Location: South Carolina
There are at least five different areas that Capt. Jeff targets throughout South Carolina where tarpon and red fish can be found but the two most common areas for bull reds are the Winyah Bay and the Santee Delta.
The Santee Delta is the largest river delta on the east coast and is one of the best fishing grounds for red fish because it is so high in nutrients due to the outpour of fresh water merging with the salt water. This mixture combined with an abundance of mullet and menhaden makes for the perfect fishing spot.
Extending from the mouth of the bay all the way to the ocean, there are five rivers that dump into the Winyah Bay, making these inlets ideal for “back country” style fishing.
The deeper channels and rifts act as holding spots for ambush predators, like bull reds, that are waiting for the incoming and outgoing tides to bring in unsuspecting schools of bait.
These fish hold in water anywhere from 50 feet to 6 feet of water. They often congregate around structure, laying on an edge or a hump, waiting for bait to wash across the top. They prefer to hold anywhere that’s going to act as an ambush point, including high energy bars and rips which act as funnels for bait.
Tides: These areas are very tide dependent. On the falling tide, the bait washes out where as on the incoming tide, the bait flushes in.
On the incoming tide, the water is clearer from the ocean water where as on the outgoing tide, it can be murkier which is where you might want to switch up your lure color.
Approach: Sometimes they can be found floating out in the ocean and sometimes they are busting on bait. Most often, Capt. Jeff starts by running up to the bay (depending on the tide) and watching the sonar for contours on the bottom and the way the bait is migrating. The bait funneling through the bay is often indicative of the red fish’s movement.
Other times, covering ground is the best approach, pushing and pulling through shallow channels in search of floating or tailing reds that can he can sight cast to. Sometimes the water is only 6-inches in these areas.
Rigging/Lure Selection: 8” HDUV Paddle Tail rigged with the barbarian jig. If water is dirty, Capt. Jeff will use a skirted jig to give it more profile and to move a little water when jigging.
Why This Bait? Capt. Jeff refers to this bait as “the thumper” because he can feel it thumping through the water when it’s being retrieved. He has found that this thumping action puts out a big pulse that attracts the fish. It is also imitative of the mullet in the area.
Colors: Bone (clear water) or black (murkier water)
Retrieve: There are a few retrieves that Capt. Jeff uses, depending on the surroundings.
In deeper water, he will drop the paddle tail down to the bottom where a lot of the bigger bull reds are holding and bounce it, using the vibrations of the paddle tail to attract predators before slowly and steadily retrieving it through the water column while imparting short pauses to let the lure fall. Most often, they hit on the drop.
If he is holding a position with a trolling motor or staging a rip, he will work the area by casting the lure our and working it back up.
Rod: 8’ Shimano SE Teramar spinning rod medium/heavy
Reel: Shimano Saragosa 6000SW Reel
Line: 50lb PowerPro Braid
Leader: 60 to 80lb Mirage Big Game Fluorocarbon Orvis Leader
Connection: Double Uni Knot with a Bimini Twist