From the foamy suds along the breakers to the 20-foot depths a couple of miles off the beach, schools of trophy bull reds are very plentiful along the Grand Strand.
Anglers fishing out of Little River Inlet and Murrells Inlet are having solid success with fish that typically weigh more than 25 pounds. Capt. Jason Burton of Fly Girl Fishing Charters in Murrells Inlet is pulling off two charters a day with double-digit catches on each.
“We always get a good run of bulls this time of year, but it is just insane right now,” said Burton (843-798-9100). “We are catching them just about anywhere and everywhere. They are running the beach and staging up on any kind of structure.”
The jetties, Myrtle Beach Rocks and every other place along the Grand Strand with an irregular bottom are concentrating these fish and are easy pickings for both novice and experience anglers. The Pawley’s Reef, North Inlet Reef and Paradise Reef should also have good congregations of bait and bull reds. Anglers without a boat should not be left out either. Burton reports that surf fishermen are joining in on the action, too.
“The mullet run is still strong, and the big bulls are following the mullet. So, anywhere you see congregations of mullet will be good spots to drop a line,” he said.
Consequently, live mullet fished on a Carolina rig with an ounce of lead or less is the ideal rig to get these fish to bite. Burton will also use fresh-cut bluefish or any other kind of live bait he can crank up off the bottom to use for bait.
Fishermen can expect the reds to stay around for a few more weeks or until the next major cold front arrives.
Anglers should remember that these bull reds are catch-and-release only. South Carolina anglers can keep three red drum per day in the 15- to 23-inch slot limit. All reds over or under the slot limit must be released unharmed as quickly as possible.
Anglers should use caution when handling these fish for the majority of these fish over 35 inches in length are at least 25 years old, and in some cases, adult red drum have been documented to reach 60 years of age.