How to Fish for Redfish in Texas: The Complete Guide for 2024

Jan 11, 2024 | 6 minute read
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Few inshore fish are as beloved as Redfish – and for good reason. They tick all the boxes. You’ll get a great fight and a great meal out of these year-round opponents. But why go after Texas Redfish? Well, there are a few things. Firstly, the state consistently boasts impressive numbers of this species. Secondly, “everything’s bigger in Texas,” right? That includes these guys. 

Texas’ nutrient-rich waters are perfect for fostering big Redfish year-round. That’s right, you can hook into Bull Reds year-round! These factors alone are enough to have anglers heading into Texan backwaters in droves, but that’s not the only place you’ll find them. From tailing fish in the marshes to chasing them in the surf, Redfish are everywhere.

In this guide, we’ll cover Redfish seasonality and how to best hook them in Texas, as well as a few locations you shouldn’t miss out on. You’ll also find information on important rules and regulations to keep in mind. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

When is Redfish season in Texas?

A group of anglers aboard a charter boat holding large Redfish.

One of the greatest things about Redfish are their year-round availability. Sizes, numbers, and where you’ll find them, however, will depend on the season. Overall, fall is considered the best time to fish. The main reason for this is the annual migration of spawning big Bull Redfish. They’ll head out of Texas’ bay systems and into the Gulf, so make your way to the coast.

Fall isn’t the only time to get your hands on big fish, though. Like we mentioned earlier, Texas boasts excellent Redfish numbers. So much so, that Bulls can be hooked year-round. Those of you more interested in a meal than a battle, though, should head out in the spring. This is when the action in the marshes kicks off and when there are plenty of eating-sized fish available.

The summer months are peak season for Texas fishing in general, and that includes Redfish. You’ll find a great mix of big fish battling for bait, as well as slot Redfish to take home for dinner. The fish will be in very shallow waters during this time so your best bet is to head to the flats.

If you’re winter fishing for Redfish, where you’ll go will depend heavily on the weather. On warm sunny days, the fish will stick to the flats. If it’s colder and overcast, you may need to head into deeper waters.

How can I catch Texas Redfish?

A Redfish being held up with the marshland in the background.

There are a few different ways to get your hands on Texas Redfish. Since these fish are an inshore species, you can cast for them from the shore, a pier, or a charter boat. Below, we’ll dive into some techniques you can try next time you’re on the water. But before you head out, here are a couple of things to look out for that will make your pursuit easier. 

Rule number one: Follow the birds. Gulls will be working those same schools of shrimp and menhaden that the Redfish are also after. Look out for Speckled Trout, too. These fish often travel together based on their similar diet. Our last tip? If there are any slicks or mud trails, there’s a good chance hungry Redfish are nearby, too.

Spinning

Anglers on a charter boat trip smiling and holding a Redfish.

Sometimes, it’s best to go back to the basics. Spin fishing is one of the best ways to get you on Redfish. What’s more, it’s a technique that’s suitable for both beginners and pros. You won’t need a complicated setup, either. Choose a moderate to fast-action rod and pair it with a 10–30 lb test line, depending on the size of the fish you’re targeting.

Redfish are voracious eaters that will strike at just about any bait – so long as it’s presented right. If you’re using live bait, mimic what the Redfish are eating anyway. That means mainly shrimp and menhaden. If you’re looking for a reliable artificial, a soft-plastic shrimp with a weight is a great choice. Sometimes the waters will be murky, in which case a shiny gold or bronze spoon should lure the fish out.

Fly Fishing

An angler, pictured from behind, fly fishing in Galveston Texas.

Want to take it up a notch? Try fly fishing for Redfish. These fish are a great target for both beginners and pros. They’re easier to hook than Tarpon or Bonefish, which is great if you’re just starting out. At the same time, hooking a Bull Redfish on the fly is a challenge for even the most experienced fishers among you.

You can be flexible when choosing a fly pattern, but bear in mind that Texas’ inshore waters can be murky. Make sure your fly is big enough for your fish to see, but small enough to fit in its mouth. Redfish don’t make long runs but they are strong. As such, your focus should mainly be on casting and presentation. You want your fly to land right in front of your target’s mouth.

Where can I catch Texas Redfish?

Redfish are one of the most common catches in Texas. They also inhabit varying habitats at different points in the year. This means that you’ll find them in waters across the state. We could only do justice to a few locations below, but they’re a great starting point for your next adventure.

A waterfront community on the Texas Gulf coast near Galveston .
  • Galveston: Chase Reds along the grassy shorelines and in the marshes, or check out the action in deeper sections of the Intracoastal Waterway once the fish start to migrate. This is a great spot for charter boat anglers since the best action takes place in waters 6–12 feet deep. 
  • Lower Laguna Madre: This estuary measures 59 miles north to south and 7 miles east to west. Its high salinity levels make it one of the few bodies of water like this in the world. Head to its shallow, white-sand flats for incredible Redfish action. 
  • Port Mansfield: Located between Matagorda and Espiritu Santo Bays, and close to both Aransas and San Antonio, Port Mansfield offers access to prime Redfish waters. Its oyster beds, grass flats, and mud flats are packed with bait fish, making Redfish year-round residents.
  • South Padre Island: This Redfish hotspot is also located on Texas’ southern coast. You’ll find this species here year-round, with the really big fish showing up in the summer and early fall. Head to Holly Beach or the jetties for your best shot.
  • Sabine Pass: This is your spot for summer Redfish. Check out the beaches along the pass and follow the big schools of bait fish to secure your catch. Whether you’re fishing from the beach, the pier, or a boat, Sabine Pass delivers.

Anything else I need to know?

An infographic displaying the text "Texas Redfish Fishing Regulations" with the Texas flag on a dark blue background.

Last but not least, there are a few rules and regulations you should keep in mind. These include fishing licenses and tags, as well as size and bag limits. We’ll dive further into these below.

Licenses and Tags

All anglers over the age of 17 need a valid fishing license to fish in Texas. This applies to anglers fishing from a boat, from a pier, or on foot. Depending on the kind of license you have, you might also need to purchase something called a Saltwater Fishing Endorsement. For more detailed information on license types, check out this article

The Saltwater Fishing Endorsement also comes with a Red Drum Tag. This allows you to keep one fish measuring over 28 inches per year.

Texas Redfish Limits

You can keep a maximum of 3 fish per angler per day. All of the fish you choose to keep must measure between 20–28 inches. As we mentioned above, you can keep one Redfish measuring over 28 inches per year with your Red Drum Tag. Rules and regulations related to size and harvesting can change regularly. To make sure you’re fishing within the rules, consult the TPWD before heading out.

Texas Redfish: An Inshore Favorite

A smiling angler holding a large Redfish aboard a charter boat.

The Redfish’s reputation as one of America’s favorite inshore game fish is well deserved. And there are few places better than Texas to fish for them. The size and numbers of Redfish here keep anglers coming back year after year. From the grassy marshes to tidal lakes, beaches, and the Gulf itself, you’ll have the opportunity to explore a myriad of landscapes in search of both big and delicious fish.

Tell us about your experiences of going after Texas Redfish in the comments! Where are your top spots? What techniques do you prefer? We love to hear from you!

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Iva’s been traveling for as long as she can remember. The places that she gravitates to most are always by the water, so writing about fishing comes naturally to her. Come summertime, catch her on the shores of Lake Ontario in her hometown of Toronto.

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