Had an opportunity in June to get out and fish in the kayak and decided to head to da Parish so I could catch some marsh bass and reds. Summer time is a great time of year for those special places in Louisiana where you can catch bass and redfish (trout too!).
The weather was nice, a tad on the windy side in open water, the fishing was good too. I didn’t catch too many on the fly opting instead to throw a weedless rigged swimming fluke.
I caught mostly bass, only a few reds, which was just fine by me, because I was keeping bass to eat. I really like the taste of marsh bass, I think I’ve mentioned that here before, the meat is sweeter than their freshwater cousins, it’s one of my favorite marsh fish to eat.
It ended up being a great trip as I caught some nice fish and got to explore some new water. That’s one of those things I like to do each time I hit the marsh is try to find some new water to fish. Even if it’s a lousy trip it kind of makes it worth it to see new water.
Last month I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in a kayak off old La 1 and sight fish for redfish and just like it’s always been it was a blast. It was the first chance I’ve had to take out the Jackson Bite and the first time I’ve fished inshore since maybe January. These days it takes a special occasion to motivate me to head that far south and on this particular weekend some old friends from Alabama were staying in Grand Isle and since the weather was nice and LSU beat Bama I had to make the trip.
I headed down on the Sunday morning after LSU’s triumphant victory and got a later start than anticipated due the previous afternoon/evening’s celebration.
Conditions were decent upon arrival, with winds a tad higher than I’d prefer, but the area I was fishing had a ton of mangroves so I wasn’t bothered too much by the wind.
In the first canal I stood up to fish I came upon a large pack of reds marauding shrimp along the shoreline – exactly what you want to see when you haven’t thrown a fly at a red in months. I was able to pick a lead fish off the pack with a good cast and a strong drag and the pack didn’t spook, they just turned around and went in the other direction.
I released that red and continued on down the shoreline until the pack decided to turn back around and head back toward me again. I got some grainy, Sasquatch-esque cell phone video of the reds I’ll try and attach:
Again I was able to pick off another fish, this time the pack caught wind of me though and took off. I thought I might be able to spot them again given some time, but I never did. Still it was a great way to start the day.
After a brief meetup with my friend James I kept searching for redfish. I came across some trout in the process, settling in on a school that was feeding in a cut between two larger bodies of water. The action was hot enough to break out the fly rod and catch a few on the fly as well with a few of the fish being keepers, most were throwbacks, but it was fun to mix it up and catch some trout.
I ended up catching a couple more reds on the fly with one being a nice baby bull, coming in just under 30″.
After that fish I decided to call it a day and paddle back. At the launch I was able to catch up with another buddy Matt, who had a tougher day, but managed a 30″ red on the fly as well back in the skinny water. It’s always a blast finding those over-slot sized fish in the trenasses.
The fishing was fun, but if I’m being honest the best part of weekend trips like this are the hangouts at night. Nothing beats sitting around sharing some brews or cocktails and swapping stories of past triumphs, defeats, or anything entertaining enough for a group of fine, upstanding citizens like the group from Alabama that has assembled in Grand Isle on an annual basis for nearly ten years now.
I was hesitant about fishing the next morning because I needed to be back in time to pick the kids up from school. I was hesitant until I saw that the weather was gorgeous. I saw that the marsh behind the camp was glass so I quickly made plans to get back on the water. Marcus was also planning on hitting the water that morning, so we decided on fishing from the same launch, but hitting a slightly different area, one I hadn’t had a whole lot of experience at, but should yield the same results.
The tide was a bit lower than yesterday and was visibly ripping through the canal we launched into, which told me that the water clarity would probably be a little poorer than it was yesterday.
I covered a good bit of water, good looking water too, before I started seeing fish. Seems like they needed the air temps to warm up before they were active. I found a small slot with a colored up tail in a small pond to get the skunk off.
I was only fishing until lunch time and it was already mid morning so I didn’t have much time left to make the day a success, but like I mentioned earlier as the temp warmed up so did the fish. I got into a pipeline canal and started seeing fish and managed to catch one in the mouth of an offshoot canal. I kept moving down that canal and as I progressed into the canal it got narrower. As it narrowed I was spooking redfish, the water was clear and shallow in the canal and the fish were seeing me (or feeling me) coming from further away than I could get a cast off to them. I finally made it to the end of the pipeline and the canal veered off into a ditch going in a 90 degree angle.
In that ditch I could see two reds coming toward me, with no idea that I was even there. I made a good cast leading them and the smaller fish looked like he inhaled the fly so I did a strip set and lucky for me pulled it out of his mouth and as I did the bigger red saw it and nailed it. Fighting a 26″ red in a ditch you could jump across was a hoot! He ran back under my boat a few times, I’m glad I was at the intersection so he had some room to run into the larger (6-7 ft wide).
I was getting ready to head out after that, that was a tough fish to top, it was nearly lunch time and I needed to make it back to BR before the school bus came by the house. I had to poke my head into one more pond because I saw a bit of nervous water and what I saw was another pack of redfish with some of the pack skittish while the others were playing it cool. The first few casts I made were at skittish fish who just swam right on by, but the tail end of the pack was more than happy to pounce on my fly. As I fought the fish I hooked I could tell it was a leopard red, when I got him to the boat I counted 14 spots.
The fight may not have topped the previous fish, but this red sure had him beat in looks.
I bid Marcus adieu as he decided to make his way toward another pond before he headed out and hit the road home. It was great to get back into the marsh and have some success. I miss redfishing a little bit, I certainly don’t miss the drive though.
The Bite performed admirably. It’s a slower boat than I’d like, but that’s the trade-off for the stability it offers – this thing is wide. For the price you’d be hard pressed to find a better boat available, which is why I pulled the trigger on one. It’s a fantastic platform to sight fish reds from and I will happily use it over the Cruise FD I’ve got collecting dust in the garage.
Got out again in the Kilroy this past weekend and with favorable conditions on the coast I made the long drive south to fish for reds. I hit an area that is new to me, but was recommended by a friend at Paddlepalooza. Another benefit to an already long list of reasons to attend a BCKFC tournament and stay through the weigh-in is just talking to and learning from your peers. There is a lot that is lost in translation if all your research and knowledge-base comes solely from the internet.
I arrived at sunrise and worked a topwater early, but to no avail. I was hoping to stumble upon a few trout, but that wouldn’t be the case as the day progressed. Working Gulp under a cork began producing small redfish. They were tagged and released and hopefully in the future Tag Louisiana will give me an update on these fish.
Conditions were pretty good throughout the day. As you can see, winds were calm and it was very overcast – seemingly perfect conditions to walk the dog, but I didn’t have any luck. It didn’t much matter as the water clarity was pretty good in the grassy areas and I was able to sight fish reds with either the fly rod or on spinning tackle using a good ‘ol tight lined Matrix shad.
The reds went from 13″ up to 23″, so no big upper slot reds or junior bulls were had, but it was a lot of fun just catching consistent fish throughout the day. Most of the fish I caught came on the fringes of the grass or around cuts and points, I didn’t mess around with any of the thick grass. A few of the fish I caught were pulled from schools, which are always fun to see and hear. You’ll just be minding your own business when all of the sudden around a point comes a wave of red terror, with bait popping out of the water in front of it, looking for any escape. It doesn’t matter what you throw in front of the red mass, it just matters that you throw something. It was a lot of fun trying to pull of the double by throwing the fly rod first, getting a hook set, then picking up the paddle tail and pitching it in the area. I wasn’t able to connect this time around, but it is always a hoot to have the opportunity.