On January 15 of this year (2019) I had the pleasure of casting my flies to some Louisiana Redfish for the first time. This was not my first time fishing in saltwater but it was the first for Redfish. Two good friends of mine, Kevin Morlock and Steve Martinez [of Indigo Guide Service] who happen to be guides out of Michigan, started doing trips South of New Orleans a couple years ago and they have really developed something special. After some prodding with lots of photos from last year (winter 2018) I and three friends decided to trek south of the Big Easy to a town called Houma where they based their operation.
When I should have been focused on the upcoming Holidays, November and December of last year was spent dusting off my salt gear, tying up flies and getting out my Steelhead fishing clothing. There would be no 80 degree sunny salty days casting to tailing fish on this trip. Literally, I took the same clothes I would wear swinging for Steelhead in March or November in Michigan. Except no waders! Kevin says “if we are in the water we are in trouble”, so no waders. The flies were pretty generic shrimp and topwater flies. I did however tie up a bunch of Hammerhead flies to experiment with. In the end I was very glad I did. With all our gear collected and packed and the holidays over we left town on the 13th of January. We split the drive down into two days so as not to be to washed out our first day of fishing.
We rented an apartment through AirBNB that Kevin and Steve recommended. Charles and Anne Gaiennie have a place just outside of Houma that was just perfect. Not to mention they were wonderful hosts! The accommodations were a home away from home and they were always attentive and willing to go out their way for their guests. We were located right alongside Kevin and Steve which meant we wasted no time in the mornings getting on the water as soon as possible. If you book some water time with these guys to chase some Redfish I highly recommend getting in touch with Charles and Anne.
The weather was not on our side for the first day. We had traveled down the day before under a vale of gray skies and they did not seem to want to clear off, at least for the morning. Air temps were also against us as it was in the high 30s when we shoved off but would get into the high 40s by the end of the day. Once we got out to the edge of the gulf it was nothing but marsh and water as far as the eye could see. An occasional shrimp boat would move about but otherwise we were the only ones around. Except the White Pelicans, Roseate Spoonbill, Blue Herons, Egrits and odd Dolphin that swam around.
I was up on deck and not to long into our morning endeavors I managed to connect with a nice size Redfish with a Chartreuse and Purple Hammerhead. The water was clear but between the chop on the water and cloud cover I could not make out a thing. So we were bling casting along the marsh banks seeing what we could stir up. Sure enough, right off a small point (always fish the points) the fly landed and something stirred in it’s direction. One small twitch and that fly was gulped right down. I fought him for about five minutes and was in a holding pattern for Kevin to get the net and the fly came flying out of his mouth. Not bad for only being a Redfish fisherman for about one hour!
While one person was targeting fish with the fly rod the guides had the other guy throwing out a Float ‘N Jig rig into deeper water to see what we could bring up. Sure enough, about 10 minutes after I lost my fish my partner for the day, Don, hooked into something that did not really want to move except away from the boat. He slaved away at this brute for a good 15 minutes and managed to land a nice 18 pound Redfish. I knew these fish got big but I half expected Jonah to fall out of it’s mouth. Don could barely hold the thing up for photos!
Unfortunately, that would be all our fish for the day. The skies did manage to clear later but we still had trouble seeing which ones Kevin could see and casting to them. There was a 10 mile an hour wind that just would not lay down. Steve, not the guide but one of the gentleman on the trip with us, managed to land about a seven pound Redfish on a Black Barred White Hammerhead. Hmmm….
Clear skies the next day and temps supposed to reach into the mid-fifties, things were looking up. Now, this might get confusing because we were now out with Steve Martinez, the guide, but the other Steve (Steve E.) was also fishing with me. So, I will refer to them as Steve M. and Steve E. to help the reader along.
The water was still somewhat clear but we still had a wind which continued to make it hard for us to see the fish. Steve M. however was seeing them quite well. Right away Steve E. had a couple shots and managed to have one on for a few second. It was an odd strike that he was not ready for and thus not a good hook set. But within a few yards he was targeting a nice fish and played this one perfect. He brought in a nice 8 pound Redfish and this one also was caught on the Black Barred White Hammerhead. Only this time, Steve M. clipped off the outer eyes to help it sink just a little slower.
I managed to botch up a few fish the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon as we both switched back and forth from fly and spinning. The wind was not being my friend. However, about 2:30 pm the fishing gods decided to smile on me one last time and they sent a nice 16 pound Redfish right to me just when there was no wind and the sun was out. Still did not keep me from goofing up my first two presentations. “No, five feet further…” was Steve M. mantra to me that day. Finally I really did get it the correct five feet further and he slurped up the same barred white Hammerhead and the fight was on. They very much remind me of fighting Great Lakes Carp on Beaver Island. Not a whole lot of head thrashing or fast burst but they just go where they want to go. About 20 minutes later I managed to get this one to the net and Steve M. got him in the boat. What a beautiful fish on a beautiful day. One I will remember for many many years to come. In the end, the Redfish got his licks in before the battle was over. He managed to tear up my right thumb and left index finger while holding him for Photos. Although the rest of the afternoon was great weather (except the ever present wind) we did not mange to interest any more fish.
The last day found Gary and I out again with Steve, the guide, and looking at some possible rainy weather. We got out on the water (still had our wind) and found that the South wind had pushed up a bunch of water into the marshes and the tide was still coming in. Not great conditions for Redfish. But things got exciting pretty quick when I managed to hook into a REALLY nice Bull Redfish around 9:30 am on the spinning gear. I thought the one yesterday was big, this fella was heading out to sea and did not care if I came along. Line just kept coming off the drag and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. Numerous time, as he did slow down and I could gain some ground on him we were at a stalemate with him pulling just hard enough for me to do nothing but spin the spool around as I cranked. Eventually, I did the deep sea shuffle (pull, reel, pull, etc…) on him and got him to the net and in the boat. This one we measured! It was 37 inches long and weighted 22 pounds! A real Bull Redfish! Many photos were taken and he was eventually slipped back into the water and gently swam away. That pretty much made not only my day but the entire trip.
Not one hour later, I am on the fly rod and Gary the spinning rod and he sets the hook into a fish. This fella took off and was not going to do anything Gary wanted him to do. I got out my camera and started filming Gary fighting this fish and it took more than twenty minutes for him to finally get him to the net. He didn’t even come close to the surface so we could see what it was until right before going into the net! This one was HUGE. Measured out at 44 inches from nose to tail and 34 pounds! Moral of the story, don’t catch a big fish around Gary as he will catch a bigger one. I think I later heard him say that was the biggest fish of his lifetime. What a great day.
The rest of the day turned overcast for much of it and the wind even picked up. Plus, with the tide in the water was about 4 to 6 inches above normal which kept the fish tight to the marshes. I managed to turn one but no take. All blind casting all day. With the two biggest fish of the trip behind us we called it a day.
We had planned on doing the return journey in two days but the weather forecast for our second day was six to eight inches of snow so we decided to push through and do the whole 14 hours in one day.
All in all one hell of a trip. The fishing was great although according to Kevin the fishing conditions were not so great. I can’t wait to see it when the conditions are great. The accommodations were wonderful. We went to various restaurants in Houma (about 10 minutes away) each night and ate all kinds of things you would not see up here in the Midwest (my wife still won’t kiss me after hearing about some of the things I ate). A trip more than worth the time, effort and expense.
I took many photos during this trip and a bunch of video footage as well. Below is a short video highlighting the trip. Below that is a list of the better photos from our trip, click on any for a larger view.
Hope you enjoyed the telling.