Warmer weather has helped fishermen who have been dragging mud minnows around Cherry Grove and Murrells Inlet for flounder, but the big news along the northern half of South Carolina’s coastline is that the big, bull reds have returned to Georgetown’s waters.
Capt. Steve Roff of Barrier Island Guide Service has had plenty of success over the past 10 days putting his clients on 40-pound redfish.
“We have been smacking up the bull reds lately,” said Roff (843-446-7337). “We are catching many 30- to 40-pounders. It has been a real fun spring bite!”
The fish have arrived a little earlier than usual, but Roff said no fishermen who have cranked one of these beasts to the boat has had any complaints. According to Roff, the reds have showed up prematurely following new groups of baitfish that are just arriving along the beaches.
“We just started seeing batches of small, 4-inch menhaden pouring into the area, and the reds are right in them feeding heavy,” said Roff, who is catching them in a wide variety of places, including inside the river channel around the Georgetown Lighthouse, out along the Winyah Bay jetties and north along the beachfront towards Pawley’s Island.
“If the wind gets up, we will fish in the river channel, but the best bite is along the beach and at the jetties where we get some double digits,” Roff said.
Finding fish every day is not a very difficult task when countless pelicans are putting on an aerial show. For most of the winter, they have scavenged for anything wiggling to fulfill their hearty appetites, and the influx of menhaden has sent both the pelicans and bull reds into a massive feeding frenzy.
Roff also mentions that plenty of dolphins will be patrolling around and attacking the schools of menhaden as well.
“Look for birds and big schools of baitfish. That’s right where they will be,” said Roff, who is using a simple Carolina rig with a 2- to 3-ounce egg sinker, a 6/0 to 7/0 circle hook, and a short, 80-pound leader.
“A long leader is not needed. In fact, the shorter leader prevents deep hooking,” says Roff.
The best bait is a freshly-netted live menhaden, but cut bait or a large bucktail jig will tempt one of these fish onto the hook in record time.