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Indian River Redfish

Catching The Largest Channel Bass During the Late Summer and Fall Spawn

Saturday January 20, 2018

Starting in August and going thru September you'll find large schools of redfish or channel bass congregating for their spawn in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL). Typically the fish will start their pre spawn in early August going towards the beginning of September for a full blown spawn. Other parts of the Lagoon toward south Brevard County and into the Banana River the fish are typically spawn a couple of weeks later than the IRL schools and we speculate it's because of the lack of tidal flow and warmer water temperatures delaying the big event.

A big redfish in this part of Florida is over 30 pounds but there are some monsters that exceed the fifty pound mark and approach sixty. It's no secret to most of the fishing guides in the area when this event occurs and most guides anticipate and observe the event as it unfolds. Large redfish will start grouping into breeding pods and over time the schools will accrue larger numbers until they obtain more than 100 or more fish and then the games begin.

"If you want to catch your biggest redfish, August is a great month to do that in the Indian River Lagoon when the big breeders spawn" explains Captain Richard Bradley

Over the years we've observed redfish spawning habits and believe much of their recent behaviors are dictated by fishing pressure. It's not uncommon to see several boats fishing a school of fish aggressively with electric motors and yelling anglers. In deep waters of the ocean, this behavior is often ignored by fish but in one to four foot of water it's not tolerated well by the breeding fish and after an initial fish or two are pulled from the school they often move away from the activity and towards deeper waters. Moving redfish can be difficult to present lures and baits to for advanced anglers, novice anglers have little chance of making the presentation in front spooked redfish schools. The secret to catching several redfish from a breeding school is stealth from both the guide and the angler. Keeping the electric motor on very low speeds with little variation helps, but a push pole might work better until the fish are moving and then the old Minn Kota is helpful.

I've been fishing for big breeding redfish in the Indian River Lagoon for almost 30 years and it amazes me when I watch these schools start to congregate and breed. Years ago the redfish got pounded by the gill netting industry and their numbers were in decline, today it's a healthy thriving population and each year tends to get better with management from the Florida Wildlife Commission and responsible anglers.

If you want to go catch a big redfish during the August - September spawn give me a call and you'll have a blast watching and catching fish from these remarkable schools of monster sized redfish in the shallow water grass flats near my home. If you happen to catch an oversized redfish during this spawn please safely release so they may return to their normal habit and environment and continue with their mating activities. Big spawning redfish have no table value and should not be considered for their meat when they are this size. The stocks of these breeders assures there will be plenty of channel bass in the years to come.

Tight Lines,
Captain Richard Bradley
Lagooner Fishing Guide

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.

Channel Bass or Red Fish Spawning on the Indian River Lagoon

Reviewed by Captain Richard Bradley on Last modified: November 03 2016 20:26:54.

Published by: Captain of Lagooner Fishing Guides©

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Fishing Reports

January - 2018 Fishing Report

The Banana River comes alive during the colder months of year and January is the peak season for deep hole trout, redfish and juvenile black drum. We've been fishing the deeper canals and slews with success during the cold fronts when the water is cold and also catching some great sized fish on the flats adjacent to these holes. Look for the Banana River to improve as the winter gets colder and the fish transition to their winter haunts in pursuit of cold, stable water. Look for mature fish to seek warmth on the shallow shorelines nearby.

Fishing Forecast

January - 2018 Fishing Forecast

Is it going to be an Indian Summer this January or possibly a deep freeze Polar Vortex? These are the questions that all fishing guides want to know. Depending on how this winter plays out with temperatures, winds and other conditions will dictate how our fishing will pan out in January. Unless the water is churned up by high winds, January will produce some of the cleanest and clearest water of the year in Central Florida as colder water kills of plankton life in the lagoons and mild northeast winds often push in clearer water in the ocean. Look for great inshore fishing in the Mosquito Lagoon and Northern end of the Indian River toward Titusville. If the winds and water are all frothed up it can be a crap shoot for fishing in almost every inshore locations and will shutdown all offshore fishing due to small craft warnings and safety warnings. However, between fronts, look for some of the best fishing of the year in January both inshore and offshore in Central Florida.

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Lagooner Fishing Guides
Cocoa Beach's premier saltwater fishing guide with over 25 years of charter fishing experience in his native waters.
Telephone: 321-868-4953

204 Garfield Avenue
Cocoa Beach, FL

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Inshore and Offshore Charter Fishing near Orlando and Cocoa Beach, Florida. Catch redfish, sea trout, tarpon, snook and many other saltwater gamefish aboard the world famous Lagooner flats fishing boat with renowned Captain Richard Bradley.

Captain Richard worked hard to put fish in the boat. We were able to bring in a few big Reds and some trout, and a couple keepers to take home for dinner. It's always the hope to be able to catch lots of fish, but fishing is fishing and there are no guarantees; the time of the year we travel to Florida also has an impact on our fshing success. This last trip out with Captain Richard my wife came along and thorougly enjoyed the experience and catching the big Reds. She is looking forward to our next trip to Florida and another fishing trip with Captain Richard.
about Lagooner Fishing Charters on January 12, 2015

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