. One of the common measures is the introduction of laws. To ensure that the redfish don’t go extinct as some fishes have, a law was created to regulate the number of redfish taken out of the ocean. The redfish law is meant to protect the redfish from extinction.

Prize Fish on a Boat

Former president of the United States, George Bush, enacted a law designed to protect the redfish and regulate how it is caught. This law is also designed to protect this species of fish from commercial fishing. It is unlawful to catch red drum in international waters around the United States.

Furthermore, it is illegal to sell wild-caught reds. It remains unsure if restaurant owners are allowed to catch reds, cook them, and sell in a meal. However, it is hard to come across a redfish on a menu in Florida.


You shouldn’t worry about catching reds; they aren’t difficult to find. The more you go after these fishes, the more experience you gather. Irrespective of oodles of videos you watch or the long articles you read, your best success only comes when you go out there and start fishing.

It is advised that you carry along a small logbook on your phone, take notes of the weather, tides, conditions, including the time of the year. You will be stunned at how predictable these fishes can be. The tides are identical every fortnight or thereabout. Thus, if you were successful two weeks earlier, there is a huge chance that you will taste success if you go out and fish in the same tide or condition.

Also, it is important that you carry the right tackles. Make use of the lures and baits mentioned in this article. The best red drum baits are mullets, crabs, and shrimps. Lure them out of their hiding using what they love, and you will record good success.

Recent Posts