I originally titled this post, “One more trip to the marsh,” but if you know me, I’ll probably find time to make it down there before too long. However, now that school has started, I know my Saturday morning trips will be limited; and for more reasons that one might expect. During this pandemic, I have found time to make a few quick trips, mostly to my neighborhood lake system for bass and panfish. I did make three kayak trips to the south Louisiana marsh and I’ve had to work hard to catch fish. Early trips were hampered by high winds and high dirty water. Also, I’ve not seen the fish (most likely because of high dirty water) that I’m used to seeing in these areas…which is why I renamed the title of this post.
Yesterday morning, I decided to may a day trip to one of my regular stops down toward Grand Isle with a fishing buddy from New Orleans. Right away, things just didn’t look right. First of all, the weather was supposed to be gorgeous and the wind was supposed to be zero to five miles per hour. Well, of course we saw rain and one of these in the distance
The good news is the storm didn’t head our way. We did get a light shower but it was actually refreshing in the heat.
The second ominous thing about the morning was the nice tiny gravel side-of-the-road place where I usually launch was now filled with large limestone boulders; not really conducive to launching kayaks. I did find a small opening in some of the older rocks to slip my kayak in and I headed out to my usual haunts, only to find dirty, high water. I knew that in order to catch fish that morning, the fish would have to be actively feeding so I could see wakes and splashes. Finally, around 8:30 I came across a shallow flat with a lot of oysters on the bottom and I spotted a nice sized sheepshead. Of course, it spotted me (they are notorious for picking up any slight movement overhead) and it bolted. By now, the wind had picked up a bit (rain nearby) and I had to fight the wind to position myself to scour the oyster flat for any redfish. I spotted a really nice upper slot beauty and I cast my gold spoon fly about two feet in front of it. The fish didn’t budge. Then I made a second cast, a perfect one about a foot in front of the fish and a couple of feet out beyond its nose. I stripped a few times until it was within inches of it and the darned thing spooked. Away it took off in a mud ball and I heard the distinctive drumming sound which is why these fish are actually in the drum family. No worries because I saw some big swirls up ahead and there was another big fish that looked like it was feeding. I kept easing my kayak closer and closer but I just couldn’t see it. I knew that I would have to fan cast and catch this fish without seeing it. I kept getting closer to where I had seen the last action and I kept making fan casts. I heard that drumming sound again, this time under my kayak because the redfish had made its way under my kayak without me even seeing it and away it went, leaving trails of mud boils behind. I wasn’t ready to give up on this spot yet, so I kept making a few more fan casts with my spoon fly. I got one to eat and I pulled it out of its mouth on the hook set.
I continued to explore some new marsh that I hadn’t fished before in an effort to locate another shallow flat with oysters. I was able to entice another redfish to eat. I watched as it followed my spoon fly. I sped up my stripping to make it think it was a baitfish trying to flee and I watched it open and flare its gills. Then it turned and I set the hook, only to pull the fly out of its mouth. I spooked several more redfish that I just couldn’t see until I was right on top of them and I heard that tell-tale sound they make when they flee for their lives.
My buddy, Chuck, did manage to catch a small slot redfish (perfect for eating) and I guess he felt sorry for me and let me take it home…probably because I whined about not having any redfish in my freezer right now 🙂
So, I ended up with one of these!
I think I’m going to wait until October or even as late as November to make another trip down south. The water should be considerably cleaner and shallower by then and the redfish will be more actively feeding in the shallower water. Additionally, we have a lot of family events coming up and I will only have time to visit grandkids and aging parents on weekends. Until then, I’ll just have to make some quick neighborhood trips to keep the bass and bluegill educated to the fly 🙂