The bull redfish bite is on all along the South Carolina coast, and Capt. Brian Vaughn of Off the Hook Fishing Charters in Hilton Head has been catching scores of them on his recent outings. Vaughn said these fish are typically 15 to 35 pounds, with some considerably bigger fish mixed in.
Catching these bulls isn't rocket science, and Vaughn said the biggest problem is hooking into big sharks, which are also readily biting. That's why he suggests spooling up with 80- to 100-pound monofilament and having the reel's drag properly set. Vaughn sets out at least one chum bag and prefers to use two, with one on the surface and the other anchored to the bottom. This is what really draws in the bull reds, but also what attracts the sharks, who will sometimes skip the bait altogether and just attack the chum bag.
"Live menhaden is the best bait right now, but if I have especially large menhaden, I will cut them in half," said Vaughn, who fishes these baits on a 7/0 circle hook as part of a standard Carolina rig.
Most fish are coming from deeper holes in a variety of places around the island, so Vaughn said anchoring down and fishing deep is the way to go. He is also having success fishing with mullet.
"The bite slows somewhat during full high or dead low tide, and is best an hour or two on either side of the incoming or outgoing tide," said Vaughn (843-298-4376), who advises fishermen to keep an eye out for birds diving at schools of baitfish, because the big bull reds are following these schools around.
Vaughn and his clients have had several double- and triple-hookups with bull reds lately, and he doesn't expect things to slow down anytime soon.
"The big bull action is red hot and should be for several more weeks to come," he said.