Capt. Jim Dodge of Charleston said the bull redfish bite is on in Charleston Harbor, but you’d never know it to see him putting his bait on the hook.
"Sometimes the fish prefer live bait, but lately all they're touching is cut bait," said Dodge, who runs Charleston Fishing Guide Service. "This is as close to shark fishing as you can get."
Dodge has been using a filet of cut mullet on a No. 6/0 circle hook on a Carolina rig with four feet of 50-pound monofilament leader and a 2-ounce sliding egg sinker above a sinker.
"You can let the current carry the bait to the bottom, then just engage the reel and set it in the rod holder," said Dodge (843-906-1622), who prefers to fish the harbor on the outgoing tide and concentrates on humps on the harbor's floor. "Some people want their baits in the deep holes, but the redfish also cruise the shallow parts of the harbor, knowing the baitfish try to hide out there."
Sometimes a hump is just a 14-foot deep area is in the middle of an 18-foot deep hole, sometimes only the size of two or three boats. The change may seem insignificant to some anglers, but Dodge knows they are prime spots to target big redfish.
Dodge said that, once hooked, there’s no need to bulldog these big fish in the open harbor since there are no docks, exposed rocks or structure for them to cut your line. Mount Pleasant’s Sindy Orvig tussled with a big red on a trip with Dodge earlier this week, letting the heavy rod and the reel’s drag to do their share of the work while she worked the 40-inch-plus red to the boat in fight that lasted several minutes – one of several that took place over a couple of hours before the bite turned off.
While bull redfish are the star of the show, they aren't the only fish biting. When the fishing shuts down here at slack tide, Dodge heads up the Wando to fish for keeper redfish, speckled trout and flounder, all of which are biting a variety of live and cut baits.