Kayak Fishing for Bull Reds, Red Snapper and Offshore Fish [With Brandon Barton]


Do you want to catch monster fish from your kayak?

Want to know how to use your kayak to catch bull redfish, mahi-mahi, cobia, red snapper and more?

Kayak fishing has exploded in the last decade and many anglers are pushing the limits on what you can catch from a paddle vessel. With today’s gear, people use kayaks to catch just about anything — from tarpon and redfish to sailfish and tuna.

To shed some light on how to chase monsters on your kayak, we decided to talk to Brandon Barton of Emerald Waters Kayak Charters.

Captain Brandon Barton

Kayak Fishing for Redfish

Brandon grew up in Central North Carolina. He did a little bit of fishing for bass and bream during his childhood but was never really into it.

It wasn’t until he moved to Pensacola, Florida about 15 years that he got into fishing. He got an intro to saltwater fishing by wading the grass flats in the Panhandle for redfish and trout.

He says he absolutely fell in love with the sport when he went on a boat and caught his first bull redfish. From there he was hooked and really started to find passion in fishing.

During his first spring in Florida, he decided he wanted to catch a cobia — which have a huge migration off the beaches of the Florida Panhandle every year.

He heard that people catch cobia off the end of the local pier by waiting for the cobia to come by and sight-casting lures to them. Brandon walked down to the end of the pier for the first time ready to catch a cobia only to find a pack of people elbow-to-elbow trying to do the same thing. He walked away without even throwing a cast.

Later, he went on a local online fishing forum and saw all these guys catching cobia and bull reds from kayaks. He was intrigued.

He started demoing some kayaks and ended up buying his first kayak — a Hobie Pro Angler — in 2010. He’s been a hardcore kayak angler ever since.

After buying his kayak and having some real success fishing from it, he decided to start a YouTube channel when his wife won a GoPro camera in an online contest. That’s when people started to notice Brandon.

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Emerald Waters Kayak Charters

kayak fishing for sailfish

People loved seeing Brandon catch big fish while inshore and offshore fishing from his kayak on his YouTube channel. He had anglers constantly reaching out to him asking how he did it and if he could take them out fishing with him.

At the time, there really weren’t any kayak fishing charter captains in the area. With all these people asking him to go out, he thought to himself “why not do kayak fishing charters?”

Brandon and a couple of kayak fishing buddies got linked up with one of the local bait shops who started giving referrals to them for kayak fishing charters. After a short amount of time helping his friend guide clients, Brandon went legit and started his own business — Emerald Waters Kayak Charters.

Today, Brandon owns four different Hobie Kayaks that he can use for different kinds of fishing and takes clients kayak fishing inshore and offshore. Check out the video below of Brandon catching a shark on a topwater lure from his kayak:

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In this podcast episode, Brandon tells us how he got his start kayak fishing, as well as:

  • How to catch bull redfish on bridges from your kayak
  • How to outfit your gear for offshore kayak fishing
  • The best rods and reels for kayak fishing

Do you chase giant fish from your kayak? Have any questions about kayak fishing?

Let me know in the comments below!

Note: Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to the Fish Strong podcast on iTunes or Google Play.

Brandon Barton on The Fish Strong Podcast

kayak fishing for tarpon

Click the play button to listen right here on our site or click either button below to go directly to iTunes or Stitcher to download the episode.

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stitcher fish strong podcast

Note: Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to the Fish Strong podcast on iTunes or Google Play.

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How to Catch Bull Reds From Your Kayak

Kayak Fishing for Bull Redfish

One of Brandon’s favorite ways to fish from his kayak is to target bull redfish on the bridges in Pensacola. Brandon says the best way to target these bull reds is by doing the following:

Fish at Night

Brandon says he is mostly sight fishing when he’s fishing for these bull reds at night. He anchors up his kayak near the shadow line from the street lights on top of the bridge and waits for the bull reds to drift up to the surface. Once he’s spotted one, he makes a cast to it just like he was fishing on the flats for tailing reds.

Fish the Outgoing Tide

The best fishing is on the outgoing tide for these redfish. Lots of crabs and baitfish get sucked out by the outgoing tide through the bridges. The redfish use the bridges as ambush points to prey on the bait that gets sucked through the bridge. If there is no outgoing tide during the time you can fish, try to fish during an incoming tide with good moving water instead.

Be Ready to Fish the Entire Water Column

Brandon likes to have a couple different lures that he can work the entire water column with. He starts by throwing topwater lures to try and get the reds on the surface — generally using a walk-the-dog style topwater lure or a popper called the Whopper Plopper. When the topwater lures aren’t working, he’ll switch to a LIVETARGET Pinfish Swimbait. If he wants to work the bottom, he’ll switch to a big jig.

If All Else Fails: Sand Trout

When the lures aren’t working, Brandon will jig up a sand trout with a Gulp Shrimp and use it as live bait. If a sand trout doesn’t produce a bite, Brandon knows to move on to another spot.

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Offshore Kayak Fishing Tips

Kayak Fishing for red snapper

Brandon loves going offshore with his kayak to target mahi-mahi, sailfish, blackfin tuna, cobia, kingfish, red snapper and more. Brandon says the best part about fishing the Panhandle is that most of the best offshore fishing is within three miles of the beach.

He’s particularly passionate about fishing for red snapper on the artificial reefs around Pensacola.

His favorite way to target red snapper is by chumming them up and freelining chunk baits to them. Brandon says this is the best way to get the big red snapper and brings them up off the bottom where you could lose them on structure.

For offshore fishing, Brandon likes a 7′ medium heavy rod with a sensitive tip. He also uses a 5000 series reel with 50 lb braided line.

Brandon says this is his favorite rod setup because it will catch just about anything in the offshore waters near Pensacola.

Check out the video below of Brandon with a client flipping over the kayak and still catching a keeper red snapper:

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kayak fishing offshore

If you want to catch big fish from a kayak in the Florida Panhandle, check out Brandon’s kayak charter website here.

Also, don’t forget to check out his YouTube channel Emerald Coast Kayak Fishing here.

What did you think of this episode? Do you have any kayak fishing tips we didn’t go over?

Let us know in the comments!

To learn more about the Insider Fishing Club, click here now.

P.S. – To see all of the past podcast episodes, click here now.

Tight lines!

Related Posts:

1. The Ultimate Guide To Buying A Fishing Kayak (Must Read Before Purchase)

2. 11 Essential Saltwater Kayak Fishing Tips For Newbies

3. 4 Must Have Saltwater Kayak Fishing Accessories [VIDEO]

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