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 The “Gold Standard” of the Sea


     Sciaenops Ocellatus, or you may know them by other names; the Red Drum, Redfish, or Channel Bass. I can think of no better description for them other than, “BEAUTIFUL BRUISERS”! It is unimaginable, that years ago these fish were almost on the “trash fish” list. With their magnificent colors, unyielding fight, and a culinary delight, Redfish spawn some serious fishing.

     Red Drum's bodies are sturdy, built for hunting and migrating. Their amazing coloration depends on water salinity, temperature, and environment. They are adorned with beautiful protective scales that range from a deep copper gold to an almost iridescent silver. The meaty underside is a pearl white color. They bare unique markings, from having no spots (very rare), to over 500 spots located forward of their tails. This is “Mother Natures” camouflage to fight against predators. The spot resembles an eye in the hopes that it does not become prey to a larger fish.

     These hearty creatures live in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Their territory ranges as far North as the Chesapeake Bay area, all the way down to Northern Mexico. After a Red Drum hits the four year mark (there abouts), “it's time for them to fly”, they are on their way to deeper waters. Wrecks and drilling rigs are their dwellings of choice. A 40 year old, 40 pound fish is not an uncommon occurrence. Any Red over 27” is referred to as a “bull”, with the smaller juvenile fish called “rats”.

     Annually, Redfish migrate from deep waters back to the flats and estuaries Male Reds are “players”, they whisper “sweet nothings” to Mrs “right now” by using a muscle attached to their air bladders. They also use the sound as a defense mechanism, hence the name, Drumfish. The female, in turn, can lay millions of eggs. These eggs flow with currents throughout the mangroves and the cycle begins again.

     Reds diets consist of crustaceans, fish, and mollusks. These eating habits make for delicious table fare. The huge bonus is they are relatively easy to catch. You can “dead stick” these adversaries with chunks of lady fish, live pinfish, shrimp, or crabs. They will also “chew on” spoons, topwater, or soft plastics. Angler's skill levels can range from a “seasoned” fly fishing angler to a child with their first ”Scooby-Doo” rod and reel.

     The tricks to catching Redfish are no big secret, look for channel outlets, potholes oyster beds and sandbars. During high tide they will chase bait cruising the flats in search of their next meal. When the tide recedes, Redfish will seek out deeper troughs and holes.

     "Fish on”, a Red fish bite is very distinctive. Depending on the size of the fish, they can really make your drag scream. Holding to the bottom, the shoulder to shoulder pull makes for an exciting battle. When they spot an angler or realize they have been hooked, hang on for that second run.

     There is nothing like seeing that beautiful tail sticking out of the water at a 45 degree angle while they are foraging for food. During spawn migration, it is a sight to behold, hundreds of these magnificent fish “belly rolling” and moving on to their next destination. Fairly easy to catch, visually beautiful, a fight that won't be forgotten, and a taste that is out of this world. The Red Drum is truly, the “Gold Standard” of the sea.


Photo Credit: Tony Prevatt

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