Fishing for Red Drum

Article and photo by Miles Altman, Bayrunner Fishing Charters

Spring and fall are ideal times to reel in a bull reds in Lowcountry waters.

Twenty-five feet below the surface, a marauding school of bull reds swept the sandy bottom in search of prey. Honing in on the smell of fresh-cut mullet, a large bull inhaled the chunk and, upon feeling the bite of the 8/0 circle hook, put his broad shoulders and tail into high gear.

Twenty-five feet above the bottom, on board the Phantom, the medium-heavy spinning rod bucked and then bent double as the reel drag started singing that song all anglers love to hear: line disappearing off the spool at a high rate of speed.

One of the bright spots in our local fisheries is the impressive comeback of the red drum. Years of tight restrictions on bag limits and increased mariculture efforts by the state have resulted in one of our most prolific resurgences. Known by many names — including spottail bass, redfish (smaller ones) and bull reds (bigger ones) — the red drum offer some of the best sport fishing for Lowcountry anglers, regardless of whether, they are land-bound or boaters.

Bull reds make two strong runs a year: in April and in the fall, usually September and October. During these times, catching double-digit numbers of 20- to 40-pounders is not uncommon. An occasional bull can be caught any time of the year – and the smaller ones are here all year-long, too – but it’s nothing compared to the spring and fall.

On the Phantom, I like to use medum- heavy spinning rods with 40-pound braid. I fish a fairly tight drag, letting the battle wear on with lighter stuff increases the recovery time and the mortality of the release fish. Multiple hookups are fairly common, creating a Chinese fire drill on board as anglers strive to keep the strong fish from tangling.

Red drum make for great fishing! When it comes to reeling in big bull reds, the time is now.

Capt. Miles Altman of Bayrunner Fishing Charters has more than 42 years experience fishing the waters surrounding Hilton Head Island. The Finatic boat, which can accommodate up to 12 passengers and features a special three-hour shark/dolphin eco-tour trip. Contact Miles at (843) 290-6955 to book an unforgettable inshore or offshore charter fishing trip, departing from Shelter Cove Marina.