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The Running of the Bulls

Red Drum Spawning on the IRL

Thursday June 21, 2018

Every September large spawning redfish over twenty pounds commonly called "Bull Reds" congregate to spawn in the northern end of the Indian River Lagoon near Scottsmore and north of the Titusville, Florida. Finding and fishing these large schools of fish require local knowledge of the waterway, understanding what to look for and a keen eye as redfish schools can be difficult to find to the untrained angler.

During the remainder of the year bull reds can be caught with less consistency in and around the IRL, and anglers must always remember that in Florida... redfish over 27 inches must be released safely as they are part of the breeding stock protected for the future of this tremendous Florida gamefish.

Schools of Large Redfish

It's not uncommon to find roaming schools of large redfish in the Indian River Lagoon during the peak spawning season, however they can also be found during other times of the year on a less frequent basis. It's exciting for a fishing guide to stumble onto or find a secret stash of schooling reds throughout the year. Typically schooling redfish will be receptive to anglers and are often very aggressively feeding. While live or "natural" baits are eagerly accepted, artificials and fly are usually gobbled up too.

The Florida record redfish is just over 50 pounds, but many anglers have reeled in larger without the ability to weigh or properly record the fish for inclusion in the record books. An all tackle IGFA redfish was captured on the outer banks of North Carolina that exceeded 90 pounds and has remained the record for several years. Large redfish or red drum are often called channel bass in different areas of the southeast or possibly even puppy drum when they are smaller. When redfish grow to around 27 inches they start to show up in schools during the late summer and fall in the Indian River Lagoon and continue to congregate until the spawn is over (typically in October). If you're looking to catch larger schooling redfish the later part of August until mid and late October can be a fantastic time pursue giant redfish in the Indian River Lagoon.

Sight Fishing For Giant Redfish

For the most part you take what you get when it comes to sight fishing unless your Indian River guide has a stash of over-sized redfish somewhere on the Indian River Lagoon. Larger redfish can be seen in the fall and winter occasionally swimming solo, but most monster fish prefer to stay in the company of other's their size. Both schooling and single redfish can be coaxed into a sight fish method, but it often depends on water clarity and wind conditions paired with cooperating fish.

Sighting large reds in the shallow water may be easy when they're abundant, but presenting a bait to a lone redfish can often be tricky for the unskilled angler that hasn't boned up on his casting skills. Typically a lone red will be wandering and wary of movements both above and below the waterline. Quick decisive and accurate cast are a must when presenting artificials and natural baits to large shallow water redfish.

Where is the Indian River Lagoon

Technically the IRL or Indian River is part of the Intracoastal waterway on the eastern seaboard of the United States. The name of this body of water changes as you traverse the waterway from Biscayne Bay in Miami and northward toward the Chesapeake Bay or Montawk New Jersey.

East Central Florida's prominent Indian River Lagoon sections are called the Mosquito Lagoon, Banana River Lagoon and of course the Indian River Lagoon as it heads south toward Sebastian Inlet and Fort Pierce with the North Boundary skirting a small town called Scottsmoore and Mims. Fishing information on the Indian River can be found at the links above.

Fly Fishing for Bull Reds

Grab your 8 weight fly rod and a some clousers and you have a wonderful combination that will catch about any sized red in the central Florida lagoons. Most anglers will use a weight forward floating or intermediate sinking line with a 10 lb. tippet. Fly fishing for big brooding redfish is an adventure for and challenge for any angler.

If you're looking go catch monster redfish on your next vacation... look to an expert Indian River Lagoon redfish guide on east Central Florida's coastline.

Known as a fish that will not quit, redfish can be absolute brutes. And as such, they have become one of the most sought after fish in the shallows of Florida. Since their protection in the mid 1980's redfish numbers have proliferated and are especially abundant and large on the east central Florida coastline. Redfish have a coppery bronze color with a tinge of red, color will vary depending on water clarity. Normally redfish have one spot on the base of their tails but often there are several or many spots. Take a look at these spots caught by a lagooner fisherman. [LOOK]

East Central Florida boast some of the best inshore and estuary fishing for redfish in the world. Our redfish are renown for both quantity and quality. They are found in the lagoon systems all around the coast of Florida and some are even found offshore. This species is often found feeding in less than one foot of water while foraging for crustaceans, fish and small mollusk. Often they are in such shallow water that you can see their tales and backs protruding from the water, hence the term "tailing redfish".

Best Redfish Locations

Mosquito Lagoon
Sightfishing Mecca from Oakhill to Playlinda Beach. World famous fishing waters in the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge in Northern Brevard County. Mosquito Lagoon can have crystal clear water allowing flyfisherman and light-tackle fisherman great opportunities to sight fish for tailing redfish and other species.

Northern Indian River Lagoon
Banana Creek, Titusville, Carbide Flats, Haulover Canal, Dummit Cove, Scottsmore are only some of the known redfish haunts in this area.

The Banana River has a NMZ or No Motorized Zone in the very north adjacent to Canaveral Airforce Base and NASA property. This are can be extremely productive for big schooling redfish as they are not subjected to motor boats and fishing pressure.


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


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

State Record

51 lbs., 8 ozs.

Giant Bull Reds Spwaning on the IRL

Reviewed by Captain Richard Bradley on Last modified: April 09 2018 12:44:15.

Published by: Captain of Lagooner Fishing Guides©

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June - 2018 Fishing Report

Fishing Forecast

June - 2018 Fishing Forecast

June of 2018 is looking to be a hot summer with hot fishing off of East Central Florida near Cocoa Beach. Orlando visitors should anticipate the warm weather and great fishing that coastal and offshore fishing provides in the warm Atlantic Ocean this time of year. Last year in 2017 we saw many tarpon exceeding 100 pounds caught off the Brevard County beaches along with a good amount of sharks, king mackerel and really big Jack Crevelle that kept things interesting. Looking forward to this year's forecast on the Space Coast remember that the coastal waters along the Atlantic seaboard and Ocean will probably be the most productive fishing during the month of June and as we look in to August the ocean will look to be the most inviting destination for anglers in the heat of the Central Florida Summer.

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