I had an incredible day on the water last weekend. I touched seven reds and only two made the slot – the rest were over. It was really one of the better days I’ve ever had for quality redfish. The problem is, it could have been even better. It became an unforgettable day when I let the big one get away.
It started off with a nice, long paddle down a boring canal, then into some big water, and finally taking a cut into some classic southern Louisiana marsh. Conditions were pretty good for sight fishing with calm winds and low tide, but spotting fish was a little tough early on due to the cloud cover and poor water clarity. Patience paid off though, and soon enough the redfish were giving themselves away.
The day was progressing nicely, I had caught a handful of redfish ranging from 26-33″ and was starting to lazily make my way back to the launch, not quite ready to call it a day and fishing along the way. As I was paddling a large, featureless canal heading back to the truck I see the distinctive wave of a giant redfish tail from a distance away. Low tide in the canal had turned the bank into a nice sand flat and I just so happened to be in the right place at the right time as this beast of a fish was slowly cruising my way.
I was in a great spot to catch this fish. My momentum was carrying me toward the bank as he was swimming toward me, still a distance away. I was able to get set up and quickly strip off some free line. I had time to make a few false casts to assure that I was on target with my cast and sure enough my aim was true. I led him by a good amount and when he saw the fly he inhaled it. A few solid strip sets later and the fight was on. This was a huge fish, definitely bigger than anything else I had caught today and maybe bigger than anything I had caught this year (42″ being the largest). I fought him the same way I fought every other bull redfish I’ve caught this year and I think that is what ultimately led me to lose this fish. I don’t baby these fish, I don’t let them run, I typically crank down my drag and win the fight in 10-15 minutes. I can usually do this because I fish a short, stout leader that can take the abuse. But I underestimated the power of this redfish in particular and 15 minutes into the fight, when I thought I may have had him whipped, he made one strong head shake and my line went limp.
He broke me off and left me speechless. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it is always heartbreaking. What could have potentially been the biggest redfish I’ve ever caught on the fly and I farmed him.
The only thing I could do was re-tie and keep fishing. Fortunately I was able to seek a little bit of redemption in another 32″ fish, who did his best to give me the slip.
Overall it was a crazy good day, but it’s going to be really tough to forget about what could have been when I let that big one get away.