Natural Baits for Redfish

Using natural bait is one of the most effective methods for catching redfish, particularly in murky waters where their sense of smell is the primary tool for catching food.

Offshore redfish catch.

The Best Baits for Redfish

The type of natural baits to use when targeting redfish differs depending on the habitat fished. Redfish will rely on sight when water clarity is good, but rely more on their sense of smell in murky estuarine waters. Here, we list some of the best natural baits, and where to use them for catching reds.

Blue Crabs

One of the primary prey items found in the guts of redfish is the blue crab. Presenting a small Blue crab, or half of a medium-sized crab, is an irresistible temptation for a hungry redfish.

Blue crabs for catching redfish.

Use the whole crab when water clarity is good, but break the crabs in half when fishing murky conditions to obtain the scent to bring them in.


Mullet, either live or as cut bait, is one of the best natural baits for catching redfish. Finger mullet can be found in some estuaries year round, but otherwise travel in large schools migrating south in the fall, and back north in the spring, searching for their desired water temperature. Mullet can be found in just about every habitat type imaginable, ranging from completely freshwater to the open ocean.


Unfortunately for the shrimp, just about everything in the water eats it. Redfish will readily consume a live or freshly frozen shrimp. One technique to get scent into the water is to pinch off the tail or head of the shrimp to attract more bites. The problem with using shrimp in the estuaries is that since everything eats it, you run the risk of losing it fast to small bait stealers such as pinfish and juvenile Mangrove snappers.

Catch and release redfish.

Other baits that Catch Redfish

Besides the baits listed above, there are a number of natural baits that will work fairly well for redfish. These include pinfish, grunts, scaled sardines, ladyfish, clams and squid. Clams and squid work particularly well in those extremely murky waters, while the fishes tend to work better with better water quality.

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