Dularge Redfish

After weeks of daily gales, the wind gods have sated.  My summer enrichment camp is over. I’ve spent quality time with my lovely wife.  Now it’s time to get my fish on!  I took a short trip to Bayou Dularge Monday morning to try to catch my first slot redfish on the fly.  I spent time prepping for this by practicing casting with my 8-9 wt. flyrod, by catching bass on poppers in nearby lakes and ponds, and more importantly, I spent some time tying my own salt water poppers and spoon flies.

Monday’s trip began ominously enough, as I arrived in South Houma only to find out that the Dularge Bridge was out. I had no clue how to get down to the marshes that I wanted to fish, so  I stopped at a local quick stop and asked some of the locals who kindly offered to let me follow them. I was worried that the 15 minute delay would hurt my chances of catching any redfish on the top water popper than I had already tied on my fly rod. After I arrived at the launch site, I quickly got my gear situated and got on the water.

I was treated to an awesome sunrise. There was just the right amount of breeze to keep the kayak sliding gently forward without slapping the hull of the boat and alerting the shallow-water redfish to my presence. Shortly into my paddle, I began to look for nervous water and I did see lots of mullet but no redfish. If fact, when I later slid my stakeout pole into the water, I found that the water was deeper than I had expected, which meant that the fishing was going to be tough.  The redfish were simply scattered too far apart and were not going to alert me to their presence like they would normally do in shallower circumstances.

To date, I have caught my limit of speckled trout on a fly but I am yet to catch a slot redfish on the fly. My early morning’s expectation was met with a blowup on my top water popper about 15 minutes. I gently eased a 17 inch slot redfish (the perfect eating size) to the side of the boat.  About that time, the gentle breeze that had been so pleasant early in the morning turned into a steady 10-plus-mile-per-hour breeze that turned my large top water popper into a sail.  Fly fishing for the rest of the day was going to be out of the question. I changed to my old standby spinner bait and caught another small slot sized redfish.  After a lot of blind casting to the edge of the grass and tangled fly line (my fly rod kept beckoning me to not to give up on the fly fishing for the rest of the day), I was becoming frustrated. I figured that I would try to venture into some new water that I had not fished before. After all, I had driven all the way down here and I wasn’t going to let the slow action ruin my day. During my venture into new water, I found some small and large ponds that just seemed to scream, “redfish!” However, they were full of mullet. I’m sure there were redfish in there, but they had lockjaw.

As fate would have it, I ventured about as far as I thought I could handle for the paddle back when I noticed the terrain was a little higher and had now become somewhat of a wind barrier. It was getting to be close to 11 AM and it was getting hot. I tied on a gold spoonfly and decided to give the flyrod one more try. What happened next was pure luck. I wish I could say that I made a beautiful cast to a tailing redfish and that  I finessed the fish into eating my fly.  Truth is, I made a long cast and allowed the fly to sink to the bottom as I chunked my spinnerbait to the very far reaches of the pond. About midway back to the kayak on my retrieve of the spinnerbait, I noticed the fly line was moving ever so slowly in still water where it shouldn’t be moving at all. I took up the slack and set the hook hard. The fight/ride was on! I fumbled with the kayak (the wind kept trying to blow me into the grass) and the video camera.  After about a 7 minute ride, I landed my personal best redfish on the fly…a beautiful 23 inch slot red.

I did manage to loose a couple more small reds on the spoonfly due to my obsession with trying to film everything but it didn’t matter. Oh and I did pick up one more keeper on my spinner bait.

In closing, I had fought the heat, the wind, the bridge closure, the high water, and I covered a lot of water for just four fish… and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. I’ve enclosed my video, but it really doesn’t do it justice.

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