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At what temperature do red drum start to arrive in back waters. It is my understanding they school up inside and in the surf zones during the winter and winter/spring transition. I'm wondering what temp makes them take up residency in the back waters for the spring/summer & fall.
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Good question, but i don't have a pinpoint answer. The backwaters and creeks are also considered "inside" have been on fire for months. Red drum are estuarine fish, therefore you can find some number of them hanging in the creeks and backwaters for the majority of the year, water temperature aside. "Juvenile" red drum tend to stay in the marsh/creeks until they mature, regardless of water temperature, then they join the schooling population. Drum that survive make it to the adult population, which is the citation-class fish known as "old drum", and this is the famed population of much larger fish that moves inshore to spawn in the pamlico sound in mid-summer to early fall. They start to move in and spawn as water temps approach 75 degrees. These are the large reds you hear about being caught at nearshore wrecks also, and you will soon see multiple reports of them being caught inshore as they move in.
So while water temps are a definite trigger for the spawning of adult red drum, it does not seem to influence redfish migration within the coastal creeks and backwaters themselves, as much as other species. If anything, salinity changes and bait availability will drive the fish from the upper estuary to the lower estuary, or to a creek or marshy area just down the road. You can find drum in creeks and backwaters pretty much year-round. The concentration and quality of fish can vary greatly from day to day, but they are shallow marsh fish by design, and that is where they prefer to live for the most part. As long as suitable habitat and bait are present, they are there. Red drum are much more tolerant to water temperature changes as compared to speckled trout, who have a tendency to turn off or completely vacate an area after a temp change. The biggest seasonal difference is the concentration of fish. In the cold months, they school up tighter. In the warmer months, they are more scattered, but larger fish will start to show. So if you are waiting for a certain water temperature to find a redfish in the backwaters/marsh/creeks, the time is yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
 

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well written and insightful...
 
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Found schools of slot reds in the back of marina yesterday at low tide. I threw everything in the tackle box, not a single take. Vudu shrimp, gulp mullet, shrimp. Spooked at some casts, approached bait, no take. Was cool watching them cruise around though.
 

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Great summary by ******. Right on the money.
 

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They are always around inshore. I have to disagree with the hot weather school size though, the schools can become massive in the hot summer. The slot fish that spent the winter in the suds and on the shoals are making their way inshore right now.
 
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