The Red drum are known by many names along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts: redfish, channel bass, spottail bass, puppy drum, and others. One thing is for sure, wherever they roam red drum are one of the most sought after inshore saltwater fish and they are especially targeted in the fall when they are in the move and aggressive.
Red drum range from Virginia down to Texas and are an important sport fish, protected by regulations in every state where they occur. In many states, they are governed by slot limits. Make sure you know the rules before you keep one.
When fishing for fall red drum keep these tips in mind.
Red drum love mullet
Most anglers are familiar with the idea of fishing for red drum in the surf with cut mullet. What they may not know is that it is just as effective (if not more) to target red drum with live finger mullet. Red drum in the fall are cruising the surf and the waterways looking for roaming mullet schools, and if you can cast net yourself some frisky finger mullet you have a great chance of drawing a bite from a red drum.
Fish a finger mullet on a fishfinder rig for red drum, using only enough weight (an egg sinker) to get your bait to the bottom. Hook the finger mullet through the eyes and they’ll live longer. When fishing live bait for red drum don’t worry about anchoring your rig to the bottom. Cast out, move it around…just go slow and cover as much ground as possible. The red drum will tell you where they are.
Red drum get up early and stay up late
Red drum are a nocturnal fish that will feed throughout the night under the fall moon. You will often find serious drum anglers showing up for action only after the sun goes down. They also are prone to stage a bite just around sunrise, when schools of mullet and other baitfish are particularly active.
It’s often more profitable to fish your drum hole early in the morning and then return as the sun goes down and let others soak there baits during the heat of the day. Tides play a role in this, and an outgoing tide in the morning will often send red drum into a feeding frenzy as minnows and shrimp are forced out of their hiding places.
Don’t forget about lures
Red drum will readily bite artificial lures in the fall. Jigs with soft plastic and synthetic tails (like the Gulp line of lures) as well as hard plugs that imitate mullet and pogies will work. Cast out and work your lure slowly for red drum, as they won’t chase your offering like bluefish or speckled trout might. Just keep up a slow retrieve with a few flashes to get their attention. The scented baits of the Gulp line are terrific at drawing in red drum since drum feed equally by scent and sight. You shouldn’t need a leader in these situations as red drum won’t bite you off.