Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Battle of the Bulls

I feel pretty safe to say that every fisherman at some point in time will reflect back to their "best day" on the water; thinking back to the time where the fishing was incredible or when you landed the biggest fish of your life. Heck, that is one of the reasons that we fish. Those are memories that you will never forget. For me, the "best night" that I ever had on the water was a few weeks ago when Marty Mood and I put a whoppin' on some Pensacola bull redfish. Honestly, I have not stopped thinking about that trip. The drag screamin', bull ridin', head shakin', top water blow ups, and power runs kept playing in my head every single day. I finally said enough was enough and went back out to a local bridge in Panama City.

Once again, the conditions at Dupont Bridge were awesome; low winds with a steady outgoing tide. I was formulating my game plan for the evening as I paddled out to a certain section of lights. I didn't get very far when I saw a huge commotion followed by a load roar from a big fish busting bait under the light line right next to me. Instincts kicked in and within seconds I had my heavy spinning rod out and pitched out my big jerkshad. Just like the TV shows would go, FISH ON! First cast of the night yielded a 40 1/4" bull red, great start if you ask me.

I could hear bull reds terrorizing baitfish up and down the bridge system as I was setting up my camera for the photo session. After a couple of shots and a quick release, it was time for number 2. As I was releasing this fish, another big red was going ballistic in the same spot I caught the last one. Round 2, FIGHT!!

32" bull red. Just look at the color of this fish!

Over the next few hours, I had nonstop action! There was no crazy tactic or method that I used. I only threw a 6" Z-Man's jerk shad on a 1/8 oz Marsh Works Bull Red jig head. You didn't need to use live bait or heavy jigs. The fish were up to all night long and crushing anything that was in front of them. I did have one crazy experience as a big bull smashed my lure as I'm getting ready to pull it out of the water for the next cast. My heart skipped a beat as I just held on to the rod and made sure that I did not fall out of the yak. This 39" bull had the coolest looking tail that I have ever seen!

I only fished under a couple of lights all night and watched the parade of bulls cruise the light line of the bridge. I honestly did not go 10 minutes without hooking up. At one point, I had 4 bulls in 4 casts! It was getting late and I decided that I was only going to fish until midnight. You know it was a good night when you hands and arms were sore from fighting with the bulls. I caught a big bull on my first cast and I wanted to catch one on my last.  At 11:52pm, I hooked up again with another nice red. This fish pulled more drag than any other fish did all night long. Getting the first glimpse in my head lamp beam and I could see why. This 41" put up an amazing fight!

That was the icing on the cake! The biggest fish of the night was the last fish of the night. When the smoke cleared from the "Battle of the Bulls", I was left with landing 15 fish between 32" and 41" and losing 5. In all honestly, I left these fish biting. I could still hear big reds smashing bait on the surface. Part of me wanted to stay out but I had a ton of studying to do the next day. Hey, you have to weigh everything out. One thing is for certain, I will not be able to stop thinking about my new "best night"!

~See ya on the water!


  1. This is great Richie. You a lucky dude.

  2. NICE REDS! I am dying to get into some one day.

  3. Thanks guys! Yes, I feel fortunate to be able to get on these fish 5 minutes away from my hotel room. If I didn't have homework, I'd be on them every night!!

    1. Nice work Richie! I remember that bridge, although I recall it being a fairly tall bridge, not like the HRBT. Do I remember correctly? Hope you can get back out there a couple of more times before coming home.

  4. This is just so incredible. Grandma always says, "when you live a good clean life and are good to people, good things come to you".
    Grammie isn't playin. This is just the best fishing I have ever seen. Too bad about the movie set-up. Theres always another day.
    Stay safe, we miss you.

  5. PS, that was one awesome looking fish tail.

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