Anglers counting down the days until the bull redfish run along the Grand Strand can  stop counting and start fishing. The arrival of fall has kick-started the southerly migration of bull redfish along local beaches, and it didn’t take local fishermen long to get a fix on them.

Capt. Mark Stacy of Ocean Isle Fishing Charters has been regularly detouring from his normal fishing holes in the marsh to head for the beaches, where the oversized, bronzed beauties have arrived. 

“Every few days, I have been making a beach run looking for them with a few live baits in the boat,” said Stacy (910-279-0119), “and they were right on time this year!”

A few days ago, Stacy caught his first 40-pounder along the beach just north of the state line. Ever since,, the action has been picking up, with double hookups and a dozen releases becoming regular daily fare.

The fall run of bull reds typically begins at the end of September every year. These redfish, sometimes exceeding 50 pounds, arrive in schools in connection with the annual migration of menhaden and mullet.

Stacy has found bull reds scattered along the beach from Oak Island, N.C., south to the beachfront off the northern end of the Grand Strand.

“Compared to the way it will be in a few weeks, they are in smaller schools right now, but there are plenty of fish out there to catch when you find an active school,” said Stacy, who is catching fish using a common technique.

“I run down the beach and throw out a few free-lined live baits into the (menhaden) pods,” he said. “I will give each pod about 10 minutes and then run to the next one and repeat. The redfish schools will be on one of the bait pods, and they will have a tough time resisting a struggling menhaden with a hook in its nose.”

While the bull reds can be found at the nearshore reefs and the inlets, Stacy is having his best success within a baseball’s throw of the sunbathers on the beaches.

“I am fishing right behind the breakers in 5 to 8 foot of water,” Stacy said. “The bait is hugging tight to the shore, and the bulls are right in there with them.”