I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve been in the Louisiana marsh chasing tails with my fly rod! With all this heat and the opportunity to put a big hurt on the mangrove snapper (I made another weekend trip with my buddy in Fourchon), I just haven’t had the urge to go. That all changed this weekend when I realized that I would be home alone. My son was out of town on a bachelor party and my wife was in Philly on business. A cool front in the middle of the week brought the temperatures down to record lows and I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to check out some old spots and maybe a few new ones too.
I got a late start but with the full moon the night before, I didn’t really mind. I didn’t think the fish were going to feed until later in the day. The weather was near perfect. There was just a slight breeze and even that slacked down at one point and Bay Laurier looked like a gigantic sheet of glass…with tiny baitfish dancing on it. 🙂
I tried fishing the south side of Highway one on the recommendation of a friend but all I saw was one huge drum that I cast to for about a half hour. I never could get it to even look at the fly. I saw lots of sheepshead and mullet but not a single redfish.
I paddled back to my car and launched on the other side of the highway. A short paddle to one of my spots that produced early this summer revealed to me that all the grass that had been holding baitfish (and the red predators with the black spot on their tail) had all disappeared. A buddy of mine said that the salinity rises during the summer and kills it off. Anyway, I kept working all my old spots and didn’t see a redfish until 11:30. I was leaving an area of broken marsh ponds with I spotted a nice 18-inch redfish that had gotten in a little shallow ditch. I slowed my kayak down and tried not to spook it. My first cast was bad…over my back right shoulder. I used my push pole to back myself up just a little bit and I spotted the fish a little further in the marsh. This time my cast was right on and I had my first fish of the day.
I searched again but the only real action I saw was a multitude of baitfish and mullet. Every now and then, I would see a sheepshead but I couldn’t get them to eat a fly. That’s when I tied on a purple and gold bunny streamer that my buddy tied for me. He is a novice tier but he has gotten real good lately and he asked me to fish with one of his creations. I think I was in my 5th cast or so, when I hooked a 14 inch speckled trout.
I was determined to catch another redfish so I paddled on over to some of my favorite spots. I saw one bull red cruising the bank. It was almost right under my kayak by the time I noticed it and it passed me by before I could even swing a fly at it. Finally, I got to one of my money ponds only to find out that there was no grass in it either. In fact, it was very murky. However there was a ton of baitfish (mullet) that was feeding on the decomposing grass. That’s when I saw a very large wake heading toward me. I put the streamer right in front of it and it immediately exploded on the fly. I fought the redfish for about five minutes and it got off. I kept trying to get more fish to eat my fly. I had a fish (the same fish I think) that I actually stuck with the fly. It immediately got off. I saw it about five minutes later near the same area and it tried to eat the fly again. Again, it only ate the back of the fly and never felt the hook.
The winning tactic for me was to anchor my kayak in the middle of the pond/flat and wait for a cruising redfish to get near me. Because of the murky water, I would only see them when they were about 10 – 15 feet away from me. It meant that I would have to make a fast, accurate cast without spooking them. I can tell you that I missed several fish that way but my persistence paid off and I did land a 24 inch red.
I put a tag in it and released it to fight another day. I ended up spending 9 hours on the water and had caught three fish. Can I tell you I still had a great time! I will, however, wait until the fall to go back there again. By then, the redfish will be schooling.