I took the opportunity to get on the water yesterday (December 29th) for the last time before the new year. With a two week vacation, I had been looking for a break in the weather to get some Louisiana marsh fishing in. The forecast for no rain and 5-10 mph winds made Tuesday the only day in my two-week break that I could fish. I was hoping to be able to do some sight fishing for redfish and maybe catch a few trout too.
I saw that the tide would be high and would be falling all morning so I left Baton Rouge a little later than I normally would. I arrived in Leeville to a beautiful morning and I was pumped because the sky was clear and the wind was blowing just hard enough to keep the gnats off. The only problem was the water was dirty and high. Oh well, I knew the water would fall fast with the north wind so I planned on waiting it out until conditions got good. As I was assembling my fly rods on the bank, I couldn’t find my big fly box. I thought I had put it under my seat on the Jackson Cruise before I left home. I assumed that it had somehow worked its way out the back of my pickup truck and was sitting on the side of the road somewhere. That meant that all my deep water Clousers, Charlies, and crab flies were gone. I searched my other fly boxes and was relieved to see that I did have my spoon flies with me (redfish crack) and I had some other flies that I had tied a while back that I had never used. I decided to tie this little fly that looked like a Charlie but it had a mylar skirt on it. It looked real “shrimpy.” I began looking for trout and I had three willing participants on that little shrimp fly. They were, however, all short of 12 inches and after catching three, the bite stopped all together. I paddled to a few of my other trout spots but couldn’t catch a keeper. At about nine, I began my search for redfish but the increasing cloud cover was making sight fishing difficult. I did catch an undersized redfish in a spot where I’ve caught reds before. It too was undersized so I tagged and released it.
At about 10:30, I was thinking that today would be a bust. By now the wind had picked up and the sky was completely overcast. I was poling my way down a marsh bank near some deeper, moving water and I saw the tell-tale sign of a feeding redfish about 30 feet in front of me. I quickly stuck my ParkNPole in a scupper hole and put a good cast with my spoonfly about a foot from the grass but about two feet behind the redfish that was quickly approaching me. I stripped my fly past the redfish and it attacked my fly viciously. The fish ran toward me and I frantically stripped line in and banged on the side of the kayak to keep it from swimming under my kayak. Now picture this. I have a very sizable angry redfish on the end of my line and I have about thirty feet of fly line sitting on the floor of my kayak. That’s a recipe for disaster! I was standing when I hooked the fish but I sat down to fight the fish (as I usually do with big redfish) so I don’t end up on the cover of the Aquatic Club Magazine. When I bumped the side of my boat, the fish took off and began taking up all the slack line very fast. The doggone line had gotten wrapped around my water bottle (no problem because I was able to quickly untangle it) and wrapped around my boot…big problem because I couldn’t untangle it quick enough and the big redfish had no trouble breaking my tippet.
I knew that my window for sight fishing was just about closed but the water was dropping and I had found some gin-clear water. I reached under my seat and found…my supposedly lost fly box. So I decided to tie on one of my Black and Gold Charlies. This is the fly I’m tying for a Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club fly swap so I wanted to get a picture of a redfish on it for the guys who are participating in the fly swap. As I poled my way through some clear water, the sun made a short appearance in the middle of the cloud cover and I was able to spot a nice redfish in a small break in the marsh. I watched it gulp the fly and quickly, I had my third redfish of the day on. I made sure not to repeat my mistake from earlier in the morning and I was able to land this nice redfish.
I began heading back to the car to see how my brother had been doing when I had my next encounter of the day. As I passed a large indention in the marsh that was protected by the wind (shallow water by now) I saw a tell-tale splash and wake of a large redfish. I have to tell you, I have seen more sheepshead this past fall than I can remember in quite sometime. They are very spooky and I sometimes mistake them for redfish as they smash next to the marsh grass. This was no sheepshead though. I could see the light blue tip of its tail as it moved over a small 20-foot area of the marsh that it seemed to claim as its own. I made a couple of presentations with the Black and Gold and it didn’t seem to see it. By now the wind was blowing closer to ten-miles-per-hour and I was having difficulty getting the fly in the kill zone. Patience Doc! Patience! One more good cast…BAM! Big fish on!! I made sure to get this one on the reel quickly and I played it like a champ. It made a couple of good runs and pulled my kayak around the marsh on an epic sleigh ride. Then, all of a sudden it was gone! All I can think is it cut me off on some of the oysters in the shallow water. Oh well, that happens. I estimate it to have been over 26 inches and I wouldn’t have kept it for table fare anyway. I fished for about another hour without any luck before I called it a day. I did meet up with my brother and he had caught a nice limit of redfish on swim baits. I was happy for him because on our last trip, I had out-fished him with my fly rod.
Happy New Year to you all and may your lines be tight in 2016!