Big Bull Redfish in the Surf Zone: Tactics

Bull Redfish Fishing Methods

During the changing tides of spring and fall in the Coastal Georgia Sea Islands: bays, sounds, and inlets there is a seasonal migration of big Bull Redfish. From the Tybee Island Pier to the St. Mary’s River, many of the Bull Redfish found here are some of the largest Redfish you can catch. Once you have dialed in on the best bait for Red Drum, best tides for Redfish, Redfish migration patterns, and bull redfish tackle it quickly becomes apparent how powerful Georgia Bull Redfish are.

Bull Redfish Patterns in Coastal Georgia

Bull Redfish wintering near shore bite very well by sandbars, sloughs, rips and other spots that hold bait-fish on full moon phases in dirty, fast moving coastal currents. These Bull Reds are known as the drumming aggregate, which consist of very large schools of male Redfish. These Red Drum aggregates consist of Redfish of similar size because Red Drum school by size. Redfish prefer areas that have immediate access to deep water on at least two sides of a sandbar or slough in order to escape Dolphin or large Sharks. Young Bull Redfish like to charge on top of the bar as the tide comes in looking for crabs, small bait fish, and shrimp without the fear of being attacked by predators. When the tide rises, move closer to the sandbar. Stay as shallow as safely possible without touching bottom. This is not how the big Bull Redfish are caught, but still good Red Drum fishing!


Bull Redfish Catch and Release Only

The first concern is the health of a Bull Redfish after landing it and is the most critical part of the process. Improper handling of Bull Redfish leads to high mortality rates. Once a Bull Redfish is landed on the boat, work together quickly to measure, photograph and release the Reddrum in under 60 seconds whenever possible. You don’t want the Redfish out of the water any longer than you could hold your breath under the water. Awareness of proper handling and release techniques is important before attempting to land Bull Redfish. Many people see the white rubbery looking lips of the Redfish and think there are no teeth. They would be wrong about that and the next time you land a Redfish pull the lips back and look at the teeth. And the teeth of a Red Drum will cut your fingers up if you put your hand in there. Most saltwater fish have some type of teeth and many have a mouth full of nasty razor sharp teeth.

cranka crab redfish

Best Bait for Bull Redfish

The biggest myth in the Georgia Sea Islands is that blue crab chunks are the best bait for Bull Redfish. This may very well be true in some coastalxp areas. However, Blue Crabs are nearly useless for Bull Redfish bait when fished next to cut bait in coastalxp Georgia. Here in the Georgia Sea Islands, the Best Bait for Bull Redfish is live Pogies (menhaden) or fresh cut Mullet. That is a fact. I will also add that Big Bull Redfish will destroy a young Asian Tiger Shrimp in the surf zone if given the chance. What is the Best Bait for Puppy Drum? Smaller Red Drum prefer live Georgia Shrimp hands down. I was fishing with a buddy one time and we had the same popping cork, hooks and the same live shrimp, everything was the same except one thing. He caught nearly 10 Redfish to my every one. I never knew why until I was thinking one day and remembered him “adjusting” his shrimp on the hook every time he put a new shrimp on. I didn’t think much about it at the time, maybe he wasn’t satisfied it was on the hook straight? That’s when it hit me, he wasn’t adjusting the hook, he was quietly snapping the horn! After realizing this secret I snap the horn every time releasing the fresh smell of live shrimp that young Redfish cannot resist!


Best Bull Redfish Tackle

Normally you will use short leaders 50 to 60 pound mono and 5-6 ounce flat weights that do not roll to keep the Redfish Rig on the bottom. The big Bull Redfish stay close to the bottom in search of crabs, bait fish, and shrimp, and therefore it is importance to maintain your bait near the bottom so the Redfish can find it. If your leader too long, it might float around causing the Redfish to miss it. Bull Redfish are genetically engineered to grub around on the ocean sea floor and inshore bottom, so having your bait where they can find it is the best way to produce quality Bull Redfish. Best Redfish Rig for Puppy Drum or Rat Reds is the popping cork rigged with live shrimp or Gulp! I am a big fan of DOA Shrimp and a white 4″ Berkley Gulp! Shrimp on a jig-head with gold hooks. When using a popping cork gold Kahle hooks are the preferred hook for live shrimp. Now get out on the water and find some volunteers for your own Coastal Georgia Bull Redfish Survey.