Bull redfish.

The mention of those two words brings to mind images of power, aggression and rods doubled over.

Bull redfish are the large breeding-size representatives of the redfish population and during the early fall period they are easily accessible to anglers fishing jetty systems.

They are easily accessible -- but not necessarily easy to catch. Many anglers make the mistake of assuming any location on the rocks will produce bulls.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Just because an angler is “near” the fish does not guarantee a boat-load of bulls.

The boating lanes cut for small boats to move from the channel to the Gulf side are some of the most productive spots for big reds, but I see so many anglers missing the prime spots within this area. There are two prime spots associated with a boat lane.

The first is the eddy (area of slack water) that forms on the down-current side of the cut. This is usually tight to the rocks and will be about the size of an average bay boat. Reds will stack up pretty tight in these eddies and feed in the middle to top of the water column.

This is a perfect spot to fish a Bomber Saltwater Grade Super Pogy or Badonk-A-Donk SS – something that you can work at various depths just by changing your retrieve speed. In many cases, boat positioning is critical to success.

Position the bow of your boat parallel to the rocks and make precision cast to the edge of the eddy. Don’t allow the lure to get into the heavy current flow but instead focus on the eddy itself. Start off working the lure quickly, then slow your approach to a lazy medium speed. If that doesn’t work, try a rip-pause retrieve by letting the lure sink a couple of feet, pulling it hard and letting it sink again.

The other effective boat position is 100 yards or more down-current of the boat cut, at the position where the tide spreads out and weakens. These cuts essentially squeeze the flow and create incredibly strong current as the water moves through, but the farther back you move from the current the wider the flow. This is the spot you want to fish. Position your boat up-current of the flow and work toward the spot where you see it weakening. Again, a subsurface bait is a good bet for this area, but it’s not the only effective technique.

This is also a great location for anglers to fish with live or cut bait. A live croaker or mullet up to a foot long rigged on a circle hook and fished on a large Carolina rig is hard for a big bull redfish to resist. If the waters are running clear, live mullet works wonderfully. It the water is murky, cut mullet or croaker is better. When cut, mullet gives off lots of scent and produces large amounts of blood and oil that helps redfish locate it, but live croaker give off an auditory clue with their incessant grunting.

Another great location for bull reds is at deep holes around jetties, where they tend to congregate in small schools of giant specimens. Anglers need to be able to fish in the hole and not on the sides. It is possible to fish a hole 30-feet in diameter and catch dozens of reds but never get a bite just a few feet away on the edge. Position the boat at the break of the deep hole or just outside of it so you can put your bait right into the deepest portion.

Most of the time during late summer and early fall, and these areas are loaded with sharks, stingrays, gaff-topsail catfish, hardhead catfish, Spanish mackerel and a host of other fish that vie for a lot of the same food as the bull redfish.

This is why a large, live croaker is the preferred bait for deep holes. Some anglers use croaker up to a pound, weight hooked through the nose and fished on bottom on an extra large Carolina rig. This tends to eliminate everything but sharks, and even they are infrequent. Cut bait works great for reds but if there are sharks in the area they will hit it before the reds can ever get there. Fishing it on the bottom of the water column eliminates many sharks as well as many of the blacktops and spinners in the area feed in the upper portion of the water column. In addition, this eliminates small redfish. Big bait truly does equal big fish.

For lure aficionados, the Super Pogy works great here but many anglers swear on the spoon. A Who Dat Weedless Rattling Spoon can be effective if the angler lets it sink deep and then quickly reels it up and lets it sink again. Colors like Natural Croaker, Natural Mullet and Natural Pinfish are right for clear water conditions. Gold/Black/Orange and Black/Chartreuse tend to be better when the water is off-colored.

If there is a child in your life that has been wanting to catch a really big, hard-fighting fish, this is the time of year to make it happen. Explain to the kids how protecting the breeder with tight conservation regulations has given them this opportunity. It will be your choice whether or not to retain the fish, and kids naturally want to keep everything they catch, but if possible encourage them to release these big breeders.

Bull redfish are amazing fish that are in higher numbers than we have seen in decades. By doing our best to protect the breeders and eat the smaller (and tastier) younger fish we can help ensure this important fishery lasts for generations to come.