This time of year, most traveling anglers are flocking to more tropical destinations like Mexico or Belize, in search of those big sexy grand slams. The bonefish, tarpon, and obviously, the elusive permit. I was looking for something a little different, something a little less international (especially in these covid times), and something a little less expensive. Let’s face it, I’m a fly shop employee and not exactly making bank. Last November I took a trip down to the southern Louisiana marsh in search of my first redfish on a fly. Not only did that happen and more, but the place absolutely blew me away. I knew right away this trip was going to be a regular fishing trip for me, if I could make it work.
This March, I decided that I had to make another trip down south. Contrary to popular belief, the Louisiana marsh is a year-round fishery. Different times of year offer different opportunities, and the weather rules everything. My husband and I nailed down dates with our guide, booked our flights, and booked our Airbnb right in the heart of New Orleans. Our last trip was short, and we didn’t get to explore much of what NOLA has to offer. This time we would make sure to leave ourselves a little non-fishing time to explore the iconic city of New Orleans.
Upon arrival, we knew that we would be faced with a challenge. In any fly-fishing destination, often the weather does NOT do what you want it to do. Our forecast was going to be nothing but high winds, clouds, and rain. Not the best scenario for sight fishing redfish from a skiff. In most cases, you must grin and bear it. Trust in your guide’s ability to know where to go to have the best chance of success. We had three days of fishing to make it happen.
In the spring, we were going to be targeting mostly slot sized redfish, or fish 16 to 27 inches. Although not the big bull reds that the place is famous for, a 27-inch redfish is a formidable fight on an 8-weight fly rod. The fishing ended up as expected, pretty tough. But also, much better than I expected. Two of our three days were very cloudy and left us straining our eyes looking for tails or wakes on the surface of the water. Thankfully, we had one day of bright sun and the marsh seemed to light up with the orange glows of happy redfish. Even on the cloudy days, we still found success. Thanks to the expertise of our guide, and now friend John. He worked his ass off for us, poling the skiff around in the wind for three days straight. Spotting the impossible wakes of fish against the wind-blown water surface or the faint hue of gold along the grassy edge of a cut.
Redfish have quickly become one of my new favorite species to chase on the fly. These fish are super aggressive towards a well-presented crab, shrimp, or baitfish pattern. When they decide they want to eat something, they REALLY want it. In Louisiana, long casts may not matter as much. However, accuracy does. I found my G Loomis IMX Pro 9' 8wt. was ideal for this spring season. Reading the body language of the fish and learning how to manipulate your fly to feed a charging redfish is also extremely helpful. Redfish hit hard and pull hard, and if given the space, they will have no problem putting you deep into the backing. They are not all pushovers though. We came across plenty of spooky fish that would blow out back to the Gulf of Mexico when they saw the movement of fly line over their heads. Just the right amount of difficulty to keep it fun and exciting.
Springtime in the marsh was beautiful. The grass had come alive and was now a lush vibrant green, as opposed to the dull brown in the fall. Wildlife was everywhere. There was more bird life, and many more otters and alligators swimming around. We saw very few people out fishing compared to November. We were able to fish everywhere we wanted to fish, without the concern of someone else beating us to the spot.
After having three fun-filled days of pulling on redfish, my husband Jake and I were excited to have a day of eating and exploring the city. New Orleans is famous for its cuisine, music, culture, and southern charm. We didn’t even come close to scratching the surface of all it has to offer, but we were able to check some restaurant boxes and bucket list food items. One thing to note about being there in the spring, is that it is crawfish season. We absolutely HAD to enjoy a crawfish boil. And I would encourage anyone else to do the same.
The bottom line is that this area of the world is so special and unique. Unlike anywhere else in the world and full of everything that makes a perfect fishing destination. Insanely good food, amazing fishing, interesting culture and history, and the nicest people on the planet. Southern hospitality is the real deal.
I’m looking forward to many more visits and hopefully soon, bringing a group of anglers with me. I am currently in the planning process and working on dates for a 2022 trip to the marsh. If you are interested and would like to be included in the email list, email me at email@example.com and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop of this great trip.