The Ultimate Guide to Summer Redfish Fishing on Florida's West Coast

Catch More Redfish in Summer

Ah, summer on Florida's West Coast - the (almost) perfect time for redfish fishing! If you're an experienced (or novice) fisherman looking to up your game in the inshore waters, then you're in for a treat. In this ultimate guide to summer redfish fishing, we'll take you through everything you need to know to catch more and bigger redfish this season.

Redfish are one of the most sought-after species in Florida's West Coast waters, and for good reason. They are challenging to chase, tough fighters, and can be found in abundance during the summer months. However, catching them requires some skill and knowledge of their behavior and habitat. That's why we've put together this guide to help you understand and master the art of redfish fishing in the Summer months

We'll cover everything from the right tackle and gear to techniques and strategies, as well as locations and timing for optimal summer fishing success. But first, let's take a closer look at redfish and what makes them such a popular and exciting fish to catch. So, grab a cold drink and let's dive in!

Understanding Redfish

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of redfish fishing, it's important to understand what makes these fish tick. Redfish, also known as red drum, are known for their bronze-colored bodies and distinctive black spots on their tails. They are a hardy species that can survive in a range of water conditions, making them a popular target for both novice and experienced anglers.

Redfish tend to school together in shallow waters during the summer, making them relatively easy to locate. When searching for them, keep an eye out for shallow grass flats, oyster bars, and mangrove shorelines. Redfish feed primarily on crustaceans, baitfish, and shrimp, so look for areas where these prey are abundant.

During the summer, redfish can become more sluggish and less active due to the warm water temperatures. This means that they may be less willing to chase after fast-moving lures or baits. To increase your chances of a successful catch, it's important to present your bait or lure in a way that mimics their natural prey and triggers their feeding response.

We find that using cut bait (threadfin, mullet, & pinfish are our favorites) under the bushes can be especially effective for catching redfish during hot summer days.

Understanding the behavior and habitat of redfish is crucial to catching them. Take the time to observe their movements and feeding patterns, and adjust your approach accordingly. With the right knowledge and strategy, you'll be reeling in those redfish in no time.

Tackle and Gear

Now that we've covered the basics of redfish behavior, let's talk about the tackle and gear you'll need for a successful day on the water. As with any type of fishing, having the right equipment can make all the difference.

For redfish fishing on Florida's West Coast, a medium to heavy action rod with a fast tip is ideal. This will provide the strength and sensitivity you need to detect the fish's (sometimes) subtle bites and set the hook. Paired with a quality reel, you'll have the power and control to reel in those hard-fighting redfish.

We recommend the Resolute 4000 Spinning Reel paired with a 7’6” 10-20# Medium Heavy Fast Action Bull Bay Sniper Rod for fishing for redfish with cut bait and live bait under the mangroves and around docks in shallow water.

If fishing docks in deeper water with heavier current, we recommend bumping up in size to a Resolute 5000 or 6000 spinning reel paired on a shorter 7’ 20-40# Medium  Heavy Fast Action Bull Bay Brute Force Rod. Generally, anglers are going to find bigger Redfish that require larger gear when fishing around docks near passes or inlets.

When it comes to line and leader, braided line in the 15-30 lbs range is a good overall range. This will provide the strength and durability needed to handle the fish's strong pulls and sudden head-shakes. Fluorocarbon leader in the 20-30 lb range is also recommended, as it is nearly invisible underwater and has high abrasion resistance (unlike braided fishing line).

If fishing deeper water for bigger redfish, you will want to increase the size of your braid and fluorocarbon leader. For more in depth instruction on choosing the right size rod, reel, & line for the redfish you're chasing, check out our How to Catch Redfish Guide.

When selecting baits and lures for redfish, it's important to consider their feeding patterns and the water conditions you'll be fishing in. For live bait, shrimp, white bait, pinfish, threadfin, and small crabs are all popular choices. For artificial lures, consider soft plastic paddle tails or shrimp, topwater plugs, and spoons. Choose colors that mimic the prey in the area and vary your retrieval speed to entice strikes.

One thing to keep in mind is that redfish are often found in shallow waters, which means that they may be spooked by a noisy or clumsy approach. Make sure to use stealthy tactics and approach slowly to avoid scaring them away.

In summary, when selecting your tackle and gear for redfish fishing, focus on good quality rods and reel, pair your reels up with the right size line and leader for the type of redfish fishing you will be doing, and match the hatch by using bait that is generally found in the area you’re chasing redfish. With the right equipment, you'll be ready to reel in those trophy redfish.

Techniques and Strategies

Now that you have the right equipment and a good understanding of redfish behavior, it's time to talk about some techniques and strategies to increase your chances of success.

One popular method for redfish fishing is sight fishing. This involves looking for fish in shallow waters and casting towards them with precision. Polarized sunglasses can help you spot fish in the water, and a quiet approach is key to avoid spooking them. Generally, your window of opportunity is early in the morning or later in the day when sight fishing for redfish in the summer months.

Another effective technique is using live bait, such as shrimp, white bait, or pinfish under the bushes. These can be rigged on a hook with a weight or a popping cork to create a natural presentation. Remember to match the size of your bait to the size of the fish you're targeting.

For more in depth instruction on choosing the right size hooks, leader, and baits for the redfish you're chasing, check out our How to Catch Redfish Guide.

If you prefer artificial lures, soft plastic baits, topwater plugs, and spoons are all effective options. Vary your retrieval speed and technique to find what works best on that particular day. For example, a slow, steady retrieve with a soft plastic bait can mimic a fleeing crab or shrimp and entice a bite.

Redfish are also known for their tendency to congregate around structure, such as oyster bars, docks, and mangrove roots. Casting your bait or lure around these areas and letting it sink can attract fish and lead to a successful catch.

One thing to keep in mind is that redfish are a protected species in Florida, and there are regulations in place regarding catch limits and size restrictions. Make sure to check the current regulations before you head out on your fishing trip.

Locations and Timing

Now that you have the right equipment and techniques, the next step is to find the best spots to catch redfish on Florida's West Coast. Knowing where and when to fish can make a huge difference in your success rate.

One of the best areas to catch redfish is around the shallow flats and estuaries along the coast. The Tampa Bay area, including areas such as Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater, is a popular location for redfish fishing. Other areas, such as Charlotte Harbor and the Ten Thousand Islands, also offer great opportunities.

Timing is also important when it comes to redfish fishing. In general, the best time to target redfish is during the early morning and late afternoon, when the water is cooler and the fish are more active. However, redfish can be caught throughout the day if the conditions are right.

During the summer months, redfish tend to move to deeper waters to avoid the heat. Look for areas with structure and drop-offs, such as channels and inlets, where redfish may congregate.

It's also important to pay attention to the tides when planning your fishing trip. Redfish tend to feed during incoming and outgoing tides, so plan your fishing accordingly.

By targeting the right locations and fishing during the optimal times, you can greatly increase your chances of catching redfish on Florida's West Coast.

Remember to always respect the environment and follow all regulations when fishing. With the right approach and a bit of luck, you'll be reeling in redfish in no time.

Safety and Conservation

As with any outdoor activity, safety should always be a top priority when fishing for redfish on Florida's West Coast. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Wear appropriate safety gear, including a life jacket (when under way) and non-slip shoes.
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks to stay hydrated and energized.
  • Watch out for changing weather conditions, such as thunderstorms or high winds, and be prepared to head back to shore if necessary.
  • Practice safe boating practices and always follow boating regulations.

In addition to safety, it's important to also prioritize conservation when fishing for redfish. Redfish are a protected species in Florida, and there are regulations in place regarding catch limits and size restrictions. It's important to always follow these regulations and practice responsible fishing practices.

Here are some ways you can help conserve redfish populations:

  • Handle the fish carefully and release them back into the water as quickly as possible to minimize stress and injury.
  • Use rubber mesh net instead of nylon nets, and use the net to keep your fish in the water as much as possible
  • Use barbless hooks to make it easier to release the fish.
  • Avoid using treble hooks, which can cause more damage to the fish.
  • Pick up any trash or debris you see in the water or on the shore to help keep the environment clean and healthy.

By practicing safe and responsible fishing practices, we can help ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the thrill of redfish fishing on Florida's West Coast.


In conclusion, summer redfish fishing on Florida's West Coast can be an exciting and rewarding experience for experienced fishermen. With the right equipment, knowledge of redfish behavior, and effective techniques and strategies, you can increase your chances of success and catch some trophy fish.

Remember to stay patient and observant, and be willing to adapt your approach based on the conditions and the fish's behavior. And most importantly, respect the fish and the environment by following all regulations and practicing responsible fishing practices.

Good luck out there, and tight lines!