I joined fellow teacher and colleague, Coach Neil Borel, down in Grand Isle for a couple of days worth of fishing. I heard the water had been beautiful last week and the fishing was good in the surf on the island. Well, of course, that would all change if I went down there 🙂
I got a somewhat late start (left Baton Rouge at 5 AM) but was on the water in my kayak a bit north of Grand Isle in a new area that I wasn’t familiar with. The water was high and still rising but disturbing to me was the visibility was not very good – maybe 6 – 8 inches at best because I couldn’t see the tip of my bright yellow paddle in the water. The marsh was full of bait (mostly mullet) as I stood up and push poled my way through what looked like very “fishy” water. After about 20 minutes I spooked something along the bank that was not a mullet. The huge torpedo-like wake was a telltale sign of what was to follow for the next 30 minutes or so. A short distance later and the morning stillness was shattered by the sound of something big crashing bait up against the bank. I spotted the redfish and noticed that it was moving parallel to the marsh grass. I quietly paddled in an effort to intercept its path but I lost the darned thing. Not a problem, because about 70 feet ahead of me was another larger commotion on the edge of the marsh. This time the reds were heading toward me. I think there were about three of them in a pod which seemed to be nosing themselves in the marsh grass, which would send shrimp scurrying out into the open where they would be picked off by the hungry redfish.
I made a well-placed cast of one of my gold and pink spoon-flies and bam, I fish on! While I was fighting the 24-inch leopard red (it had 10 spots), I noticed that the pod kept going down that stretch of marsh, so I took a mental snapshot of the direction they were heading while I took a snapshot of the pretty redfish I had just landed.
After I iced my first fish down, I was quickly on another redfish. It measured in at 16 inches but I was still noticing several larger-sized fish working the area. So, I quickly put a tag in it, released it and continued my stealthy search for the other reds. That’s when I noticed that the area suddenly went quiet. It was like someone turned a switch on…or off in my case. I push-poled my way further down this little stretch of marsh and noticed that it was a dead end canal that got very shallow and there was grass in it. Remember, the visibility was still quite bad but in this ultra shallow water I was mesmerized by the sight of a large stingray. I curiously cast my spoon-fly in front of the stingray to see if it was interested. I definitely didn’t want to hook it…only see if it was interested in the fly. Well it wasn’t but what else came curiously by was another nice redfish. It passed me up and didn’t see me. After a couple of excited, bad casts, I was able to get the fly in the classic two feet ahead and two feet above eating zone and watched the bronzed beauty flare its gills and inhale the fly.
Now this is where I usually have to report on my fishing report about how I set the hook too hard and the fish broke off…no, NOT this time! I’ve learned to be patient, to make a short strip set, and then let the fish take off before really sending the hook-point “home.” Five minutes later and I had another 24-inch redfish in the box.
The morning bite stopped and I think I saw only one more redfish or two (both were spooked and I didn’t even get to cast a fly at them). I did notice some gulls diving quite a bit away from me in a large bay so I decided to make that paddle over to them. I tried a topwater popper on them but not takers. I noticed that the gulls were eating small shrimp, so I switched flies to a chartreuse Charlie under a VOSI. On my third cast something big annihilated my strike indicator! Two seconds later and I had a big fish on. I never saw the fish but when I got my fly back to me, I saw the tell-tale fish slime that meant I had had an encounter with a sail cat. I caught and released 6 undersized speckled trout before deciding to head in.
Neil and I decided to fish the Gulf side of the island by the rocks the next morning. After waiting out a rain shower we got an unusually late start. Neil fished with live shrimp and I brought my bait caster and a fly rod. It wasn’t until around 11 AM before I got my first fish, an undersized trout on the Charlie. I continued to catch a few specs here and there and a frustrated Neil decided to call it a morning after catching a dozen nasty hardheads. I was contemplating a good lunch and an air-conditioned camper when my strike indicator (VOSI) went down. This time, I could tell that it wasn’t a “dink” trout and I was right. The trout circled my kayak before I netted it. It was a 16 inch fish and it was an upgrade to my Massey’s CPR Tournament.
I couldn’t catch another speckled trout over 12 inches so I decided to call it a morning a little after noon. I went out later that afternoon to make an evening trip but I got “skunked.”
I can’t complain though, because I had a wonderful time on the island with a good friend. It seems that every weekend is a “rodeo” weekend and this weekend was the Creole Classic Fishing Rodeo. There were plenty people around, plenty of food, drink, music…and, well you get the picture. I wasn’t going to be able to make the three-hour drive back home Friday night. 🙂 I got up early Saturday morning and made the trip home, making a brief visit with my mom and dad for coffee and conversation. Perfect!