Red Drum, Redfish, Reds…regardless of what you call them, Redfish are without a doubt one of the most fun fish to catch in the summer while inshore fishing.
One of our favorite places to catch summer trophy red drum is in August when we shoot up for a late summer vacation in St. Mary’s, Georgia. The 3-mile-long jetty off the southern tip of Cumberland Island near St. Marys is an easy landmark to locate on your charts and also for the red drum to school up while feeding on the tides. Redfish hide among the rocks and use ambush style attacks on passing baitfish and crabs. They also enjoy travelling in schools up and down where the rocks meet the bottom and blasting the bait with an attack meant to disorient the baitfish schools.
For live bait fisherman nothing quite beats a crab chunk either bobbing along the rocks (be careful not to get it stuck) or resting on the bottom where the jetty meets the bottom to catch the redfish as they school by looking for tasty morsels to feed on.
If you are inclined to fish with artificial, nothing beats a top water tossed up against the jetty and worked in “Walk-The-Dog” fashion down the length of the jetty especially if you notice redfish schools busting bait along the waterline of the jetty.
If you are a lure junky like myself, I’d suggest checking out Impact Lures . The baits are handmade from wood right here in Florida by Florida Craftsman, Ernie Deblasi and can really take a beating. Ernie is an avid fisherman so he rigs these beauties with VMC hooks to guarantee no hook bends on even the biggest bull redfish.
I love this area as you can easily bus the family to miles of soft, clean sand for some quality beachtime. Fortunately, these beaches also host large schools of gorgeous red drum that you can easily walk the beach a ways from the family and toss half a crab chunk, kick back and wait for the school to come by for a great hook-up. There is nothing better than building sand castles and then racing with your children to a rod bent over with a monster red drum on the other end. You can pick likely spots by watching for birds either diving at bait schools or on the shore racing out nab baitfish on the receding waveline. The can indicate that something larger is pushing them onto the beach.
Georgia, The Carolinas and Northeast Florida are host to some amazing creeks and Spartina Grass beds that can be sampled on the high (flood) tide. Redfish love to creep up on these otherwise dry areas and snack on the crustaceans that become available with this new feeding territory.
There is nothing quite as exciting as seeing a red drum’s tail come poppoing up as they are face down in the mud looking for tasty critters. You will be site casting to these belly crawling reds, so you must make sure to get the bait within their field of vision without spooking them. One technique is to cast forward of the red drum and then bring the bait into the redfish’s field of vision. This will help to not spook the redfish. When reds are exploring new and shallow territory then can be skittesh unless fully immersed in feeding, both of which is challenging to get a bite. That’s part of the fun though.
One of our favorite skiffs to chase these fish in is the Sundance DX18. These flat bottom Carolina Skiff style boats are fantastic for hauling wife, kids, pets as well as getting super shallow up in the narrow creeks on an incoming tide.
This skiff design gives anglers and their families the best of both worlds.
If you need something slightly larger, Sundance’s B20 is a perfect boat for these areas. The B20 features a wide beam which gives the boat a fantastic true 6″ draft FULLY LOADED and a nice modified Tri V hull to handle some choppy weather as well. Here is a great video of the B20 in action.
Both of Sundance’s skiffs in this class feature a fantastic wide cockpit that allows plenty of room for kids and anglers alike. The flat bottom allows weight to shift without major correction while steering, which can happen frequently when kids, dogs or drunk uncles (don’t ask) decide to move around the boat when underway. The Carolina Skiff style casting decks common on these Carolina flat bottom boats allow you to get high to spot those tailing reds I was speaking about.