If you’re after some big bull redfish, then here’s your chance. All over the Gulf Coast from Pensacola, FL to Panama City, FL big bull redfish are coming in droves. These things get upward of 40-50 lbs and will strip a reel of line in a quick second. So, you better pack a big reel, a sturdy rod and preferably a boat.
Well, to find these giant redfish, you need to be on the beach, gulf side. The key is to look for diving birds. If you don’t have access to a boat, you better be prepared to wade out as far as you can with a big rod and cast to them, as these fish are in the 10-15 foot depth range. These birds are diving on all the pilchards and menhaden that are schooled up on the shorelines this time of year, so in order to catch these fish, you need to “match the hatch” as I call it and use these types of bait. If you are using artificial bait, then a Z-man Minnowz or a Z-man Swimmerz bait will suffice. I promise you this, you can catch them on artificial bait just as you can with live bait. I recommend the Z-man bait because their elaztech plastic that they make these baits out of is virtually indestructible, thus easing the hit your wallet takes when buying baits. The colors I have found to work the best this time of year are, New Penny, Hitch, Natural, and Opening Night (glass minnow). Just remember, if wading out to catch these, be VERY VERY careful as the stingrays are mixed in with these reds as well. I have seen some of the biggest stingrays ever lately, they look like coffee tables laying down on the bottom. If it looks like a coffee table from 15 ft up, you know they are big. SO BE CAREFUL!
The key is to just cast into the bait pod that the birds are diving on and let your bait sink right to the bottom as this is where the fish are holding. The fish hold there so that they can ambush the bait from below and pick off any stragglers that are left behind outside of the bait pod, thus making it an easy meal. If you are on a boat, then your chances of catching one of these beasts are ever increased. You want to follow the same procedure as you would wade fishing only you can cover more ground this way: Look for birds and bait; cast into them; let it hit the bottom; and start twitching your bait. It wont take long before a fish devours it and you have a fight on your hands. The law in Florida doesn’t allow you to keep these sized redfish so you have to throw them back. But after a few photo’s of you and your catch, throwing it back will leave you with a good feeling knowing that you can come back tomorrow and catch her again. I say “her” because once the reds reach this size they are all breeding females, which is one of the main reasons your not allowed to keep them.
If you’re on the Gulf Coast this winter, make this one of your adventures for a day. I promise you this, it will be a trip of a lifetime. We have some very good guides here on the coast that love doing this sort of thing. If you’re unsure of who would be the best guide in town, hit me up (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll direct you to the right person for the job.
Till next time tight lines and may God Bless.