The Fall Redfish Run in Galveston

September 24, 2019

Falling for Redfish

Fall season is without a doubt the BEST time to catch Redfish while fishing the Galveston waters. It’s the annual fall migration of big bull reds as they head from the bays into the Gulf to spawn, and you’re sure to see a line of anglers in the pass with lines in the water ready to snag a bull! Here’s everything you need to know about fishing for Redfish in October while visiting Galveston, Texas.

Redfish, also known as Red Drum, are members of the Drum family. This family gets its name from their propensity and ability to make a unique drumming/grunting sound when pulled from the water. Redfish are identified by a large, ringed spot (or spots) on the upper part of the body at the start of the tail. Their colors can run from silver to copper red which fades to white on the bottom. They are similar to black drum, but Redfish have no barbels (or feelers), and the Black Drum never have the spot near the tail.

Redfish are usually bottom feeders, which is why the migratory season is so hot. They are on the move in mass and are easier to target. You know the saying “like fish in a barrel”? It’s *almost* like that… they are running from the nearby bays (Galveston Bay, West Bay, East Bay, and Trinity Bay) into the Gulf of Mexico and have to travel through either Galveston Pass or San Luis Pass. Just anchor down, and get ready to have your reels screamin’!

Multiple rods improve your chances for a great catch. You could go sight fishing for Redfish, which involves light tackle and fly rods in shallow waters… but during their migration we recommend drift fishing with several rods. Drift fishing is when you toss your bait just past the fish and let the fish discover the bait on their own as it passes by. When you get a hit, set the hook and hang on! The advantage of drift fishing while Redfish are migrating is that it feels natural for the Redfish to grab a bite while traveling, and with any luck the thing they’re snacking on is your bait!

couple holding Redfish, Sapelo Island

Redfish Baits and Tackle

Redfish like small crustaceans such as shrimp or crab, as well as baitfish like mullet, pinfish, or lizardfish. Live or cut bait is usually best, but you can also land Redfish with artificial lures. When choosing a lure for your Redfish fishing trip, try spoons, spinnerbaits, or topwaters.

If you do decide to go sight fishing for Redfish, stay near shallow waters and watch for the flick of their tail against the top of the water. Again, use either a spoon or spinnerbait that will get the attention of the fish. Be sure to wear your polarized sunglasses when sight fishing, as they will help with the reflection off the water.

Fly fishing is another popular technique for catching Redfish in shallow waters. Redfish are great for fly fishing enthusiasts, as they are easy to see when they flick their tails on the topwater. And Redfish are extremely fun to catch on the fly! Use either a 8-wt or 9-wt rod and throw flies the Reds can see, such as the Chernobyl shrimp.

Redfish Regulations

Before heading out, be sure to check Texas Parks & Wildlife’s website (TPWD) for regulations; the Lone Star State has a daily bag limit and slot limit for Redfish. Currently (and until August 31, 2020) each angler can keep 3 Redfish that are within 20” to 28”. Each year the state also allows anglers to purchase a Bonus Red Drum Tag, allowing the angler to keep one Redfish that reaches more than 28 inches. These Bonus Tags are available at local retail stores that sell fishing gear and supplies.

Once you’ve landed your Redfish, it’s time to clean & fillet your catch to start preparing a delicious meal. You’ll want to cook it as soon as possible for the freshest dinner possible. Smaller Redfish tend to have a much better texture and taste than the larger Bull Reds. The larger fish tend to be more coarse and stringy, and the meat doesn’t have as good of flavor. Make sure to cook the fish all the way through, such as fried or grilled; do not serve raw for sashimi or ceviche as Redfish may contain parasites. However you cook Redfish, get ready for one of the most delicious and moist white meats with sweet & mild flavor.

If you haven’t experienced fishing for Redfish in Galveston during the fall migration season, get yourself a rod in hand and get out there! Whether you’re fishing solo from the shore, or hire a Professional Fishing Charter, it’s an experience not to be missed. Get your lines ready for a Red October in Galveston!

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