Bull reds ganged up around Chandeleur Island chain

Voracious fish will hit any lure thrown near their schools, guide says.

Spain’s Running of the Bulls has nothing over ours: Every year, usually beginning somewhere between late February to early March and extending into April, huge schools of bull reds show up at the barrier islands and maul everything in the water. And Capt. Theophile Bourgeois  (504-341-5614) has been flying out of his base of operations in Lafitte by float plane to wear his customers’ arms out wrestling with the hefty beasts.

“The sight from the air is incredible,” Theophile said. “Sometimes we fly around the islands in the Chandeleur-Breton chain and see huge redfish in schools of hundreds, and sometimes we see schools of thousands of them swarming the beaches.

“Recently I’ve seen schools so thick the water looked black with fish. It is an incredible sight to see. The bulls are definitely running, and they are eating everything you throw in the surf.”

Naturally, sighting the massive schools of bull reds from the air depends on the cloud conditions and water clarity. Cloudy, overcast days and/or rough water conditions can obscure the subsurface monsters.

“But just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there,” Bourgeois said on a recent trip to Breton Island.

A few casts with a gold spoon from the surf were rewarded with line-stripping, rod-bending action from bulls in the 30-pound class, and Bourgeois says you can fight these beasts until you wear yourself out.

“They’ll hit just about anything you throw, but we’re seeing great action on gold spoons or soft plastics tight-lined or under corks — and on topwater baits,” he said.

About Rusty Tardo 369 Articles
Rusty Tardo grew up in St. Bernard fishing the waters of Delacroix, Hopedale and Shell Beach. He and his wife, Diane, have been married over 40 years and live in Kenner.