It's bull redfish time across the Carolinas. Anglers are catching them from the piers, the beaches, and while fishing from boats. While some anglers target these trophy fish this time of year, others catch them while going after slot-sized fish. Anglers fishing for sharks also hook a bull redfish from time to time.
These fish are a blast to catch, but are too big to legally keep in either state. They're an important asset to the fishery, and savvy anglers do all they can to make sure they are released unharmed.
Capt. Rod Thomas with Capt. Ponytail Guide Service has two tips that will go a long way in making sure you're giving these big fish their best chance at surviving the fight, as well as the release.
Sometimes these fish are so worn out from the fight that they don't swim off immediately, but instead float belly up or just move off sluggishly and swimming crooked. They become easy targets for sharks in the area who often first notice the fish during the fight, then stick around long enough to get an easy meal once the fish is returned to the water.
Ponytail's first tip is to use a circle hook and as short a leader as possible when fishing. He uses the Owen Lupton Rig, which uses such leaders. This results in the fish swallowing the hook far less often, and usually leaves the hook in the corner of its mouth, allowing for easy removal without damaging the fish.
His second tip requires a washdown hose, which many fishing boats have. Watch the included video to see how Ponytail uses his hose to revive a sluggish bull redfish.