Making Lemonade

2020 has been a doozy of a year. Covid-19, crazy politics, record tropical season, and more. But through it all, we have learned that family is more important than anything and when life does give you lemons, you definitely have to make lemonade…or lemon meringue pie.

It’s my favorite time of the year to fish the South Louisiana coast and I was blessed to be able to find some good conditions to fish (see my previous post) a week before my son’s wedding. After the wedding, I put a self-imposed quarantine on myself to pretty much stay away from family and friends. The good news is, no one reportedly caught the virus by attending the wedding. The great news is, my version of quarantining includes lots of fishing. 🙂

So, the week after the wedding I chose to do my local pond fishing because the winds were going to be too rough for another Leeville trip. Add to that, Hurricane Zeta ripped through there and they are still without electricity 10 days after the storm passed through there. I was treated to a beautiful morning and the fish seemed to like the cooler temperatures so they were eating what I had to offer them.

Here is the first on of the morning. It ate a fire tiger deer hair diver.
Another hungry bass
It’s great to be able to fish a well-managed pond. It was definitely a stress relieving morning.

I normally don’t keep bass but the owner of the lake insisted I harvest bass under 15 inches for pond management. Additionally, my family loves fish tacos 🙂
This bass loved the LSU diver.

So, another week goes by and I’m looking forward to heading to the Southeast Louisiana marsh for some speckled trout and redfish. The wind was predicted to blow 10-15 mph on Saturday but it showed signs of improvement for Sunday morning. I checked my gear and realized that somehow, I had lost my YakAttack parkNpole, which meant push poling for redfish would be a bit of a challenge. However, it was predicted to be cloudy in advance of a cool front so I figured I would just try to focus on speckled trout.

I began the morning with a popper/dropper rig (deer-hair popper with a Lafleur’s Charlie on the bottom).

I got a lot of hits on the bottom fly and pretty soon I was having a blast, catching small trout on nearly every cast. There were also periods when I was getting blowups on the popper but I was having usual difficulties hooking those small trout. Speckled trout are notorious for snapping at bait to kill or would it with their three larger teeth and then go back to eat their prey. I did land a couple 11 inch trout on the popper before something big broke off my bottom fly. I decided to go with my typical VOSI (Vertical Oriented Strike Indicator) setup for the remainder of the day.

I would conservatively estimate I caught about 100 trout that day. Most were 8-11 inches long so they were gently and quickly released back into the water. I did have one monster trout that I estimated to be over 20 inches that got off the hook right as I was about to net it. What a bummer, but something I could overlook anyway, considering all the fun I was having.

I actually was getting tired of catching “undersized” fish around noon and since the action slowed a bit, I took advantage of the bright sunshine and decided to paddle out to some broken marsh in search of redfish. The tide had been falling all morning long and the water inside the marsh was noticeably muddy. I did end up on a stretch where the water seemed clearer and I could see bottom. That’s when I saw a large slot (or baby bull) red as is slowly cruised the flat. I grabbed the only rod that I had available to me at the time, which was set up for speckled trout. It worked perfectly three weeks ago so I assumed I would be able to cast to the redfish and swim the VOSI and my fly right past the fish without spooking it and get it to eat. Well the redfish swam into some deeper water and I lost if for a second so I cast in the area where I had seen it last. Then it came out of the deeper water and was heading right toward me and was about 12 feet in front of my kayak. My fly was about 10 feet behind the fish so rather than pick my fly up and cast it again, which I figured would certainly spook the fish, I stripped it fast to get it out in front of the approaching redfish.

IT WAS A TEXTBOOK EAT!! With one large rush of its tail, the redfish flared its gills and gulped my…uh…??? My VOSI??? Oh no! There’s no hook in that thing! It’s just a cork! So a big redfish has just swallowed my cork and is now cruising to the right of my kayak. I think it has seen the kayak and it suspects something isn’t right, so it gradually picks up speed. In the meantime, I didn’t know what to do. I knew grabbing my other rod, which was laying on the ground behind where I was standing to throw it another fly would not be an option, so I just stood there and did nothing. 🙂 I watched as the redfish swam away with my cork in its mouth and my fly (you know… the one with the all-important hook in it) trailing behind. I watched the rod tip bend and I thought to myself, there’s no way this is going to end well. However, it didn’t end badly either. As the fish realized that something wasn’t right, it spit my cork out and it took off, leaving a mud boil in its wake. I thought it would have destroyed the cork but it didn’t and I actually used it to catch about 30 more trout that day. I did switch rods and I poled around some more “fishy” areas but I never saw another redfish. I got bored with that and I decided to head toward some diving gulls. I immediately got back on the trout bite and spent the last hour of my trip catching fish on nearly every cast!

Other than the dirty water (which meant no redfish), the trip was a perfect day. I was able to take my Musicdoc limit (18) of speckled trout home to share with my mom and dad, and for a fish fry soon with my family. Typically, the larger trout show up in the next week or two, but with all the hurricanes we have had to endure this season, only God knows. In a way, I’m glad the fish were nearly all undersized. If they had all been keeper trout, I would have been finished by 8 AM and I most likely wouldn’t have been able to laugh at that crazy redfish for eating my cork.

This 15-inch trout definitely made the “team.”

2 thoughts on “Making Lemonade

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