I created a short Youtube video made from a couple recent trips to the Southeast Louisiana Marsh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnlQvLwGzbg
I created a short Youtube video made from a couple recent trips to the Southeast Louisiana Marsh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnlQvLwGzbg
Addendum #1 – Gear.
The ideal way to sight-fish is by standing so be sure when you purchase your kayak, you select one that is very stable. I fish out of a Jackson Cruise, for the stability, tracking, and it’s lightweight.
When I first started sight-fishing for redfish, I had trouble maneuvering my paddle and my fly rod. I would push through the marsh with the paddle and then clip it on my belt. Here’s a good post by a buddy of mine on how to make one of these: https://mountainstomarsh.com/2012/06/04/dawgknots-paddle-holster-belt/
When I would see a fish, I would clip the paddle on my belt, bend over and grab my fly rod, which was laying down on the floor of the kayak and by the time I looked back up, I had lost the fish. My solution was to purchase a fly rod holder or holster. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enmYw0PijDw
That was a game changer for me. Now, I could keep my eyes on the fish while I grabbed my fly rod. I started having more success but the real game changer for me came with the purchase of the Parknpole, by Yakattack : https://www.amazon.com/Yakattack-Parknpole-Stakeout-Push-Pole/dp/B009335UAU/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&gclid=Cj0KCQiAt_PuBRDcARIsAMNlBdqutoik1sINV_KEUomHw-O2BT10wKwSsaPXq4ZUkHds_WXEfZkMhM8aAipWEALw_wcB&hvadid=182518131977&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9025395&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=e&hvrand=13129700939419524766&hvtargid=aud-840076997981%3Akwd-69281524443&hydadcr=16032_9870530&keywords=parknpole&qid=1574814226&sr=8-1
Now, I just push-pole through the marsh and when I see a redfish, I grab my rod, which is holstered to my side and in a few seconds, I’m able to present my fly to and unexpecting redfish. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Addendum #2 I think my next purchase will be this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGHf6fZTvOA
I like my Smith Creek holster but I see so much potential in this and it’s the same price.
Like my last blog entry said, “Fall is my favorite time” to get to the marsh to do some sight-fishing for redfish. I often get asked how does one “sight-fish” for reds. I made a solo trip this morning (one of my favorite big-league ball players stood me up late last night) to Grand Isle to do some sight fishing for Louisiana redfish. Here are some of the prerequisites for sight-fishing:
This morning’s trip down Highway 1 took me to my favorite water for this time of year. The tide was low, the water was clear, and the wind was a non factor until around 10 AM. Right away, I had two fish chase down my crab fly and I missed the hook set. I thought to myself “this is going to be one of THOSE days.” I got my composure and I just stuck my push-pole in the water so I could check out a feeding raccoon nearby. (sorry, I wasn’t able to get pictures). That’s when I spotted four redfish cruising within 15 feet of my kayak. I made the mistake that duck hunters make when a flock of a dozen or so teal buzz their blind. I cast to the middle of the pod, which spooked them…well all except the lone straggler which couldn’t resist my crab fly imitation. Bam, hook set and I was off on a sleigh ride.
This was a perfect little eating sized fish so it went in my ice chest.
I spent the next half hour or so chasing down fish but I wasn’t having any luck. They either would not eat or I would spook them. Finally, I connected with redfish number 2.
I did some experimenting with camera angles. This kept up for a while.
I was only going to keep three of the smaller fish (my self imposed limit) so I began releasing the big ones. A few of those would have been good tournament-sized fish.
By 1 PM the wind had picked up a little but the water had come up and it was dirty. A redfish was going to really have to make a big mistake for me to see it now. I did manage this leopard red (it had five spots on each side)
I had one break off my crab fly so I decided to tie on a “purple assault.” I caught several on that fly including the big girl of the day at over 28 inches.
The only fly I used that didn’t land a fish was my spoon-fly. When the water clarity got poor, I switched over to the spoon. I got a couple of eats and had both redfish break me off. Oh, well…
When I got home, my wife asked how my day went. I told her it was great. I caught 8. Of course, she commented “only 8?” Yes, dear. Eight redfish over 22 inches each and all caught on flies I tie myself is a good day! Not quite epic, but it certainly was awesome.
Most people who follow my blog or my Youtube channel know that my favorite time for fishing the marsh is the fall. It’s a time when the speckled trout migrate north inside our bays, bayous, and canals and redfish get real…well…stupid. They are like a love-sick, doe-chasing bucks, only they are on a ravenous eating frenzy and they gorge themselves with reckless abandon. This all means that even a novice like myself can catch fish. 🙂 Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work. My first two trips down to the coast this fall have been anything but easy. I had to fight stronger-than-predicted winds and high water with not-so-good visibility. I did manage to catch a few keeper speckled trout but the sight-fishing for redfish just never did emerge.
I was able to catch a few descent sized trout during my first two trips.
Yesterday, I decided to make a quick trip down to one of my favorite spots down LA 1 in search of some redfish. The weather was predicted to be sunny all day with a 5-10 mph wind, but mostly on the 5 mph side. I made an early pit stop and picked up four keeper-sized trout. By 8:30, I was anxious to get down to my happy place…a place where a guy can push pole through the marsh looking for signs of the “spot-tailed Elvis,” like a good buddy of mine calls it. Whereas my last trip down south I only saw two redfish all day, I saw about a dozen in my first 15 minutes. Of course the winds were blowing closer to 10 mph and I wasn’t able to get a descent cast to any of them but my luck would change soon after. I was able to get a cast off to a redfish I hadn’t spooked and I watched him eat my “purple assault.” So, within a half hour of getting on the water, I had hooked my first fish. Well, after a short fight, it spit the hook.
So, it’s redfish 1, Doc zero. I push poled my way through some winding ditches and came across another of my “money holes.” I made another perfect cast to an unwary fish and bam, fish on. Only it broke my tippet within 10 seconds. Redfish 2, Doc zero! There were more redfish in the area that had followed the first fish and I noticed I was visibly shaking as I tried to find and tie on another fly. I was out of purple assaults, so I tied a tan colored variant of my purple assault. 20 minutes later, I was easing my first redfish into my landing net.
I continued to fish the broken marsh, which by now seemed to be disappearing out from under my kayak. The north wind, plus the outgoing tide made for some really “skinny” water. This actually was in my favor, as I was able to spot many dark shadows moving in the shallows. Sometimes I was able to get a fly in front of one. Sometime they would ignore my offering. In fact, I don’t remember seeing so many fish simply ignore my flies. I did manage to get some more to eat though. I had two fish take me into my backing. One of those broke me off (I had three fish break my tippet). I finally replaced my tippet with some fresh line and I think that made a difference because I didn’t loose another fly all day. The other fish that took me into my backing was just a little over 28 inches…my first baby bull on the fly rod this year. I was determined not to loose that one and it took me 15 minutes to get it landed.
Over all, I was able to land 6 redfish, despite finicky fish, steady 10 mph winds, and very low water. I eagerly await the chance to get back out there and try it again.
Photo fail! 🙂 My go pro snapped this picture right after the redfish wiggled its way off my fish grips.
Haha. Now that’s the way to pose for the camera 🙂
By the way, if you look closely at the bellies of the last two fish, you will notice that their stomachs were full. I did keep three fish for the grill and all three were FULL of crabs, baitfish, and one had about a 10 inch mullet in its stomach. I think they are feeding heavily and preparing for the coming winter. I fished a purple assault, a tan assault, a tan Lafleur’s Charlie, a Coma Cacahoe (for the speckled trout), and a crab fly (that’s the one that caught the most fish, seen with the 28 inch red).
Each summer, I look forward to putting all those flies I tied during the rainy winter and spring to a field test. Last week, I spent a lovely week in Florida with my wife and we spent four days in St. Augustine. St. Augustine is the oldest city in America and it’s full of historical venues and a few newer “watering holes” to boot. We toured the Basilica, the Castillo de San Marcos, The Fountain of Youth, and more. Here are a couple pictures from that trip.
Now before you exit my blog, let me get to the fishing report. As you see in the pictures, I wasn’t allowed to bring my fly rod, so I have to make up for it this week. 🙂
I took a quick look at the weather forecast and figured that my best opportunity would be Tuesday, because the wind, clouds, and rain were in the forecast for Wednesday through the weekend. AND…I start with one of my camps next week. I decided to revisit PAC (Pointe aux Chenes) and do a little sight fishing for sheepshead and redfish.
Since I planned on doing some sight fishing, I decided I didn’t need to get there at the crack of dawn so I left Baton Rouge for the 2 hour journey at 6 AM. I was on the water and fishing by 8:45. Now, I periodically get to fish with a fly fishing icon. Most people just call him “Catch” and that’s because he knows how to catch fish. He has been my fishing partner for the past three years in the Fly Fishing For the Mission Tournament. Anyway, at this year’s event he caught 6 or so sheepshead on the fly! So, I tied up a couple of the shrimp patterns he was using (a tan colored Lafleur’s Charlie) and made sure to tie one of my first rig. On the second, I put a crab pattern.
You can see the three flies I used today on the pool noodle to my left.
Today’s conditions were good for sight fishing except, the water was extremely high and dirty. The fish were going to have to make a big mistake for me to see them in that water. I even went to my usual spots which have a lot of grass, thinking that the water would be cleaner there but it was just too high. I think the incoming tide was bringing dirty water from the shrimp boats. From about 9 AM until just before noon, I had the shrimp pattern and the crab pattern on. I was able to spot a few misguided redfish and sheepshead but they were 1) very spooky and 2) they just wouldn’t eat. I made several perfect presentations and watched as the fish followed the fly but something didn’t look right and they just would not eat. Finally, around noon, I figured I had better change tactics. I refuse to get skunked, so I tied on my trusty spoon fly.
Right away, I spotted a trio of big sheepshead. Great! They hadn’t seen me. So I put a cast out to the left of the group…I didn’t want to put it right in the middle of them because I figured I would hit one of them in the butt and then they would all scatter. As luck would have it, one of them peeled off and took a look at the spoon. Come on…Eat it!! Eat it!! Nope 😦
Of course, by now the wind had picked up to around 10 mph but I can deal with that as along as I can fish the lee side of the marsh. I spotted a pretty redfish but an errant cast that landed on its snout didn’t work out so good for either of us. Ahh, “there’s another one,” I thought to myself. Maybe I’m finally in a target-rich area. No sooner had I gotten those words out, the fish chased my spoon fly down and gobbled it up. After about a 5-minute or so battle, I landed my first fish of the day. It measured 21 inches and I let it go.
After I released the fish I paddled back to my “target-rich” spot. I spied another redfish in the shallows and put one cast toward it. BAM, fish number two! It was a fun little fish but noticeably smaller (probably 17 or 18 inches).
I went back to my spot but the “target” had moved on. About 15 minutes later, I was cruising a bank with the wind to my back, when I spotted two really nice sheepshead. I was able to put my push pole in the water and stop my kayak. I placed a couple really nice casts out to the fish but when it was looking like it was interested…BAM! A redfish swam in and smoked my fly! I fought this one for a while and was getting it close to the kayak when it took one more big run and spit the hook.
It was getting to be about 2 PM (my self designated time to start heading back in) when I saw a very large dark shadow. At first, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me but when it turned, I saw the telltale stripes on its side. Well, what do you know? I finally got a big sheepshead to eat my spoon fly! We engaged in a battle that lasted a couple of minutes. It too spit my hook back at me. That’s one of the things about sheepies. They have that mouth full of teeth. It’s hard to find a spot in there to get a hook in.
I know I say that any day on the water is a good day. It’s just some are better than others. Today was not one of those great days. The water clarity was poor, the water was high, and the wind picked up to make things even more challenging. The two fish I did land were beautiful. I’m going to have to rethink PAC for a while. I think my next trip south will be to Grand Isle. In the meantime, I may take a trip up north to try my luck at some big carp. I’ll leave you all with a few closeups of these beautiful fish.
I put together a short video recap of Fly Fishin’ for the Mission.
We have had one weird winter in south Louisiana. We must be the only place in America where you have to run your air conditioner during the day and your heater at night. It can be 83 degrees at 2 PM one day and 37 degrees with a 25 mph wind the next morning. And then, there’s the rain! I was looking forward to having the week off to do some fishing during my Mardi Gras break. The weather was cold, windy, and wet the entire week!
So, I’ve been filling my free time with getting some “honey do” projects done around the house and I finally found some time to get on the water this past Sunday. My plan was to head south and try to catch some trout and redfish. The weather was predicted to be sunny with a high around 75 degrees and winds from 5-10 mph. This is were I usually have to report that the weather man got it wrong again, but I have to say he was spot on this day. Well, the wind probably got up to about 12 or 13 mph at times but it was still fishable.
I met a buddy of mine around 5 AM and made the 2 hour trek to our spot. Plan A was to fish for trout. We arrived a little later than we had intended but I was just glad to be on the water and enjoy the beautiful sunrise. When we got to our spot we saw there were no fewer than 8 motor boats already around our spot. I picked up my first trout around 7:30 on a pink Charlie under a VOSI.
Right away, I thought we would get “into ’em” but that was the lone trout either of us caught that day. So, it was off to plan B to search for redfish in the shallows.
We poled off to some nearby broken marsh and began sight fishing the leeward sides of some small islands and duck ponds. I saw a good bit of redfish but honestly, they saw me before I could get my rod up to make a cast. I was spooking a lot of fish when I finally got one to slip up. My first redfish ate my gold spoon fly.
It was a nice 24-inch fish that I decided to harvest (I trade fish fillets for fresh farm eggs with a colleague of mine).
My morning continued about the same way. I lost a big one (weak hook set), another monster (set the hook too hard), and a third undersized fish before I was able to land this 27-inch beauty.
After releasing it back to the Louisiana marsh, I figured I had better try to find my buddy. I caught up to him about a half hour later and learned that he was having similar luck with his bait caster. I was seeing more and more redfish so I was determined to get another one to my kayak. I was treated to one more beauty before we called it a morning.
These “Louisiana Pumpkins,” as we like to call them have a gorgeous bronze luster to them. Their big brown eyes are a sight to behold too.
It was good to be on the water with an old friend, witness a beautiful morning in the South Louisiana marsh, and have a redfish take me into my backing once again. I’m going to be unable to fish for a couple of weekends but after that I’m going to have to get down to the marsh again to get my fix of Louisiana Pumpkins.
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