Monday April 24, 2017  

How To Release Big Redfish

A Guide To Handling Catch & Release Red Drum

Banana River Redfish, Jacks and Fishing Guides.After an hour fight on light tackle in shallow warm water most anglers are pretty worn out, imagine how worn out the fish is!  It's important that anglers follow some simple guidelines to insure a successful release of these awesome southern gamefish.

Warmer Water
Stresses Fish

In normal conditions, redfish are very hearty fish that survive being caught and released. However when water temperatures get in the mid 80's and above... anglers need to take more precautions than normal. Use heavier tackle if possible on some of the larger redfish making the fight shorter during the warmer seasons if possible. It's during these warmer months that anglers need to avoid landing any redfish that is not going on the dinner table. Keeping the fish in the water may avoid that last bit of stress to put a fish over-the-edge.

It's not uncommon to spend over fifteen minutes nursing a redfish back to health after an extended fight in warm water. If you follow a few proven methods that many of my guide friends use, you'll have a clean release and feel great about the capture of these giant fish on Florida's coastline and the extra efforts will pay off.

Captain Richard Bradley has a few tips on releasing redfish to be caught again.

  1. Don't land a big redfish, keep them in the water. If possible, get in the water for your photographs and don't lift the fish totally out of the water. A big redfish has alot of weight in the internal organs, keeping them in the water helps them survive.
  2. Grab their tails and move slowly back and forth until the fish is motivated to swim on their own. This could take some time for larger fish in warm water.
  3. Keep handling to the minimum. Try to not rub the slime off the fish it protects them.
  4. If possible, use higher pound test in warmer water to shorten the fight-time.
  5. Don't stick your hands in their gills.
  6. If the hook is in the throat of the fish or "gut hooked", cut the line and don't play doctor. (Don't use Stainless Steel hooks).

"There is nothing more satisfying to an angler than when he successfully releases a healthy fish back into it's habitat... conversly there's nothing more dissapointing when one does not survive and you're forced to watch it float away..."
- explains Captain Richard

Catch and Release Tackle

Whether you are using artificials, live or dead bait consider using the lightest hook possible and avoid the use of stainless steel tackle whenever possible. In saltwater, light wire hooks will work great on twelve pound test and under. Remember that if a fish swallows a hook or lure, it's often more benificial to the fish simply to leave hooks alone rather than attempt surgery. We've seen many healthy fish with rusty hooks protruding from their anus as they're bodies have digested and rejected the foreiegn object, much as our bodies push out a splinter.

As your angling skills advance, consider using barbless hooks. Barbless hooks work well if the angler understands how to keep pressure on the fish avoiding letting the fish throw the hook. This works well on redfish as they are not aerobatic and are not rapid head shakers. Snook, tarpon and are not great candidates for the barbless tackle but the steady fighting redfish is.

Fill Out Form for Charter Fishing Information

Request information about a fishing trip with a Lagooner Fishing Guide by filling out and submitting this form or simply calling (321) 868-4953

To find out more information about taking a fishing guide service on the Banana River Lagoon, please at (321) 868-4953 or fill out the request form above and Lagooner Fishing Guides will be prompt to respond.


View Banana River Lagoon in a larger map

Florida Redfish Regulations

Not less than 18" or more than 27" and only 1 fish per harvester per day.

Red Drum Links & Information

Orlando Redfish
Sebastian Redfish
Mosquito Lagoon Redfish
Banana River Guide Service
Indian River Redfish Guide
Releasing Redfish
Indian River Redfish


Florida Redfish Record
51 lbs., 8 ozs.

Purchase a Hook Remover or
Fishing Pliers.

We did a quick search on Google and found a link to several different types of hook removers. In saltwater, you might consider using a stainless steel variety of hook remover as they'll last in the boat longer and be in good shape when you go to use them.

We use donmar fishing pliers becaue they last forever and are great for extracting exposed hooks. A decent pair of fishing pliers is a must.

Hook Remover on Google

Fishing Pliers on Google

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