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Finding and Catching Bull Redfish

provided by John Phillips

Some anglers like to test their strength and endurance against giant saltwater fish. Mossy Oak Elements Pro, Mark Davis of Lexington, South Carolina, has proved he’s on the extreme end of this giant challenge of man against beast. Davis fishes from Montauk, New York, to Brownsville, Texas, Alaska and Australia for all saltwater species for his TV show, “BigWater Adventures” on the Outdoor Channel. Most people on the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico Coast believe that all the bottom fish die or are uncatchable in the winter months, but this isn’t true. This week, Mark Davis explains that there is still some really good fishing offshore for other types of snapper.

Mark Davis bull redfish

We were fishing right outside of the Northeast Pass of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, throwing a cast net to catch live menhaden bait for yellowfin tuna, and we caught two bull redfish. Two days later when we were filming the bull redfish episode for our TV show, we decided to fish right where we’d caught the menhaden. Before we knew it, we caught and released 60-75 redfish with a 7-foot medium-heavy rod and a 5500 Penn Slammer reel with 50-pound Seaguar Threadlock braided line. The biggest one we caught weighed about 40 pounds, and the average redfish ranged from 20-30 pounds. All of our redfish were caught on either Halco Tackle or a 6-inch thumper.

I began fishing with Halco Tackle because I’m known for destroying lures, and this Australian company makes lures that are almost indestructible. I believe a shark can eat one of these lures, chew it up and spit it out until it looks like bubble gum, but you’ll still catch fish on it. Bull redfish are very aggressive, vicious striking fish, and the Halco lures still can catch them after taking the beating they give.

One of the secrets to locating and catching big bull reds is to find the menhaden on which they’re feeding. Even though we caught two bull reds in the cast net for menhaden two days before our redfish episode, the big redfish were still in the same spot. True yellowfin tuna fishermen hate redfish because when they throw their big cast nets, some of the menhaden are released as the redfish start swimming toward the top of the cast net.

Now you can catch bull reds just off the beach in many areas of the Upper Gulf Coast. When those big reds start pushing schools of menhaden to the surface, you actually can see the redfish slashing through the water, trying to catch the bait fish. Anytime you see that type of top-water action, those redfish will take any type of top-water lure or sub-surface lure you cast to them. If you stay with those big schools of redfish, you can catch and release them, until your muscles are too tired to pull, wind and reel.

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