I don’t know of any Inshore fisherman alive that doesn’t like a little Trout fishing now and then, especially an angler who has access to saltwater without too much trouble. There’s no doubt, Trout are fun to catch when you find them in numbers, and their table quality exceeds any Inshore species available in most areas.
As most Trout fishermen know, fish can be caught by the dozens in your spot one day, and then gone the next day to who knows where. Usually we find out real quick where they went. Probably some of your buddys’ fishing spot that docks their boat next to you or they may live next door. You arrive back at the ramp or dock to hear; “Man, we had our limit of Trout pretty quick this morning. We finally ran out of bait, so we came on back. How did y’all do?” If this doesn’t sound familiar, you’ve got a species of fish clocked down to a Science that 99% of fishermen don’t. Congratulations!
When the Trout fishing becomes frustrating for you, there are still options that will enable you to catch some fish, especially when your ‘hot spot” has “give out” on you. In fact, if it’s near low tide around a shell bed, you can almost guarantee to produce!
I’m talking about Redfish! This time of year the reds are pretty much “where ever you want them to be”. That is the beauty of Fall Fishing in Georgia and Florida. Find yourself a nice low water shell bed, tie on a popping cork with a live shrimp or minnow, and fish the bed until you cannot stand to cast at it once more. If you didn’t produce a Redfish, shame on you! These school size fish can be found around just about any structure you can find, especially in 2-10 ft. of water. The smaller Reds seem to like this depth while feeding Inshore, at least that’s my observation from my 20 years of experience of catching reds with my father, and his 50 years experience catching reds with his father, blah…blah… You know… The family thing.
Now, we can also talk about catching “BIG” Redfish, too. Fall is the time for the huge spawning females to be feeding around sounds, sandbars and larger river mouths that form a point. I know many anglers tend to favor this “tag and brag” type fishing over any other, myself included. If you want to catch a Red, do it right, and do it BIG. I always opt for larger species of fish, especially on a charter fishing trip with clients who don’t get to see much saltwater in their lives.
Depending on what YOU think will be a good size red to fish for, your tackle and techniques will vary a bit. If your target reds will be over 25 – pounds. You’ll need to rig a bit heavier than traditional light tackle river fishing. If you don’t, you may be re-lining your reel or replacing the drag washers if you’re not careful.
In this article we’ll cover some tackle and locations to target “Bull” Redfish, no matter what size you desire. I’ll also tell you how to find them, when and where.
First things first. Your tackle selection is extremely important in successfully landing the larger Reds. If you are not familiar with this type of fishing, you’ll find a lot of anglers prefer heavy spinning gear to target the heavy hitters, even fishing from a boat. It does, in fact make it a bit more “sporty” than conventional bait casting reels.
Proper Tackle and Rigging
Rod and Reel
- Shakespeare Ugly Stik Custom (14-17 Medium Class Spinning Rod)
- Shakespeare Intrepid 3860 Spinning Reel
- Load your Reel with Berkley Big Game (20 Pound)
Your Terminal Tackle
- 50 Pound Snap Swivel
- 3 ft. length of 60 – Pound Monofilament Leader
- 14/O Circle Hook (Normally Prevents Swallowing the Hook)
- 3 OZ. Egg Weight
- Box of toothpicks
After you tie the snap swivel on your main line, tie a surgeons loop at one end of your 3 ft. leader. Slide on your 3 OZ. Egg Weight about half way up the leader. Stick a toothpick into the Weight to secure it onto the leader. Then just tie on a hook with your favorite knot, and you’re set.
Finding the Bulls
Finding these fish is probably the easiest part of the quest. One thing to keep in mind, this type of fishing DOES NOT require clear, clean water to produce BIG numbers of fish. In fact, the dirtier, the better. When it’s dirty, crabs and other crustacians are stirred from the ocean floor around full and new moon phases. Bottom line is, strong currents create ideal feeding situations for big Redfish.
Any area where breaking water churns just off the beach is a prime location, just keep your boat out of any safety or swim zones that may be close to shore. Anchor your boat near the break as SAFELY possible. Your bait needs to be cast into the breaking water, so you must position your boat accordingly. These big Reds will lurk in 3 – 10 ft. of water to feed, but I have caught them shallower than that on many occasions, especially off Little St. Simons Island.
Unfortunately, the better breaking water areas you find will be treacherous due to ocean swells climbing tall and breaking as they roll in from the Atlantic. For example, Wolf Island off the Altamaha Sound is one of the most dangerous areas to fish, but if you can get your boat in between the sets of breaking swells in a trough or slu, you can almost bet your last dollar on a nice Red. Once again, most all these breaking water areas hold Redfish during the Fall months.
Baits of Choice
I have experimented with dozens of baits to catch big Reds, and the truth is, they will bite just about anything you present to them when they are on the feed. When the fish don’t feed is when you have to look at the results of all your experimentation.
There are several guides at Golden Isles Marina, including myself, who will agree that there are two cut baits that will produce when no other will. Fresh Bluefish or Whiting. That’s right. Always bring along your small spinning gear and fish a squid piece on the bottom, and normally you’ll catch a Bluefish or Whiting to chunk up as cut bait.
Personally, I’ve caught more big Reds using chunks of Bluefish than any other bait, but Whiting runs a close second! As with any fresh cut bait, Sharks like to eat it as well, but most times, they’ll be Atlantic Sharpnose Sharks this time of year, and they haven’t been too bad this year. They feel like a Red when they take off, so unless you see that big boil on the surface, don’t count on it to be a Red.
A Word on Landing Releasing Big Redfish
After catching hundreds of bull Redfish, please understand this is an important part of fishing for the bulls. Extra care must be taken when landing and releasing these not so gentle giants. Truthfully, and scientifically proven, the fish should never be held upright (Vertical) what so ever. To make a long story short, it stretches out their insides and vital organs. If you take the fish out of the water, support his body weight from underneath as you remove him from the water. Get your hook out, and get that fish back quickly. The less slime they lose off their body, the better. Be sure to revive the fish until you feel him struggling to leave your hands, and then give a push straight down.
If you have never experienced bull Redfishing at it’s best, you can book a charter with me on the C-NILE, and you’ll get a hands on feel for where to fish and how it’s done.