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Blake and I spent Election Day in his boat, fishing for redfish and bass. Hurricane Zeta had just come through southeastern Louisiana the previous week so we weren’t really sure what to expect, but we opted to make the trip anyway knowing the ramp we wanted to launch from was open.

As we drove down signs of damage from the storm increased as we went further south into St. Bernard Parish. There were power poles leaning or snapped, houses missing shingles or damaged from downed limbs and trees, the typical stuff you see after a named storm comes through, something our state has dealt with far too much this year. The real eye opener came along Hwy 46, where it’s common for folks to grab their boats and campers that they keep south of the levees and flood gates and park them on the side of the road, above the flood gates, to ride out the storm. Nearly every one of these recreational vehicles had been blown over and was on their side. Bucket trucks and linemen were everywhere working to restore power to the area and as we launched I wondered if we were down there too soon. That’s always a tough call to make.

We motored to where we wanted to start fishing and it really didn’t take too long for us to find fish. We started working some islands in a bay with no luck, then we hit a protected shoreline where Blake picked up a red.

Once we made it into a bayou that connected two larger waterbodies the action really heated up. Fishing spots in the bayou where the water was falling out of the marsh we began catching bass one right after the other. Mixed in with the bass were redfish too.

Most of my fish caught in the bayou came on a watermelon fluke I had rigged weedless. I didn’t pick up the fly rod until we got into a big pond where we could see fish. The water clarity in the pond was excellent which made seeing fish easy. The wind made casting a little tougher, but I was able to connect with a few fish. The tide was falling hard on us and the shallow pond kept getting shallower which forced us to retreat back to the bayou.

The fishing was hot and we doubled up a few times throughout the day, which is always a hoot. We didn’t know what to expect going into the day, but it ended up being a banner day. One of those days you have every so often where it seems like everything goes right and the fish cooperate. It was nice to just be back on the bow of Blake’s boat fishing, for us to have an awesome day like that was lagniappe.

I got out to the marsh on Labor Day intent on catching fish on fly. It was the first time in a long time that I made it on the water before sunrise.

Waiting for the light to get right to sightfish I started off throwing a topwater on conventional tackle. No redfish hit the frog, but I did manage a few small bass. Despite the low sun angle the first redfish was sightfished when I noticed a back out of the water on top of a grass bed. I actually thought it was a gar at first because of the lack of movement, but quickly realized after setting the hook on him that it was a red, and a decent one at that. After that fish I put my spin tackle down and focused on fly fishing. It was the right call because for about three hours there I could do no wrong. I was seeing fish with ease, casts were well placed, hooksets were tight, and fish were repeatedly brought in the boat. It was magical.

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Redfish were anywhere from 18-28″, no true bulls, but a lot of nice slot fish. Great tournament fish. I even made it a point to blind cast the fly a bit so I could catch some bass and that worked too. Anywhere water was moving through a cut made for a great spot to blind cast.

Water clarity was excellent where there was submerged vegetation and it was in most of the bayous and ponds I fished. Conditions were pretty nice too, partly cloudy with a little breeze, super hot though. Fish activity was off the charts. Baitfish, shrimp, and crabs were in abundance and that brought out all the usual predators. I even had a shot at sightfishing for a few blue cats, but I pulled the hook from one of their mouths when I got all excited.

I always enjoy exploring new water and I got to do some of that as well. Gotta love it when that new water is productive too. Days like this are why St. Bernard parish is becoming my new favorite place to fish during the summer.

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.