I took a trip down to the coast with good friend and fellow teacher Neil Borel. Neil brings a camper down to the island each year and keeps it down there from about mid-May until mid-July. I got him into kayak fishing a couple of years ago and we were both real excited to get an early jump on the summer trout fishing.
We got a relatively late start Saturday morning because the wind was blowing 10-13 and the water was dirty. Also, we didn’t have straps for Neil’s kayak so he was going to drop me off and then use my vehicle to bring his boat back out. I paddled a short distance to one of my favorite points in the marsh and only caught one undersized speckled trout on a chartreuse Charlie under a VOSI. There were minnows, huge mullet, and pokeys everywhere but no signs of feeding trout. I decided to make the paddle toward some bays that I’ve fished before that are full of oysters. I began to sight fish for redfish but the ones I saw were spooked as the dirty water and fairly stiff wind made it nearly impossible to sneak up on the fish.
Just when it looked like my morning was going to end in a skunk, I noticed a couple of sheepshead feeding in some shallow water to my right directly over an oyster bed. As I passed them up I thought to myself, “ah, what the heck. They are always fun on a fly rod if I can get them to eat.” At that moment, a long bronze-backed fish made its presence known among the oysters…and another. I was paddling with the wind and I was going so fast it took me some time to react. I did my best to stealthily paddle my way back to the spot and I set my stake out pole down to keep me from drifting. I put my gold spoon-fly a foot in front of the first redfish and I watched it attack it very angrily. I’ve learned from experience not to set the hook like I’m bass fishing with plastic worms. It didn’t matter. The minute the fish realized it was hooked, it started thrashing its head like and angry bull and it broke my tippet right where it connects to the leader. That’s the first time a fish has broke me off at the double surgeon’s knot. 😦
I quickly tied on another spoon-fly (well as quickly as I could because my hands were still shaking from the excitement of the last fish) and went to work on the rest of this little stretch of bank. I spotted another cruising redfish and a couple of casts later, a perfect eat. This monster gave me a sleigh ride that included a circle around a small island, several circles around my kayak, and finally a run-in with the rope on a crab trap. After all that I managed to land the 27.5 inch red.
Since we didn’t have any food for lunch and I had all the makings for fresh ceviche, I decided to keep the fish. I also figured thatafter the long fight and the extended time out of the water (to get pics for the Massey’s Tournament this fish wasn’t going to make it. We ended up filleting the fish and one slab went on the barbecue pit while the other was used to make an outstanding ceviche!
I fished the area for a couple more hours and played cat-and-mouse with a couple of redzillas! These redfish had to be in excess of 25 pounds! I saw the tails first and then I saw the enormous girth on them. I did get one to eat a spoon-fly. It was an weird experience. I was sight casting to a smaller red on my left side when I noticed a comotion about 10 feet to my right. There sitting still in a couple feet of water was redzilla! My legs were literally shaking and I thought I was going to spook the thing. I managed several canepole-type casts but it didn’t seem interested at all. Then on my third or fourth cast, it made a deliberate swish of its tail toward my fly and I knew he had eaten it. It took off like a torpedo. Fly line was flying through my guide holes and I was dancing in my kayak as I tried not to let the line get tangled around my feet! AND I tried not to fall out of the kayak! Then it just stopped…kind of like a stingray. As I got closer to it, it took off again and stopped. I would take up slack but it wouldn’t budge. Then it would make another run for about 20 or 30 yards and stop again. Finally after about 10 minutes into the fight, the hook came out of the fish’s mouth. Oh well. What an encounter! At about 2 PM, I had had enough and I called it quits for the day.
We ended up having supper and attended the Black and Gold Tournament festivities sponsored by Stan Brock. Stan is a former offensive lineman for the Saints and a former coach for the United States Military Academy (Army). Stan hosts this fishing tournament each year in Grand Isle for the last four years and all proceeds go to his Green Beret and Navy Seal foundations. Festivities included a live band, food (which we didn’t need any of) $2 beers, and…let’s just say… I wasn’t able to drive north to meet my buddies at the “catch-and-eat” social that the Red Stick Fly Fishers were putting on.
Neil decided to sleep in Saturday morning so I got up and headed to the same spots I had fished Saturday. The water was a little clearer and the wind was a little calmer but the fish still weren’t cooperating. I did manage a couple of trout on topwater (one on a popper and the other on a Mirolure). I then went to the spots where I saw the reds yesterday. I chased a couple more “redzillas” but they spooked real easy and I wasn’t able to get any one of them to eat. I did manage to catch one 18 inch redfish before heading in early to clean up and prepare for the long drive home.