Sport fishing is usually defined as when you are fishing for fun or recreation, not for money or necessity/food. Some disagree with it; sighting the act of sport fishing cruel and that there is no need for it. That sentiment also bleeds over into commercial fishing for money.
I think there is room for all of the above when it comes to certain fish. Sport fishing can involve the sport and eating what you catch too. It is not limited to just fun.
If you get excited when going fishing, no matter what the reason or purpose, then this article is for you. Besides, Redfish are awesome!
Redfish – The Basics
If you like sport fishing, redfish will be one fish you will strive to catch. Redfish is a common name for a range of species of fish throughout the world. It is commonly applied to members of the deep-sea genus Sebastes, or the reef dwelling snappers – Lutjanus. It is also applied to the slimeheads/roughies, and the alfonsinos. Don’t let all these names confuse you; basically, they are all different ways of saying, Redfish.
These feisty fish are some of the best fighters on the spectrum – therein lies the sport part of catching redfish. Now, if cooked correctly, they are also a great addition to the menu. I would put this fish in the column that is fun because of the fight, yet a tasty fish as you will want to eat them too. In fact, many restaurants have adopted the redfish as a specialty item. For example, at the famous Redfish Grill on Bourbon Street down in New Orleans, they highlight Redfish – as well it is in the name. They have a Redfish Ravigote that is to die for. Basically, is is a smoked redfish with creole mustard, pickled red onions and cayenne crackers. It is as appetizer to hold near and dear to your heart.
Another is a Wood Grilled Redfish served with Gulf Shrimp, Tasso ham and roasted mushrooms. This one keeps people coming back. Not all fish are good served whole, but at the Redfish Grill, they also serve Whole Redfish with a roasted corn aioli. Just to continue to blow your mind, they also serve a parade of award-winning French Quarter specialties; including classics like Blackened Redfish, Crawfish Etouffee and Jambalaya.
Ok, sorry about the tangent about Redfish Grill. It is just one of those places and thinking about redfish gets me going on a memory escape back when I lived in New Orleans. Back to the redfish itself.
Young redfish, or red drum as they are often called, feed in the shallows on clams, crabs, mussels and shrimp. Red drums are an inshore species until they grow to roughly 30 inches or about 4 years old. Once this size, they migrate to join the near-shore population.
Spawning occurs from August to November in near-shore waters. Tragically, sudden cold snaps may kill red drums in shallow, inshore water as they feed on crustaceans, fish and mollusks.
The fish gets its common name from the copper-bronze, large scales on their body; being darker in cloudy water and lighter in clear waters. The most distinguishing feature is a dark spot at the top of the base of the tail. When fishing, however, the most recognizable feature is the tail disturbing the water in the calm shallows, frequently breaking the surface. The sight of a dozen or more redfish tailing is enough to set the adrenaline coursing through the veins of the most hardened sportsman.
Catching redfish is like all fishing; you have to be in the right place, at the right time, having the right bait and tackle.
The Correct Rod
A fishing rods strength or lifting power is determined by its action. A light action rod has low strength, making it ideal for casting light lures and fighting smaller fish. Whereas a heavy action rod is much stronger, and therefore suitable for fighting big brutes like Giant Mekong Catfish or a nice Largemouth Bass.
Most rod manufactures offer rods varying from Light to Heavy; however, the extreme classes, Ultra-light and Extra-heavy, do exist. For redfish, use a light, medium action rod because you could end up doing a lot of casting before you finally lure your trophy specimen onto the hook.
Use the lightest line with which you feel comfortable. Just remember to set the drag accurately – the pros will actually use a scale and set it to sixty percent of nominal breaking strain. Here is a list showing the most commonly used line diameters and their average relative breaking strains.
The right time is easy, fish the feeding grounds on the flats and oyster bars on the rising tide until just after the tide turns; then fish the hiding places in the troughs and sloughs.
The most reliable spots are on the edge of the mangroves close to deep water. This gives the combination of a great feeding spot with an easy escape route when threatened. If they feel comfortable, they will be easier to catch – hopefully.
Bait for Redfish
As far as bait is concerned, if you are fishing for the redfish, use live bait. Live animals such as mealworms, red worms, night crawlers, leeches, maggots, crayfish, reptiles, amphibians and insects may be used as bait on all waters not restricted to artificial flies and lures. Shrimp and crabs are great to use. Toss your bait or lure as close to the mangroves as you dare, let it sink for a few seconds, then retrieve slowly.
Redfish tend to wave their tails slowly when feeding. When the strike comes, you won’t miss it, and the fish will do all the work of setting the hook. Your job will be to get the fish away from the mangroves and then to enjoy the fight of your life. This is when the challenge of light tackle fishing will tax your skill and fill you with pride.
Redfish Amandine with Brabant Potatoes
1−1/2 lbs Idaho Potatoes; Peeled, Medium Diced
4 Redfish Fillets; (6−ounce)
2 Cups White Flour
2 Eggs; Beaten with 2 Tbsp Milk & 8 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Shallots, Minced
1 Tsp Garlic, Chopped
1/2 Cup Fine Bread Crumbs
1 Cup Almonds, Sliced
1/2 Lemon, Juiced
1 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
1 Cup Parsley Sprigs; (packed)
- Preheat the fryer to 365 degrees and fry the potatoes until golden brown.
- Season the fillets and flour with Creole seasoning.
- Dredge the fillets in the seasoned flour, coating completely.
- Dip each fillet in the egg wash, letting the excess drip off.
- Dredge the fillets back into the seasoned flour, coating completely.
- In a large cast iron skillet, over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter. When the butter is hot, pan−fry the fillets until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
- Remove the potatoes from the fryer and drain on paper towels. Season with salt.
- In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.
- Add the shallots, garlic and potatoes to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 2 minutes.
- Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the potatoes and continue to sauté for 1 minute.
- Remove the fish from the pan and drain on paper towels. Wipe out the skillet.
- Melt the remaining butter and add the almonds. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 1 minute or until the almonds are golden brown.
- Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice and chopped parsley.
- Fry the parsley sprigs until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
- To serve, spoon the potatoes in the center of each plate. Lay the fish on top of the potatoes. Spoon the almond butter sauce over the fish. Garnish with fried parsley.
Yield: 4 servings
Chef Bobby is a Chef and Cookbook Author. He loves to share his knowledge of cooking and handling of fish with our community.