Redfish, which travel in large schools for breeding purposes, prefer a diet of finger mullet, shrimp or crab. They are bottom-feeders, relying heavily on their sense of smell to catch prey. In fact, smell, sound and sight all help this fish find food -- and redfish eat a lot. High rates of consumption fuel their rapid growth. Redfish can be 12 inches long by the end of their first year. [source: Florida Outdoors]
Unlike live bait tossed into grass or mangroves to lure the redfish out, cut bait won't swim away. This gives the angler a major advantage, as the scent of cut bait will entice the redfish out of its protective cover. Two- to 4-inch mullets (also known as "finger mullets") are the easiest cut bait to find. Other cut bait favorites include menhaden, spots and pinfish. A nice alternative is a mantis shrimp, or "shrimp mammy/mammie." If you're wondering what a shrimp mammy looks like, picture a praying mantis/mini-lobster (one that could fit in the palm of your hand) hybrid. Mantis shrimp can be purchased from commercial shrimp trawlers. [source: McNally]
Leaving the rod in the holder with a loosened drag is key to using cut bait. However, if using a circle hook, setting the hook is unnecessary. Instead, merely lift the tip of the rod and wind in all the slack. [source: Kibler] The only occasion not to use cut bait -- or tossed live bait, for that matter -- is when diving birds are around. Gulls and terns are equally interested in catching redfish and will grab them first. [source: Katsarelis]
Although some anglers enjoy catching redfish by wading in the surf or in shallow, reed-filled water (a favorite of the species), many others prefer to fish from a boat. Trolling is the most effective approach, especially using a flat-bottomed boat. Read on to find out why trolling is a preferred method.