Bull redfish are a popular prize among anglers this month, and one of the best places to find them is in the Charleston Harbor. These aren’t eating-sized fish, but true trophy fish.
Capt. Addison Rupert of Lowcountry Outdoor Adventures said this time of year is one of the best for catching these fish, which range anywhere from 30 inches long on up to over 50 inches in length.
Rupert has been catching plenty of these fish in the past few weeks. The best way to find them in the harbor is to look on your sonar for changes in the harbor’s floor. And while many people look for holes that are slightly deeper than the water all around them, it can be just as effective to find bumps, or small areas that are slightly more shallow than the water around them.
Once he finds a likely looking spot, Rupert anchors down and fishes with either live or cut bait. He said on most days this time of year, the redfish aren’t too picky about what they’ll eat, but he prefers to have a variety of baits. Live mullet, menhaden, and shad make up a good portion of his baits, but cut versions of all those, as well as quartered blue crabs are good baits too.
These fish require that anglers go a little heavier on their gear than they would if fishing for slot-sized redfish. 4500-series spinning reels on medium-heavy to heavy rods are standard, and it’s not uncommon to use 5500 and 6500 reels. Fishing lines that range from 30 to 60 pound test are good bets, and hook sizes range from No. 3 to No. 6.
Once the bait is on the bottom, Rupert prefers to put the rods in rod holder, then wait for the fish to bite. Using circle hooks, the rods will do the hooking for you once the fish bites the bait and starts to move with it. Allowing the equipment to do the work cuts down on missed fish.
And once a fish is hooked, the fight is on. The trick to landing these oversized fish is to reel in slack line when the fish allows you to, and to let them run when prefer to do so. With the proper equipment and hook set, once these fish are hooked, landing them is just a matter of time, especially out in the harbor where the fish have no structure to swim in and tangle up on.
Some anglers make the mistake or trying to horse the fish in too quickly. These fish will tire themselves out, but you have to let them run against the drag of the reel to help tire them out. If your drag is set too tight, you will either reel them in too quickly, which will leave them with plenty of energy to fight once they get to the boat, or they will simply break the line before you even see them.