The timing of the redfish spawn depends on numerous factors. Location plays a role, as it does in all redfish fishing. Mature redfish follow baitfish populations up and down the Atlantic coast and through the Gulf of Mexico.
Much of the movement of fish populations is due to water temperature. In spring, schools of baitfish move up the Atlantic coast, and the redfish follow, eating all the way.
In the Texas part of the Gulf, the redfish spawn takes place in late winter or early spring. Farther north, the spawn might happen in August or September -- hurricane season. In the Indian River lagoon in Florida -- one of the few inshore spawning grounds -- the spawn typically happens in late fall.
Many environmental factors affect not just the timing but also the size of the spawn. Factors to consider include
- Water temperature - The water must typically be at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit for the spawn to occur.
- Sea level - Redfish spawn in relatively deep water (60 to 100 feet). Certain conditions, such as spring floods and hurricanes, can affect sea level dramatically enough to change fish behavior.
- Tide - Inshore fishermen may be used to waiting for a high outgoing tide to catch redfish. But at spawning time, redfish usually wait for an incoming tide, which carries the eggs into bays and other protective inshore waters.
- Number of cold fronts - This affects both water temperature and population movement in complicated ways. It can also affect the size of a given year-class (the fish spawned in that year). For the most accurate picture, it's best to check with your state's wildlife, fishing and weather bureaus about recent conditions and their likely effects.
The availability of food for the larvae and juvenile fish, predator populations, river discharge -- which can be affected by recent rain -- and water salinity also make an impact. [Source: Louisiana Fisheries]
Once you've considered timing, it's all about location, location, location. On the next page, you'll learn where redfish spawn, and why.