What are Ideal Water Conditions for Redfish

Red Drum, or redfish, is one of Florida’s most popular sport fish, inhabiting all Gulf of Mexico waters and the Atlantic as far north as Massachusetts. They are sought after wonderful fighters and are delicious table fare. What are Ideal Water Conditions for Redfish?

Ideal water conditions for redfish:

  • Temperature: 65-85°F
  • Salinity: Moderate to high
  • Oxygen: Adequate levels
  • Clarity: Clear to slightly turbid
  • Tidal movement: Influential
  • Structure: Presence of marshes, flats, oyster beds
  • Baitfish activity: Indicator
  • Adaptability: Key for success.


RedFish likes clean water estuaries the most. Tidal creeks are my favorite places to find redfish but any structures like docks, bridges, marsh grass shorelines and shallow grass flats with sandy potholes are also good places to start looking for them. Redfish like hard bottoms to forage for food


The ideal water conditions for redfish encompass several key factors that influence their behavior and habitat preferences. Firstly, redfish thrive in waters with temperatures ranging from approximately 65°F to 85°F, with optimal feeding activity typically occurring in the mid-range of this spectrum. Additionally, redfish are most commonly found in brackish or saltwater environments with moderate to high salinity levels, although they can also tolerate fluctuations within this range.

Adequate oxygen levels are essential for redfish survival, with well-oxygenated waters supporting their energetic feeding habits and vigorous fighting prowess. Furthermore, water clarity plays a significant role in redfish angling success, as these fish often rely on their acute senses to locate prey in clear or slightly turbid waters. Lastly, tidal movement greatly influences redfish behavior, with many anglers targeting specific areas during incoming or outgoing tides to capitalize on feeding opportunities. Understanding and adapting to these ideal water conditions is paramount for anglers seeking consistent success in their pursuit of redfish along coastal waters.


What are Ideal Water Conditions for Redfish


Redfish can be caught from Texas around Florida and up to the inshore waters of New Jersey. They like clean water estuaries the most. Tidal creeks are their favorite places to hang out but any structures like docks, bridges, marsh grass shorelines, and shallow grass flats will do. 1 to 5 feet deep.

Redfish can be found in a variety of habitats along coastal regions, each offering unique opportunities for anglers:

  1. Marshes: Saltwater marshes and estuaries provide important feeding and nursery grounds for redfish. These shallow, vegetated areas offer abundant food sources, including crabs, shrimp, and small fish. Redfish often patrol the edges of marsh grasses, using them as cover while hunting for prey.

    How to Fish for Redfish: The Complete Guide (Updated)
    Ideal Habitat for Redfish
  2. Flats: Shallow flats, characterized by sandy or grassy bottoms, are prime habitat for sight-fishing redfish. Flats provide expansive feeding areas where redfish can search for crustaceans and baitfish. Redfish are often found cruising or tailing in shallow waters, making them accessible to anglers using light tackle and stealthy approaches.
  3. Oyster Beds: Oyster beds are hotspots for redfish activity, as they attract a variety of prey species seeking shelter among the oyster reefs. Redfish feed along the edges of oyster bars, using the uneven terrain and current breaks to ambush prey. Fishing around oyster beds requires careful navigation to avoid damaging gear on the sharp shells.

Factors Influencing Redfish Habitat Selection:

Several factors influence redfish habitat selection:

  1. Food Availability: Redfish are opportunistic feeders, selecting habitats with abundant prey resources such as crustaceans, baitfish, and invertebrates.
  2. Water Quality: Redfish prefer habitats with good water quality, including adequate oxygen levels, suitable salinity, and clear water clarity.
  3. Protection from Predators: Redfish seek habitats that offer protection from predators, such as marsh grasses, mangroves, and submerged structures.
  4. Temperature and Depth: Redfish are sensitive to water temperature and depth preferences, seeking out areas with suitable thermal conditions and depth ranges for feeding and comfort.

Tips for Identifying Productive Redfish Habitats Based on Environmental Cues:

  1. Look for Structure: Search for areas with natural structure such as marsh edges, oyster bars, sandbars, and submerged vegetation. These features provide cover and food sources for redfish.
  2. Observe Baitfish Activity: Keep an eye out for signs of baitfish activity, such as surface disturbances, nervous baitfish behavior, or diving birds. Where there’s bait, there are likely predators, including redfish, nearby.
  3. Check Water Clarity: Clearwater often indicates healthier habitats with better oxygenation and visibility, making them attractive to redfish. However, don’t discount areas with slightly turbid water, as redfish can still thrive in these conditions.
  4. Follow the Tides: Tidal movements influence redfish behavior and habitat use. Focus on areas where tidal currents concentrate baitfish and other prey species, such as tidal creeks, flats, and points.

By understanding common redfish habitats, the factors influencing habitat selection, and how to identify productive areas based on environmental cues, anglers can effectively target redfish and increase their chances of success on the water.


Ideal Water Temperature for Redfish


The preferred temperature range for redfish typically falls between 65°F to 85°F (18°C to 29°C). Within this temperature range, redfish are most active and exhibit optimal feeding behaviors. However, their activity levels may vary depending on the specific environmental conditions and seasonal changes.

Redfish may move to find warmer water when temperatures get below 70°F and probably won’t feed at all when temperatures get below 52°F. Redfish are happiest when the salinity of the water is between (27 – 32°C) If the water is outside of this range, redfish may move to find a more preferable salinity or not feed as well. Redfish are generally bottom feeders and use their downward facing mouth to search for crabs and shrimp on the bottom, but will also hit artificial and lures.

Temperature plays a significant role in shaping redfish behavior and feeding patterns. In warmer waters towards the upper end of their preferred range, redfish tend to be more active and aggressive in their feeding behavior. They may actively hunt for prey, such as crustaceans, baitfish, and other small marine organisms, and are often more responsive to angler presentations. Warmer temperatures also stimulate metabolic rates in redfish, leading to increased energy expenditure and feeding activity.

Conversely, in cooler waters towards the lower end of their preferred range, redfish may exhibit more subdued behavior. They may become less active and seek out warmer areas, such as shallow flats or sunlit shallows, to regulate their body temperature. In colder temperatures, redfish may also slow down their feeding activity, becoming more selective in their prey choices and conserving energy to maintain their overall health and vitality.

To locate redfish based on temperature variations, anglers can employ several strategies:

  1. Monitor Water Temperatures: Use a thermometer or electronic device to measure water temperatures in different areas where redfish are known to inhabit. Focus on areas where temperatures fall within the preferred range and adjust fishing tactics accordingly.
  2. Target Transitional Areas: Look for areas where warmer and cooler water masses meet, such as tidal flats, points, channels, and creek mouths. These transitional zones create temperature gradients that attract redfish seeking optimal thermal conditions.
  3. Time Fishing Trips: Plan fishing trips during times of the day when water temperatures are most conducive to redfish activity. For example, early morning and late afternoon periods often offer cooler temperatures that can stimulate feeding behaviors.
  4. Adjust Presentation Techniques: Experiment with different lure presentations, retrieval speeds, and depths to match the activity level of redfish in response to temperature variations. In warmer temperatures, consider using faster retrieves and more aggressive lure actions to trigger strikes.

By understanding the preferred temperature range for redfish and its impact on their behavior and feeding patterns, anglers can adapt their strategies and increase their chances of success when targeting these popular game fish.

Spring and early fall months offer some of the best fishing for bull reds in shallow coastal water. Some of the best inshore fishing for bull reds occurs from September through mid-November as waters cool off and big reds move into shallow water to spawn and feed.


Ideal Salinity Levels for Redfish

Salinity levels play a crucial role in shaping the habitat preferences, distribution, movement, and behavior of redfish (Sciaenops ocellatus). These factors are interconnected and directly influence the overall health and abundance of redfish populations in coastal environments.

Preferred Salinity Levels for Redfish Habitats: Redfish are euryhaline fish, meaning they can tolerate a wide range of salinity levels, but they do exhibit preferences for certain salinity ranges within their habitat. They are commonly found in brackish and saltwater environments where salinity levels typically range from around 5 parts per thousand (ppt) to full oceanic salinity levels of 35 ppt. Ideal habitats for redfish often include estuaries, marshes, tidal creeks, and coastal bays where freshwater from rivers and streams mixes with saltwater from the ocean.

Influence of Salinity on Redfish Distribution and Movement: Salinity levels strongly influence the distribution and movement patterns of redfish. They are often found in areas where salinity levels remain relatively stable or where there are gradients between freshwater and saltwater environments. Redfish may move throughout these habitats in response to changes in salinity, seeking areas that provide optimal conditions for feeding, reproduction, and shelter. Additionally, salinity gradients can serve as navigational cues for redfish during their migrations between different habitats, such as moving from estuaries to nearshore waters.

Effects of Salinity Fluctuations on Redfish Behavior: Fluctuations in salinity levels can have significant effects on redfish behavior. Sudden changes in salinity, such as during heavy rainfall or drought conditions, may prompt redfish to seek out areas with more stable salinity levels to avoid osmotic stress. High salinity levels can also impact the availability of prey species and alter the composition of the aquatic ecosystem, which in turn can influence redfish feeding behaviors and habitat selection.

Moreover, salinity fluctuations can affect the health and reproductive success of redfish populations by influencing spawning behaviors, egg development, and larval survival rates. Redfish are resilient to moderate fluctuations in salinity levels, but prolonged exposure to extreme salinity conditions can have detrimental effects on their overall fitness and abundance.

In summary, salinity levels are a critical factor in determining the distribution, movement, and behavior of redfish in coastal environments. Understanding the preferred salinity ranges for redfish habitats, as well as the effects of salinity fluctuations, is essential for effective fisheries management and conservation efforts aimed at maintaining healthy redfish populations.


Ideal Moon Phase for Redfish


Phases of the Moon
Moon Phases

The ideal moon phase for redfish fishing can vary depending on various factors such as location, weather conditions, and time of year. However, many anglers believe that the best moon phases for catching redfish are the new moon and the full moon.

During the new moon, when the moon is not visible in the sky, the darkness can provide an advantage for anglers targeting redfish. Redfish tend to be more active and feed more aggressively under the cover of darkness. This makes them more likely to strike at bait or lures.

On the other hand, during the full moon, the increased brightness can also stimulate feeding activity in redfish. Some anglers prefer fishing for redfish during the full moon because the increased light can make it easier to spot them in shallow waters, especially at night.

It’s important to note that while the new moon and full moon phases are often considered prime times for redfish fishing, other factors such as tide movement, water temperature, and weather conditions can also influence their behavior. Therefore, it’s essential to consider all these factors when planning a redfish fishing trip. Additionally, local knowledge and experience can be invaluable in determining the best times to target redfish in a specific area.


Ideal Oxygen Levels for Redfish

Importance of Adequate Oxygen Levels for Redfish Survival:

Adequate oxygen levels are crucial for the survival of redfish, as with all aquatic organisms. Oxygen is essential for their respiratory processes, enabling them to extract energy from their food and maintain their metabolic functions. Insufficient oxygen levels can lead to stress, reduced growth rates, and even mortality in redfish populations.

Factors Affecting Oxygen Levels in Redfish Habitats:

Several factors influence oxygen levels in redfish habitats:

  1. Temperature: Warmer water temperatures hold less dissolved oxygen than cooler waters. Therefore, high temperatures, particularly in summer months, can lead to decreased oxygen levels in redfish habitats.
  2. Water Movement: Water movement, such as currents and wave action, helps oxygenate the water by promoting gas exchange at the surface. Areas with stagnant water or poor circulation may experience lower oxygen levels.
  3. Aquatic Vegetation: Healthy aquatic vegetation produces oxygen through photosynthesis during the day. However, at night, plants consume oxygen through respiration, which can lead to localized oxygen depletion in areas with dense vegetation.
  4. Organic Matter Decomposition: The decomposition of organic matter, such as dead plants and algae, consumes oxygen in the water. Excessive organic inputs, often associated with nutrient pollution, can lead to oxygen depletion in redfish habitats.
  5. Pollution: Pollution from agricultural runoff, urban runoff, and industrial discharges can introduce contaminants and nutrients into the water, leading to algal blooms and oxygen depletion through eutrophication.

Signs of Oxygen-Deprived Waters and Their Impact on Redfish Behavior:

Signs of oxygen-deprived waters include:

  1. Fish Gasping at the Surface: Redfish and other fish may exhibit gasping behavior at the water’s surface, attempting to access oxygen-rich water.
  2. Decreased Fish Activity: Redfish may become lethargic or exhibit reduced feeding activity in oxygen-deprived waters as they conserve energy.
  3. Changes in Fish Distribution: Redfish may relocate to areas with higher oxygen levels, such as deeper waters or areas with stronger water movement.
  4. Fish Kills: Severe oxygen depletion can lead to fish kills, where large numbers of redfish and other aquatic species die due to suffocation.

In summary, maintaining adequate oxygen levels is essential for the survival and well-being of redfish populations. Understanding the factors that influence oxygen levels in their habitats and recognizing signs of oxygen depletion can help anglers and conservationists take proactive measures to protect redfish and their aquatic environments.


Ideal Weather and Barometer Pressure for Redfish Fishing


Ideal weather conditions for redfish fishing can vary depending on the specific location and season, but generally, redfish are more active and feed when the weather is stable and comfortable. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Stable Weather: Redfish tend to be more active and easier to catch when the weather is stable. This means minimal fluctuations in temperature, wind, and atmospheric pressure. Rapidly changing weather conditions, such as sudden drops in temperature or approaching storms, can cause redfish to become less active and more difficult to catch.
  2. Moderate Temperature: Redfish are typically more active in moderate temperatures. While they can be caught in a wide range of temperatures, they may be less active during extreme heat or cold. A comfortable temperature range, typically between 60°F and 80°F (15°C to 27°C), is often ideal for redfish activity.
  3. Optimal Barometric Pressure: Many anglers believe that a stable or rising barometric pressure is conducive to good fishing for redfish. High pressure often corresponds with clear, calm weather conditions, which can make redfish more active and easier to locate. However, some anglers have also reported success during periods of falling pressure, particularly if the drop is gradual and not associated with severe weather.
  4. Wind Conditions: Moderate winds can be beneficial for redfish fishing, as they can help stir up the water and create movement that attracts baitfish and stimulates feeding activity in redfish. However, excessively strong winds can make fishing challenging, especially in shallow waters where redfish often feed.

Ultimately, the best weather and barometric pressure for redfish fishing may vary depending on the specific circumstances and the preferences of individual anglers. It’s essential to monitor weather forecasts and plan fishing trips accordingly, taking into account factors such as wind direction, temperature trends, and barometric pressure changes. Additionally, local knowledge and experience can be valuable in determining the most productive fishing conditions for redfish in a particular area.


Ideal Water Clarity for Redfish


Role of Water Clarity in Redfish Feeding Habits and Hunting Strategies:

Water clarity plays a significant role in shaping redfish feeding habits and hunting strategies. Redfish are opportunistic feeders, relying on their keen senses to locate prey efficiently. In clear water conditions, redfish can visually detect prey from a distance, allowing them to hunt more actively and accurately. They may patrol shallow flats, marsh edges, and sandy bottoms, stalking and ambushing prey such as shrimp, crabs, and baitfish.

Disturbing Find In Florida Redfish - Videos from The Weather Channel
Ideal Water Clarity for Redfish

Conversely, in turbid or murky water, redfish rely more heavily on their other senses, such as smell and vibration detection, to locate prey. They may utilize ambush tactics in areas with reduced visibility, such as oyster beds, mangrove roots, and submerged structures, where they can lie in wait for unsuspecting prey to pass by.

How Water Clarity Affects Angler Tactics and Lure Selection:

Water clarity significantly influences angler tactics and lure selection when targeting redfish:

  1. Clear Water Tactics: In clear water conditions, anglers can use sight-fishing techniques, such as spotting fish from a distance and presenting lures or bait with precision and accuracy. Natural-looking lures, such as soft plastic swimbaits, shrimp imitations, and topwater plugs, are effective choices in clear water, as they closely mimic the appearance and behavior of prey.
  2. Turbid Water Tactics: In turbid or stained water conditions, anglers may need to rely more on scent and vibration to attract redfish. Lures with rattles, scent trails, or exaggerated movements can help redfish locate and strike in low-visibility situations. Brightly colored lures or those with contrasting patterns can also improve visibility and increase strike opportunities.

Techniques for Locating Redfish in Varying Water Clarity Conditions:

To locate redfish in varying water clarity conditions, anglers can employ the following techniques:

  1. Use Polarized Sunglasses: Polarized sunglasses can help anglers see through the water’s surface glare and spot redfish, even in clear water conditions. Look for subtle movements, shadows, or dark shapes that indicate the presence of fish.
  2. Focus on Structure: Regardless of water clarity, redfish are often found near structures, such as oyster beds, mangrove roots, sandbars, and grass beds. Target these areas, as they provide cover and foraging opportunities for redfish.
  3. Adjust Depth and Retrieve Speed: In clear water, redfish may be more wary of lures presented directly overhead. Cast lures beyond the target area and retrieves them through the strike zone at a natural pace. In turbid water, redfish may strike more aggressively, so experiment with faster retrieves and erratic movements to trigger strikes.
  4. Pay Attention to Currents: Strong currents can stir up sediment and reduce water clarity, while slack tides may allow sediment to settle, improving visibility. Adjust fishing locations and tactics based on tidal movements to optimize your chances of success.

By understanding how water clarity influences redfish behavior and angler tactics, anglers can adapt their strategies to effectively target redfish in varying environmental conditions, ultimately enhancing their angling experience and success rates.

Ideal Tidal Movement for Redfish Fishing


Tidal movement plays a crucial role in the behavior and distribution of redfish. Redfish are highly attuned to tidal cycles, as tidal movement affects water levels, currents, and the availability of prey in their habitats. Understanding the relationship between redfish and tidal movement is essential for successful angling.

Effects of Incoming and Outgoing Tides on Redfish Behavior:

Fly fishing for redfish in the surf | Dedicated To The Smallest Of Skiffs
Ideal Tidal Movement for Redfish Fishing

Incoming Tide: During an incoming tide, water levels rise, bringing in fresh nutrients and prey from deeper areas. Redfish often move into shallower areas, such as flats, marshes, and estuaries, to feed on baitfish, crabs, and shrimp pushed in by the incoming tide. They may patrol the edges of marsh grass, oyster bars, and mangrove shorelines, taking advantage of the abundance of prey brought in with the rising water.

Outgoing Tide: As the tide begins to recede during an outgoing tide, water levels drop, creating strong currents that flush out baitfish and crustaceans from shallow areas. Redfish may congregate in deeper channels, creek mouths, and holes along the shoreline, where they can ambush prey carried by the outgoing tide. They may also move along the edges of tidal flats, feeding opportunistically on disoriented or stranded prey.

Strategies for Maximizing Angling Success by Leveraging Tidal Movements:

Plan Fishing Trips Around Tidal Phases: Consult tide charts and plan fishing trips during periods of significant tidal movement, such as incoming or outgoing tides. Focus on specific locations, such as flats, channels, and marsh edges, where redfish are likely to congregate during tidal transitions.

Target Transitional Zones: Fish areas where tidal currents intersect, such as points, bends in the shoreline, and tidal creeks. These transitional zones create eddies and current breaks where redfish can conserve energy and ambush prey swept by the tide.

Adjust Presentation Tactics: During incoming tides, present lures or baits with the current flow to simulate natural prey movement. Use lighter jig heads or suspending lures to match the slower water flow. Conversely, during outgoing tides, cast lures against the current or across current seams to entice redfish waiting to ambush prey carried by the tide.

Be Flexible and Observant: Pay close attention to changes in water levels, currents, and baitfish activity during tidal transitions. Adapt your fishing tactics and lure selection based on observed behavior and environmental cues to maximize your chances of success.

By understanding the effects of tidal movement on redfish behavior and employing strategic angling tactics, anglers can effectively leverage tidal cycles to increase their chances of hooking into these prized game fish

You will need to search for tailing redfish in shallow waters. I like to look for tailing redfish in water that is 2 feet deep or less. This occurs daily in many areas where the redfish thrive. The extreme tides that occur in the spring during March and April are great times to sight fish for tailing redfish but any low tide can bring tailing redfish around.


Recap of Key Factors Contributing to Ideal Water Conditions for Redfish:

  1. Temperature: Redfish thrive in water temperatures ranging from approximately 65°F to 85°F, with optimal feeding activity occurring within this range.
  2. Salinity Levels: Redfish prefer brackish to saltwater environments with moderate to high salinity levels, although they can tolerate fluctuations within this range.
  3. Oxygen Levels: Adequate oxygen levels are essential for redfish survival, as they rely on oxygen for respiration and metabolic functions.
  4. Water Clarity: Water clarity influences redfish feeding habits and hunting strategies, with clear water conditions allowing for visual detection of prey and turbid water conditions requiring reliance on other senses.
  5. Tidal Movement: Redfish are attuned to tidal cycles, with incoming and outgoing tides affecting their behavior and habitat use.

Successful redfish angling requires adaptability and keen observation. Anglers must be able to assess environmental conditions, such as water temperature, salinity, oxygen levels, water clarity, and tidal movements, and adjust their fishing tactics accordingly. Being adaptable allows anglers to respond effectively to changing conditions and maximize their chances of success on the water.

Furthermore, observation is key to identifying redfish behavior patterns, locating productive fishing spots, and understanding how redfish respond to different environmental cues. By observing fish activity, baitfish behavior, bird activity, and other environmental indicators, anglers can make informed decisions and increase their likelihood of hooking into redfish.

Anglers are encouraged to explore and experiment with different water conditions to improve their chances of catching redfish. Each fishing trip offers an opportunity to learn and gather valuable insights about redfish behavior and habitat preferences. By exploring diverse habitats, trying out new fishing techniques, and adapting to changing environmental conditions, anglers can expand their knowledge and become more proficient at targeting redfish.

Additionally, anglers should embrace the challenge of fishing in various water conditions, as it offers a chance to develop their skills and deepen their appreciation for the natural environment. Whether fishing in clear, shallow flats or murky, tidal creeks, each experience contributes to the angler’s growth and enjoyment of the sport.

In conclusion, adaptability, observation, and a willingness to explore and experiment are essential traits for successful redfish angling. By understanding the key factors contributing to ideal water conditions, anglers can enhance their fishing experiences and increase their chances of landing the elusive redfish.



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Why do redfish tails in shallow water?




  • Are redfish good to eat?

Yes, redfish are considered excellent table fare, with firm, mild-flavored flesh that lends itself well to various cooking methods such as grilling, frying, or blackening.

  • What regulations should I be aware of when fishing for redfish?

Fishing regulations for redfish vary by location and can include size limits, bag limits, and seasonal closures. Anglers should consult local fishing regulations and adhere to catch limits and size restrictions.

  • What are some tips for catching redfish in different seasons?

In cooler months, redfish may seek out deeper waters and warmer areas. Targeting deep channels, oyster bars, and creek mouths can be productive. In warmer months, focus on shallow flats and marsh edges during incoming tides.



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