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Bull Reds Ride the Tide

Bull Reds Ride the Tide
Bull Reds Ride the Tide

Sky-high view of a big school of redfish off Northeast Florida.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDbA3mTYVlw



You never know what you're going to find, but it's good to have a friend there with a camera to catch it, just in case. That's what Capt. Jeremy Alvarez was thinking an on off-day for his charter fishing recently. He runs Regardless Fishing Charters out of Mayport, and with gorgeous weather and his day free, he arranged a trip with friends including Mike Pedigo, who shoots drone video.

“We were poking around the inlet at first, but then we moved out. We've had a ton of bait showing up with the pogies and we found the rip line from the St. Johns River with the tide going out, and it was a nice setup. We were hoping for some mantas or tripletail or cobia. After hanging on that rip line awhile, we looked up ahead and there were the reds, just bunched up together, moving through. Obviously anything you put in their path, they're going to eat. We were two to three miles off the beach, and we'd fish them and hook up and then they might move off and we'd find them again.



“I've only seen those schools of big reds a handful of times out there,” Alvarez said. “The old timers say they used to see it a lot more often back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. It's just about being out there, and stumbling across them when it's the time. With the weather this year, it's been tough for sight fishing, so getting to see those fish was a real find.”



Pedigo's video and drone work of the guys fishing the school is worth a look. It's pretty stunning.



Florida Sportsman's Rick Ryals has been fishing those same Jacksonville waters for more than 50 years, and he's been following the return of big reds to the region.



“Pre-net ban in '95,” Ryals says, “when we used to have plenty of them, it was common to see them on the surface in the fall, 10 to 15 miles offshore. We could actually go out and target them, probably during a spawning run. But also back then, spotter planes would find those fish on the surface and then boats would go and net them. We've never seen ‘em since, but here in just the last few years we've started to see them again. Only two or three times a year do I hear about sightings, and I've only personally seen them in the fall.



“I'm not sure why we don't see them more often, the way we used to—maybe the fish learned not to come up on the surface like that,” Ryals offers. “I do know that we've got a lot more big bull redfish in at least 50 years, I'd say, but it's still very rarely that we get to see them out on the surface like that. But the comeback of those fish is a great success story, that's for sure.”




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