How To Catch Redfish From Shore: Beach Guide

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how to catch redfish from the shore

In this article, we’re going to go over the basics of how to catch Redfish from shore. One of my absolute favorite things to do when I head down to the Gulf of Florida is to go surf fishing for Redfish. I’m no Puppy Drum guy, I’m after those big Bull Reds. Reds are known for giving anglers a fantastic fight, and it truly is a blast.

Not only are these fish super fun to catch, they’re also incredibly easy to target. The fish you see in the pictures were caught on a trip in April 2023 in Santa Rosa Beach Florida, which is very close to Panama City Beach. With that said, let’s talk about how to catch these big fish!

What Are Bull Redfish?

First off, let’s talk terminology. Redfish are a type of saltwater Rockfish that are an extremely popular species that anglers fish for.

They have several names you might have heard before; Bull Reds (or just bulls), Red Drum, Puppy Drum, Channel Bass. Most people use the name Puppy Drum to refer to juveniles.

You may often hear the term Bull Redfish specifically, and what that refers to is a large adult red drum that has reached sexual maturity, that is at least 2 feet long or more. This is what is considered bull status. So Puppy Drum and Bull Red refer to the same species of fish in different life stages and sizes. Both are Redfish or Red Drum.

Depending on the color of the sand and water, as well as the water depth, they can be silver in color or rusty red. The pictures you see in this guide, are very silver because the water is so clear and the sand is very light.

Best Time To Catch Redfish

The best time to catch Redfish from shore is spring and fall, however, these fish can be hooked year-round with a little adjustment to your strategy. As far as time of day goes, surf fishing for redfish can be productive at any time of the day. You can catch them in the middle of the afternoon, and even at night.

If you’re fishing on crowded beaches, night fishing might be the best and easiest option for you. Nothing is more frustrating than a bunch of people swimming over your lines! Plus, with fewer people in the water, the fish may come closer to shore because they aren’t scared away.

angler showing bull redfish caught from the shore
Showing how to hold a redfish

Best bait for Redfish Surf Fishing

Knowing how to fish for Redfish means knowing what the best bait is. In my experience, nothing beats freshly cut Mullet. I realize that not everybody has access to fresh-cut bait, so frozen might be your only option.

With that said, I cannot stress the importance of using a good source for frozen baits. I tested both Walmart-brand and frozen from a reputable bait shop. As you might guess the cut bait from the bait shop significantly out-fished the Walmart brand. Not only did it out-fish it, but the Walmart brand would turn into mush when it thawed and flew off the hook.

So the best bait for redfish is the freshest cut bait you can find. If you cannot get your hands on cut bait, the next best bait I would recommend is live bait shrimp or blue crab.

While natural baits are preferred, some people also have success with artificial lures. The best lures for Redfish include spoons, artificial crab baits, topwater lures, white jerkbaits, and swimbaits. However, a light lure can be very difficult to cast as far as you need to.

Best rod and reel for redfish

When you’re buying your tackle for redfish surf fishing, it’s important to think about the need for long casts. More specifically, you want a longer rod to cast far enough out into deeper waters where the large schools of big reds will be hanging out. The ideal place that you want to get your bait is right past the wave break or sand bar. This is where the fish will be hanging around.

The best redfish surf rod for this would be around 9 to 10 feet. This is long enough to get your bait where you need it, but not overkill. Pair this length with a medium-heavy to heavy power, and a fast to moderate-fast action. The combination will ensure you have a rod that can cast far enough and a backbone that can handle larger fish.

If it’s not long enough, you will have to walk your bait out so it gets past the shallow water and into the deep water. Additionally, if you use light tackle, you might have a hard time if you have to fight one of these fish.

The best redfish reel will be a spinning reel that is made for saltwater fishing and has the strength to reel in bigger fish. Good examples would be a Penn Spinfisher VI or a Penn Battle III, they are built specifically for saltwater and are corrosion resistant, plus they’re great quality and very strong. I would strongly advise not using your good freshwater reels.

A good reel size for bull Redfish would be around 6000+, depending on the brand. For example with a Penn Spinfisher, I would use a 6500, however, you should select the size that fits the appropriate line capacity.

Redfish Rig for Surf Fishing

The best rig will be a simple Carolina rig with either a 2-4 oz pyramid weight or a Sputnik Sinker depending on the tide conditions. You could also use a Santee Cooper style rig with a peg float to suspend the bait off the bottom. For both, you should avoid rounded sinkers because they will drift in the surf.

Additionally, the best hook for Redfish would be a circle hook because of their self-hook setting capability. It can be harder to detect bites while bottom fish in the surf, therefore, needing to set the hook yourself can be challenging. With circle hooks, they will take care of that on their own.

What fishing line for Reds?

When you’re catching bull redfish, it’s important to use an appropriate fishing line. Not only do these fish get large, but you also have a chance of catching even larger species, like Sharks.

For this reason, I recommend a 20+ pound monofilament or 40+ braided line. I’m more of a mono kind of guy personally, so I use Berkley Big Game for targeting larger species. If I were to use a braided line, I’d recommend using the Power Pro brand.

A bull redfish caught from shore on cut mullet
Beautiful Redfish caught from the shore

Fishing Location

Giant reds can be found right on the gulf beaches, as well as other nearshore waters. You do not need a boat or a fish finder fish for these beauties. Large schools of bulls and smaller fish will often be right out past the wave-break or sand bar in open water. Sometimes if you can get high ground overlooking the shore, you can locate a school that may be feeding.

How to catch redfish from shore

With the information provided above, now it’s time to put it all together and talk about how to catch Redfish from the shore. This is extremely simple. Cut a nice-sized piece of mullet or similar, put it on your hook, and cast your line out beyond the wave break or sand bar. Use a rod holder for surf fishing, sit back, and wait for a big hit. It’s this simple!


Are Redfish the same as red snapper?

No, these are two different species that slightly resemble one another. While the term “Redfish” can technically include red snapper, most people are referring to Red Drum.

Are Redfish good to eat?

Absolutely, they are a very popular fish to eat and have a great taste.

How big do Redfish Get?

The largest Redfish ever caught was a whopping 94 pounds, but you can reasonably expect to catch fish about half that size.

Do Redfish bite at night?

Yes! Targeting big Reds at night can be extremely productive. Not only that but when you fish at night, you don’t have to deal with people who swim over your lines.