Red Drum Resurgence

Photo: Capt. Miles Altman

Bull Reds make a strong run in local waters this month.

By Capt. Miles Altman, Bayrunner Fishing Charters

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. The line disappeared 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 fisheries. Known by many names — spot tail bass, redfish (smaller ones) and bull reds (bigger ones) — the red drum offers 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 spring (April and May) and fall (September and October), but they can be caught year-round. During these times, catching double-digit numbers of 20 to 40-pounders is not uncommon.

Photo from Bayrunner Sportfishing Charters Facebook page.

An occasional bull can be caught any time of the year, and the smaller ones are here all year long too. However, nothing can compare to the volume of red drum in spring and fall.

On the Phantom, I like to use medium-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.

This month should also be good for cobia and big jacks, but that’s another story…

Capt. Miles Altman of Bayrunner Fishing Charters has more than 42 years of experience fishing the waters surrounding Hilton Head Island. Don’t miss the new Finatic boat, which accommodates up to 12 passengers and features a special 3-hour shark/dolphin eco-tour trip. Contact Capt. Miles at (843) 290-6955 to book an unforgettable inshore or offshore charter fishing trip, departing from Shelter Cove Marina. BayrunnerFishingHiltonHead.com.