Running of the Bulls

Had an unforgettable day on the water yesterday. Conditions couldn’t have been better, the weather was amazing and the fish were cooperative. When the weather is nice paddling is never a problem, so a long exploratory trip was the plan. I put in probably 10-12 miles yesterday and hardly even noticed it, yesterday or today. I guess that speaks to the comfort of Jackson’s Hi/Lo seat.

I headed out to a spot that my friend Brendan tipped me off to that may be just the place to run into some bull reds in shallow water. The chance of catching a bull red on the fly from a kayak is at it’s peak this time of year, as water clarity is at its best and bigger reds venture further inshore, putting them relatively close to some of our kayak launches.

It just so happened the first fish of the day for me was a 36″ red, probably my best on the fly from the kayak. I never measured my previous best, but this one seemed bigger.

I spent the next couple hours catching and releasing upper/above slot reds in some of the cleanest, clearest water I’ve seen in Louisiana. Probably some of the saltiest too, I paddled over a sea turtle while I was out there. The smallest red I had on the day went 25″.

Then, it finally happened. I came around a marsh point and saw groups of dolphin working the water. One dolphin in particular was along the bank, headed straight for me. I tucked myself next to the mangroves because I knew that as soon as he saw me he would bolt. I didn’t want that to happen under my boat. Sure enough he saw me, did a 360, and swam away as fast as could be, kicking up mud the entire way. I thought he blew it for me, but in the cloudy water was a big red, swimming in circles. I have no idea why, I just knew that I had to get the fly in front of him. As soon as I had a good shot I dropped the fly in front of him and he inhaled it. It was a great tug of war that made me nervous midway through. As I was fighting him a 5 or so foot shark swam along side the bank within spitting distance of the kayak. I was worried he would grab the red so I let him run a little ways. Luckily the shark had no idea what was going on, kept on his way, and I was able to get out and land the fish. He was 41″ and had 10 spots scattered along his body, a beautiful redfish.

I began the long paddle back towards the launch, sightfishing along the way. My day had been made, I wasn’t sure how it could get any better, save for an even bigger fish. Well, I ran into an even bigger fish, a giant black drum. I made a nice cast that plopped down right in front of the brute and he ate as soon as it hit. The first run he went on put me into my backing. Quite possibly the first fish that has ever done that to me. He taped out at 36″ and had a very unique dent in his head. Probably the heaviest fish I’ve ever taken on a fly.

I took an alternate route back to the launch. It had me wind my way through mangrove lined bayous, they had deep water along the cut banks and mud flats on the point bar. These are things geographers notice. With the water being gin clear it felt like I was back in the 10,000 islands with the Jackson team. I picked up a few more reds in the bayou, one went 31″ and another went 40″. He looked out of place he was so big.

Like I said earlier, it was an unforgettable day. It’s amazing what a 12ft boat and a little courage can get you. Two redfish over 40″, two personal bests in a day, multiple upper and over slot fish, and everything caught on the fly. Most came on a fly that Blake tied up. I’m not sure what it’s called, but we’ll be sure to put up a SBS for it soon. Brendan pretty much gave me the final piece to a puzzle I’ve been trying to solve for a few years now. I can’t thank Brendan enough for the tip and to Blake for letting me be the guinea pig with his flies.

I’ve got a lot of video to watch/edit from the trip, I’ll try to get something up by next week.

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7 comments
  1. One of my goals for next fall/winter…to catch a bull on the fly rod. If the water is still that clear and the bulls are running, maybe during the Mardi Gras break. Can’t believe you saw a five foot shark in that water.

  2. That is frickin awesome. Congrats in a big way!

  3. Waders said:

    Amazing fish! Great post!

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