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I was not planning on fishing this past weekend, there was way too much going on for me to even consider it, but it’s funny how plans change.

We took a family trip to Disney last week and I assumed that the long road trip back would have eliminated the desire to pack for a fishing trip and drive down to the coast.  I underestimated the power of social media though.

The Bama group was down in Grand Isle this past weekend and it seemed whenever I had a little down time to glance at my phone all I saw were fish pics and good times.  It was during the drive back on Friday that I happened to check the weather.  Near-perfect conditions meant that I had to try to make it happen, even if it was for just a day.

We made it back to Baton Rouge around noon on Saturday after having spent the night in Mobile.  What should be a 10-11 hour drive turns into a 14 hour one when you have two small kids.  I unloaded our vehicle then packed my stuff and took off hoping to squeeze in a little time to fish that evening.

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I made it down to Leeville, pulled off the side of the road and squeezed in about an hour and a half of missed topwater strikes, wind knots, and otherwise dumb mishaps that hurried anglers make.  I did catch the smallest rat red in the world to eliminate the skunk, but I really probably would have been better off just holding off until Sunday.

Shortly after the last light of day dwindled on me I met up with the group at the camp and had a great time catching up with everyone.  This year brought a fresh batch of new faces mixed in with the old and all the talk was about how nice it was to not have to fight Mother Nature.

Since the weather looked fortuitous on Sunday I pitched the idea to some of the guys to try and hit some water that really required good weather like in the forecast to access it and found a few brave souls interested in the adventure.

Armed with our fly rods, James, Bjorn, Drew, and myself, headed out on Sunday hoping to find some big reds in shallow water.  It didn’t take long to find the shallow water and run into the reds, but they all seemed to be the same 18-22″ size.

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The reds were roaming the marsh in small packs of 3-5 fish and were terrorizing the massive amount of bait that was holding tight to the banks.  After landing 5 mid-slot clones I began sightcasting the outside waters hoping to run into a bull red.  I saw a few bulls, but was never in any position to make a cast at them, usually seeing them too late.

I posted up on a shell island to get out and stretch my legs.  It had a good bit of current running around it from an incoming tide and I ended up catching a few decent trout tight lining a Matrix shad across a hard sand/shell flat.

The tide was very low at the start of the day and it rose throughout the day, allowing access into areas that were previously inaccessible.  With that incoming water though the clarity decreased and spotting the fish before they spotted you was becoming more of a challenge.  We headed back to the launch shortly after satisfied with a pretty successful day on the water.

Following my trip with Blake I met up with the Bama boys, who were in Grand Isle that weekend.  That gave me another opportunity to fish with my buddy James, the idiot lawyer as he’s affectionately known in our circle.  The weather forecast had me scratching my head on where I thought we could do best that morning, Fourchon was what I came up with, a spot we’ve fished together in the past.  When winds are stiff I tend to lean on fishing in Fourchon due to the greater presence of mangroves, which seem to provide more of a wind block than your standard marsh grass.

We made our way to the ponds we’d fish and at my first stop I ended up catching a nice upper slot red on topwater.

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A great start to the day, however, things were pretty slow going immediately after that.  We fished a few tried and true areas and had little luck, but finally there were signs of life.  I heard some crashing on a far bank and instead of being one redfish raising hell, it was a school!  Nothing gets your adrenaline pumping more than running down a school of reds.  I hollered at James that we needed to head that way and followed them as they went through a small cut onto a flat on the other side of some islands.  As I’m sitting in the cut I see them swim right in front of me – 4, 5, 6, 8, 12, damn, they just keep coming!  Not sure how many reds were in that school, but it was an awesome sight.  I threw a fly in the mix and immediately got a hookup.  While waiting on James to make his way over I decided it was a good idea to throw my Matrix shad in there too and soon I doubled up, bent rods in each hand!  Utter gluttony I know, but I couldn’t help myself.  Meanwhile those two fish kicked up enough sediment that James had a hard time spotting anything and was never able to pull another fish out.  He was left with a rod in hand as I was giggling like a schoolgirl, he got a pretty good screenshot of it from his GoPro.

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We lost the school after that and split up again.  I set up on a point for trout, and caught a few that were undersize, but kept getting distracted by reds that were crashing the shoreline at a nearby cut.  Of course I had to pull anchor and chase them down.

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After the reds things slowed down through the mid-afternoon, they weren’t crashing bait like they had been earlier and everything went quiet for a while.  James and I eventually met back up and instead of heading out we decided to fish some marsh at the far end of a big pond. That marsh led to a cut that went from the big pond to a canal.  I worked each point in that cut and finally caught a decent fish, a nearly 19″ trout.

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While I was hauling in that trout I hear James hooked up back in the cut, his reel peeling drag.  It was a big bull red and the fight was on!

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Earlier in the day James had landed his personal best redfish at 29″, this beast was about to eclipse that, if he could get it in the boat.  The red had hit a topwater that James was throwing and it came from a bank in a cut that I had just worked – right place, right time.  After some good forearm pumping runs the red had given up and James was able to slide him over the bow for a brief photo op.

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What a great way to end the day!  It always feels good when you’re not sure where to head in the morning and by the evening you know that you ended up making a pretty good decision because of the results. We paddled out as the sun was setting and made our way back to camp to meet up with the rest of the crew.  Jameson and Brooks from JK Media House would be getting in later that night, giving me an opportunity to paddle the new Cuda HD the next two days.   After the first two successful days of fishing I was hoping the action would stay hot as they were prepared to do a good bit of filming over the course of an entire week.

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So this will be the third time I will have written this report, hopefully this one sticks.  Prepare yourself for a picture dump.

I got an opportunity to spend a week working in lower St. Bernard parish back in October.  Normally work trips to rural parts of the state are not met with such enthusiasm, but I was downright excited for this one.  Mainly because the marshes of lower St. Bernard are full of life and excellent fisheries.  Redfish, speckled trout, largemouth bass, and even flounder all share the same water down that way.  I’d have some downtime during the days, so I brought my Kraken 13.5 along for the ride.  I was able to grab some much needed seat time each day exploring just what this part of Louisiana had to offer.

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What makes lower St. Bernard such a great fishery is it’s proximity to both the Mississippi River and Lake Borgne, well, really just saltwater in general.  It is right in between the two, basically where they mix together.  This mixing of salt and freshwater creates a myriad of intermediate and brackish marsh that is some of the finest inshore fishing you’ll find anywhere.  It’s hard to beat catching reds, specks, and bass out of the same ponds.

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In the above pic you can see the amount of submerged vegetation that’s found in lower St. Bernard, most of the time I had to fish weedless baits.  One of the baits I liked to throw in the really matted up areas was a Stanley Top Toad topwater frog bait.  Seeing the red below blow up on the lure was amazing, one of the best strikes I’ve ever witnessed, such fun, I’ll be throwing that lure in the weeds more often.

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I fished a lot of different places around the parish – Shell Beach, Yscloskey, Delacroix, and Hopedale.  Each spot was similar, but they also had their own unique qualities.  I found clear water and lots of submerged vegetation in Shell Beach and Yscloskey.  Submerged vegetation, but dirty water in Delacroix and Hopedale.  As you’d expect fishing was much better where the water quality was better.  Fish were still caught at each stop though.

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Baits like topwater poppers and weedless rigged flukes and other soft plastics worked well throughout the week.  Flies worked pretty well too, especially on trout.  I used an EP-style shrimp that my buddy Hays had given me way back in January to do most of my damage.  Finding clean, moving water was the ticket.  Whether it was in a deep cut or bayou or on a flat where a cut or bayou was draining into a pond or bay – finding those conditions meant finding fish.

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It was an awesome week of fishing and yes, I did manage to get what work I had to do done.  It’s too bad these kind of projects don’t come around more often.  It was SO nice to fish during the week and have every spot I fished essentially to myself.

Hmm, let’s see, only 25-30 years before I can retire…. sigh.