GREG HILDRETH AND THE BIG BULL REDFISH
How to Catch the Big, Bull Redfish
Editor’s Note: When the leaves begin to fall, and Jack Frost expels white frost in the winter winds, most sportsmen think of whitetails, webfoots, elks bugling and a sky full of feathers. But on the coast of Georgia, fall signals the beginning of bull red season, the loading-up of speckled trout in marshes and the season for catching flounder. We’ve all eaten Brunswick stew, but few of us know that the home of Brunswick stew is Brunswick, Georgia, where well-known speckled trout and red fish expert, Captain Greg Hildreth, lives and guides. I recently fished with Hildreth, off St. Simon’s Island, and this week Hildreth will reveal what the Georgia Coast has to offer salt-water fishermen in the fall.
QUESTION: What causes the big, bull redfish to come in close to shore at this time of year?
HILDRETH: They come in during the fall when their spawn is finished to feed-up on baitfish and get fattened-up for the winter before they move offshore.
QUESTION: How many of these bull reds can you usually catch in six hours of fishing?
HILDRETH: On most days, you can catch 12 to 18 bull redfish that will weigh from 18 to 40 pounds.
QUESTION: How big were the three redfish we caught in less than three hours when we were fishing in early November?
HILDRETH: The biggest redfish weighed 38 pounds and the other two weighed over 20 pounds.
QUESTION: How do you catch these fish, Greg?
HILDRETH: Redfish often run in schools, so I either fish the Boottail grub, or I put out live bait in shallow water. Once we get a redfish on, my customers will cast to the school with Boottail grubs following the first red, as it comes to the boat.
QUESTION: What’s your favorite color Bootttail grub to use?
HILDRETH: It doesn’t really matter. When those redfish are on a feeding spree, they’ll take any color Boottail grub you put in the water. However, if I’m fishing in dingy water, I like the brighter colors, and if I’m fishing in clear water, I like the transparent, holographic colors. But once these redfish get on a feeding spree, they’ll hit anything you throw to them. Sometimes, when the fish are schooling, we catch big reds on jerkbaits, and I prefer to use the Spike-It jerkbaits. Many times, those big, bull reds come up on the surface to take the baits.
QUESTION: When do the big reds come in, and how long do they stay?
HILDRETH: They usually come into shallow water in our area off the coast of Georgia in mid-September and stay until the end of November. We catch them every day the weather permits.
QUESTION: What are the keeper requirements on these reds?
HILDRETH: In Georgia, the redfish have to be 14 to 23 inches to keep them. But, most of the reds we catch are well over that requirement. When we move inshore and fish the marshes, that’s where we find and catch the keeper reds.
TOMORROW: CATCH THEM BY THE HOUR