As the weather continues to cool and water temperatures drop, bull redfish are on fire in Port Royal Sound, and they aren't all that particular about what they'll bite. Capt. Joshua Boyles of Southern Drawl Outfitters in Bluffton has been putting his clients on these big redfish using a simple technique.
"These bull redfish are easy to target right now, and the size and numbers of them in Port Royal Sound are impressive," said Boyles, who beefs up the size of his gear because tarpon are still around and often pick up his redfish baits. "I like to land these big reds as quickly as possible to keep from wearing them out. They are old fish and important to our future fishery, so overpowering them with gear is the best way to land them without overstressing them."
Boyles is using a variety of live bait, but he said vacuum-sealed mullet will also do the job. He anchors down in 20 to 35 feet of water and uses 8000-series spinning reels and a 6- to 8-ounce weight above a 4-foot section of 80-pound fluorocarbon leader to which he ties on an 8/0 circle hook. He casts out two such rigs, and then places them in rod holders.
"I like to wait until the rod loads up before pulling it out of the rod holder," he said.
Boyles also likes to use a third line, without any weight on it. He will toss out another rig with the same bait, but he puts this one under a Burnside Bopper popping cork, keeping it close to the surface.
"This line will get hit less often, but it's worth it to have one out there. Sometimes, when we are reeling one fish in, others will follow it up, see our bait under the popping cork, and take it," he said.
While plenty of redfish are in the sound and willing to bite, Boyles said anglers will experience some down time, followed by action frenzied enough that they will often have to resort to using one rod only because of the quick action.
"This time of year in the Sound, these fish come in waves, so it's feast or famine, usually with windows of about 45 minutes," he said.
Fishing with the tides will help lessen the down-time for anglers, said Boyles (843-816-2229).
"Slack tide isn't a great time to fish, but the strongest-flowing tides aren't either. The first hour of incoming tide and the last hour of outgoing tide are the most productive times to fish, but as long as the tide is moving, but not screaming, these bulls will bite," he said.