Fishing for Bulls is an Early Fall treat!
Also known as redfish, spot tail bass, puppy drum or channel bass, red drum got their name from the knocking or drumming sound made by the males’ swim bladders during spawning. Found up and down the east coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, they are probably the most prolific species of gamefish in our waters. With red on their backs fading to white on their bellies, they can be easily identified by the spot that looks like an eye near the tail.
Late September is prime time for “bull” redfish, those that have grown past 27 inches. During spawning season, they start gathering in large schools off the beach, at sandbars and near rock piles. Anglers chase them on the flats with fly rods and light tackle. Fishing on the bottom in the creeks with live bait or cut dead bait will often produce good catches. Note: they have to be between 15 and 23 inches to put in the cooler for dinner, but red drum up to 35 inches are often caught inshore.
These guys average between 20 and 60 pounds and will blister a drag on a medium weight reel. Often when the bite is on you can catch double-digit numbers. This makes for quite a memorable day of fishing, even when you do have to release them!
Live or dead menhaden, squid, mullet or whiting are my favorite baits and are fished with a fish-finder rig on the bottom.
Occasionally, bulls are even hooked by fishermen trolling deep lures. I like to use a twenty-pound spinning rig for maximum fun, but have caught them on lighter tackle. This is one of my favorite fish to catch — it says so right there on my Bayrunner logo!
Capt. Miles Altman of Bayrunner Fishing Charters has nearly 50 years experience fishing the waters surrounding Hilton Head Island. The Finatic boat, features a special three-hour shark/dolphin eco-tour trip. Contact Miles at (843) 290-6955 to book an unforgettable inshore or offshore charter fishing trip, departing from Shelter Cove Marina.