Redfish fun in the marsh
By By Mike Giles / outdoors writer
Sept. 6, 2002
Many local anglers visit the bountiful salt waters of the gulf coast each year in search of speckled trout and redfish. I had seen the results of many of their trips and was intrigued by the photos and tales of great fishing. Last Saturday I had the opportunity to join two of our state's top bass fishermen, Ricky Smith and Hank Perkins, on a trip to south Louisiana in search of speckled trout and redfish. These two talented bass anglers discovered the fertile gulf waters while fishing the gulf coast division of the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League.
The Delacroix area just south of New Orleans is loaded with canals that are home to numerous species of fish. In fact, the brackish water found in many of the canals provides an unlimited opportunity for bass to grow and thrive. Due to the vast amount of marsh in this area, the fishing pressure is spread out and very light. This makes for some fine angling. While fishing bass tournaments, Perkins and Smith have tied into redfish that sometimes take as much as ten to fifteen minutes to land!
The speckled trout had been making a strong run the previous week and many anglers, including Perkins and Jimmy Hayes, had limited out. Our plan for this fishing trip was to catch a limit of speckled trout and then try for the reds.
After a twenty minute run out into the gulf waters, we arrived at an area loaded with off shore drilling rigs and platforms and an occasional island. Shortly after arriving at our first destination the wind picked up out of the south to near dangerous levels. After a couple of fruitless hours on the water, it was time to change plans. The speckled trout had come down with a case of the lockjaw, most likely due to the heavy winds and weather change coming off the tropical storm that was approaching in the gulf.
Redfish in the marsh
Like any good fishermen, Smith and Perkins had a back up plan. In this case we headed to the more protected waters of the marsh. There is an unlimited number of canals and coves that are home to some of the most ferocious fighting fish around. The redfish that inhabit the waters are unlike anything we have in fresh water. The only fish to compare would be the large striped bass that inhabit some of our freshwater lakes and waters.
Our first stop provided action almost instantly. A nice redfish was spotted chasing bait in a small cut on the backside of a point. On my second cast into the small pocket the redfish literally knocked the bait out of the water two or three times before hooking up. When it finally connected it was "Katy bar the door." There was nothing I could do but hold on for dear life! After quite a long time I was finally able to subdue the fish long enough to get him into the boat.
It was pretty evident that my talented guides had made the right decision to change gears and go after redfish. Although the winds were some of the strongest that I have fished in, we were still able to catch fish in the canals.
Smith hooks up
It didn't take long for Smith to hook up with a nice red. On our second stop on the backside of an island Smith had a ferocious strike on a Baby 1 Minus crankbait. The super charged redfish almost took the bait away. This fish was bigger than the first one that I had caught and clearly much stronger. It took quite a few minutes for the red to wear out. With a lifetime of experience under his belt, Smith was more than up to the task at hand however. It was amazing to me that such a small bait could be used to catch such large fish.
It didn't take Perkins long to hook up with his first red as well. As we proceeded through a narrow canal that led to a secluded cove, a ferocious redfish smashed his bait and the fight was on. Several minutes later he finally brought the large fish in. It too had come off a Mann's Baby 1 Minus. The 1 Minus was more than up to the task on this day. In fact, Smith caught so many on one plug that they literally knocked all of the paint off the bait.
As our day wore on we continued to locate small isolated pockets that held the magnificent redfish. On more than one occasion Smith and Perkins both had hook ups at the same time. At the end of the day we were pretty worn down from fighting the wind and redfish. However, it was surely a trip that was worth taking. In addition to catching some hard fighting fish and spotting a waterspout with a funnel tail that trailed into the clouds, we were privy to some beautiful scenery filled with all manner of birds and vegetation.