Capt. Gerald Ellender (985-688-1715) said August begins the annual migration of bull reds into the deeper channels and holes around Dularge.
“It happens every year,” he said. “The bull reds show up in August, and they’ll hang here all month and through September, and usually until mid-October.
“Then they vanish, presumably offshore, until the same time next year.”
Ellender said any of the deeper channels that have turns and holes where the depth drops off are good places to try.
“The single most-important factor is tide,” he said. “You have to have moving water or you won’t catch fish. I prefer an incoming tide, but a falling tide will also produce.
“Use your depth sounder and position your boat in shallower water over the flat, and toss your bait where the ledge drops off into deeper water. The reds aren’t usually flat on the bottom in the deep water. They generally hang along the ledges waiting to ambush bait.”
Ellender said the best bait is cracked crab.
“Use fresh cracked crab on decent-sized kahle hook,” he said. “I pull off the top shell and use a strong pair of scissors to cut the crab in quarters.”
Hooks range from No. 4 to No. 9 kahle, with the deciding factor being the size of the fish being caught.
“If I’m fishing slot reds — fish between 16-27 inches — then a No. 4 to No. 66 hook is fine,” Ellender said. “But if you are hunting bulls, you want a stout hook, a No. 7 to No. 9, and braided line and at least 18 to 24 inches of 30- to 40-pound leader.
“Fish it on a sliding sinker, and vary your weight depending on the strength of the current. You want to get your bait all the way to the bottom because that’s where these reds are scrounging for food.”
That means he varies the weight used.
“On lighter tidal movements I’ll use a ¾-ounce sinker. But in stronger currents I’ll use a 1-, 2- or even 3-ounce sinker to get my bait to the bottom,” Ellender said. “The good thing is you don’t really have to worry about water clarity because these reds are fishing by scent, not by sight.
“It’s not at all like fishing for speckled trout, which are sight feeders. Actually, for this kind of fishing, stained water is more productive.”
Ellender said to always toss your bait downcurrent, and be patient.
“You have to give it a little time to let that scent draw them in,” he said. “We even toss some (cracked crabs) over for chum to kick start the action.
“When you feel them on the line don’t be in a hurry to set the hook. Let them take it, and when you feel them going with it, set the hook firmly. Bring stout gear because these fish are big.”