Tuesday, February 03, 2015

New Orleans/Biloxi Marsh

Big Bull Redfish... 
...have been on my "Bucket List" for many years, and it was finally time to make it happen!

My buddy, Doug Behrman, from Talahassee, has fished the Biloxi Marsh many times, and after very little encouragement, we were set to make my first trip a reality.  Our plan was to stay in Chalmette, just south of New Orleans, and meet our guide in Hopedale, each morning.  

The first day was cold and windy, with very low water temperatures!  (In fact, many guides cancelled their trips.)            We encountered redfish, but they were all hugging the bottom, and not in a "happy mood".  With stained water, we were not able to even see the fish until we were right on top of them, blowing them out.  As a result, no fish were caught this day!

The weather improved dramatically, the next 3 days, and the fishing improved slightly.  Fortunately for me, I was able to hook up with a small 15 lbs. red, and we were "on the board".  

As the water warmed a bit, the fish became more active, and by Wednesday, we were getting shots at fish, even though most were still on the bottom.  Typically, when the water is warmer, the redfish will lift off the bottom and "float" making them easier to spot, from a distance.  Unfortunately, we still didn't have the right conditions.  

However, we pressed on and found this nice 20 lb. red, which brightened our spirits.

Shrimp boats, like this one, were a common sight around the Biloxi Marsh, and we enjoyed several seafood restaurants that featured shrimp, oysters, catfish and crayfish.  (Note:  These are some of my favorite foods, and I enjoyed every bit of it!)

As predicted, Thursday was to be our best "weather day" of the week, and we were primed for some line-stretching battles.  It didn't take long to find and feed a monster bull red, that was probably 35 lbs.!  The big fish ate the fly 2 times, right at the boat, with flared gills and a gaping mouth!  This scene, only 10 ft. from the boat, was just too much for me, and I reacted both times, pulling the fly right out of the fishes mouth.  
Yep!  Operator error!

However, in only a few minutes, our only "floater" of the trip was spotted, and I was fortunate to locate the fish, and lay a fly right on the money!  The big red ate the fly and we were off and running, pulling backing off my reel!

 Beautiful 30 lb. redfish

...and two more reds around 25 lbs.!!!  Yes, it really came together, with 6 big fish caught that day!
With terrible conditions, again, the final day, many guides cancelled with their clients...but not our guide!  Jason Rucker is a man driven to get you on the fish, and worked as hard as any guide I've ever fished with!  Since this was a new fishery, with very unique techniques, I appreciated the instruction, and encouragement from Jason.

Even with terrible conditions, 
I was fortunate to hook up with this 25 lb. beauty!

......and the release!

Although this type of fishing was not my favorite, and the conditions certainly weren't much fun, I can't complain about the success!  

The Fly.....

...using my Bullhead pattern, I modified the pattern to work in the marsh.
Starting with a 3/0 Tar 9413 jig hook, I reduced the wing material by clipping the wing short, and adding more material, in front of the eyes, and clipping that to a bullet shape.  I used UV chenille for the body, along with silicone legs.  I needed to change the brass eyes to lead, in order for this fly to sink rapidly, yet have enough bulk for good visibility.  
For the stained water it was the answer!

Now it is time to consider my next trip to hunt big bull reds!

Many thanks to Doug and Todd Behrman, 
and our guide, Jason Rucker!

The Biloxi Marsh is certainly on my list, for a future trip!



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