Redfish are the staple of our inshore fishery in the Indian River, Banana River, and Mosquito Lagoon. Thirty minutes east of Orlando, Florida, and just north of Cocoa Beach, these three bodies of water surround the Kennedy Space Center complex. They are part of the Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. This unique area of Florida is the most diverse saltwater estuary in the United States. We are fortunate to have an excellent nursery area for juvenile reds as well as abundant habitat for adult fish.
Redfish are extremely wary when feeding in shallow water, but can be caught on a variety of properly presented live baits, dead baits, and artificial lures all year long. The preferred method of fishing for this species is to “site cast’ to single “cruising” or “tailing” fish. Because you are looking for fish prior to making a cast, it is extremely important to wear polarized glasses which enable you to see these fish more clearly in the water. Calm periods make this process much easier because the fish are more visible as they feed in the shallow lagoon waters. During portions of the year redfish form into schools that can number into the hundreds. When this occurs, these fish become much more aggressive and easier to catch.
Six to twelve pound class spinning and casting equipment are the most popular tools for catching redfish. Fly fisherman will be best suited with 6 to 9 weight gear.
Redfish can be caught all year long in East Central Florida. But some months of the year are better than others. Slot sized fish are usually most abundant in the months of April, May, June, August, September, and October. They are also very aggressive during warming trends between cold fronts in December through February. The larger adult fish are protected from harvest. These fish are a unique genetic strain that has adapted to life in these estuaries. These giant fish even spawn inside our lagoon system instead of out at sea. This phenomenon isn’t known to occur anywhere else in the redfish’s range from Maryland to Texas. The spawning ritual usually occurs from mid-August to mid-October. During this time of the year, you can expect to see 400 to 1000 fish in each school. These aggressive 15 to 40 pound (35 to 50+ inch long) fish will devour everything that hits the water in their path. This is the hottest “big redfish” action you will ever experience in your life.