This Fish and Game Report is brought to you by Spoonfly. Tie one on when the redfish are tailing and you won’t be disappointed!
Last Saturday, Glen “Catch” Cormier and I headed down to the LA 1 marsh to do some kayak fly-fishing for our favorite salt-water species, redfish and speckled trout. Both of us were determined to catch fish on the fly rods, so we left our spinning and bait-casting rigs home and only brought the “buggy whips.” Conditions were going to be light to moderate winds from the south, southeast, and we expected water conditions to be smooth and clear, perfect for fly-fishing. I was reminded early on that Cormier’s rule number one is: Clear water favors the fly fisherman!
It wasn’t clear to us at first just where we would fish. We had several options, which included Bason’s in Galiano, the Golden Meadow public launch (Catfish Lake area), or the sand pits south of Fourcheon. Catch said that Divine Intervention would make the decision for us, and after I made a U-turn (I passed up the launch) we thought that the Good Lord was beckoning us to fish Bason’s. The water was pristine, with very little boat traffic when we launched.
For those of you who are familiar with the area, we turned left by the first houseboat and fished the marsh in that area to the back, by the levee. The water was pretty low and we fished a falling tide all morning. Right away, Catch started seeing some tailing reds. It wasn’t long before he was hooked up with a nice redfish on a coma spoon. I was fishing with a chartreuse Charlie. Catch suggested I switch to a spoon fly because the water was so low, we would need something that wasn’t so heavy and wouldn’t dig into the muddy bottom and spook the fish. Well, with Catch’s reputation and years of experience, he didn’t have to tell me twice. Within ten minutes of making the switch to a gold spoon fly that I tied last summer, I was hooked up to my first redfish. Meanwhile, Catch put two more of those perfect eating sized reds (you know, the ones that are between 18 – 24 inches long) in the kayak. I had some catching up to do. Later that morning, I was paddling some shallow bay flats when I saw about four tails “teasing” me in one area. I quietly paddled as stealthily as I could to get close to the feeding redfish. I got one of them to eat my fly but I lost it soon after I hooked up. The commotion spooked all the other fish in the area so I continued to work that area looking for tails and signs of feeding fish. I did get to a spot that had a lot of nervous baitfish and I located a couple of tailing reds. I couldn’t get the first one to eat but the second one was a textbook hookup. I soon landed my second redfish, another perfect eating sized 20 inch red. I then figured that Catch had caught a couple more and I paddled over to him to watch him land his fourth redfish of the day. I caught two more; lost two more, spooked several more, and had one break my line shortly after I set the hook.
I decided to follow Catch and learn from the master. To watch him work is a thing of beauty. He makes casting look so effortless and he can spot a tailing redfish a hundred feet away from him. It reminds me of my brother-in-law, Eric, who can spot a bullfrog at night with a spotlight simply by seeing his green back through thick green duckweed!
My most exciting catch of the day came next, as I saw a huge redfish working a very shallow line of marsh. The water must have been three inches deep and the fish was “backing” out of the water as it was cruising the grass line, looking to gobble up baby crabs and shrimp. I slowly eased my kayak nearer and nearer to the hungry redfish, only to have him back out of the shallow water and disappear into some somewhat deeper water. He soon reappeared on the other side of this little cut and was hugging the bank as I got closer and closer. All the while, my heart started beating faster and faster. I started casting to the red but I couldn’t get my fly close enough to interest the big brute. I continued to ease my way closer to it, trying not to spook it. After having several unsuccessful attempts to sneak up on feeding reds earlier that morning, I was determined not to spook this one. Finally, I knew I was in range and I put my gold spoon-fly within 10 inches of its nose. The redfish did a textbook swirl and viciously attacked my fly. I set the hook hard and the fight was on. By now, my heart was racing and I knew that Glen was trying to get some pictures of me fighting a redfish so I yelled to him that I had a fish on. It was too funny, because Glen lost sight of me as the big redfish took me on a Cajun sleigh ride further into the marsh. I fought that redfish for at least five minutes before I was able to net it. It was a glorious end to a great battle and I felt like I had defeated a very worthy opponent. I estimated it to be around 26 inches, and Musicdoc’s rule of thumb is: I don’t keep any redfish over 24 inches unless I’m trying to win a tournament. So, I took some pictures and released the fish to fight again another day.
Glen ended up catching a few more (another big one that we released) and then we decided to try to catch some specs in a deeper canal. I switched to a chartreuse Charlie and fished it under a VOSI (vertical oriented strike indicator). I was able to land two specs, one of them a nice 16-incher within a few minutes, and I put my anchor pole out. Naturally, the minute I put my anchor pole out, the bite would turn off. Glen caught a small one and we continued to both play “catch-and-release the small ones” until we had caught 8 keeper specs between us. By then, it was 2 o-clock and we decided we needed to head on in so we could watch the Saints’ playoff game. On the paddle back in, we both talked about how blessed we were to live in a place where access to these beautiful natural resources was so easy. God is good to us and we are blessed in many ways!
So to recap: We launched our kayaks out of Basons’ marina and we ended up with two limits of redfish (actually 8 because we each release a large one to fight another day) and 8 specs. The winds were light (from the south, southeast), the water was shallow and clear, and we fished a falling tide all morning. We sight casted to all our redfish and caught them on spoon-flies. The specs were caught under a chartreuse Charlie or a white and chartreuse clouser under a VOSI.