For certain, fishing inland waters for redfish is extremely exciting.
Last fall, I watched a few gulls hovering on the edge of a marsh canal, and I knew what to expect.
Waiting patiently, I then observed the set of ripples and wakes as well as the backs of a pod of about six slot reds heading toward the edge of the bank. They were just under the birds, and shrimp were vaulting out of the water.
Once the fish reached the vicinity, I cast an Egret Baits’ 3.5- inch purple/chartreuse Wedgetail Mullet just ahead of the leader of the pack.
The bait was bumped, and I made a hookset with a sudden sweep of the rod. My drag was screaming, and the braid was metering out in spurts off the reel.
The fish made a few good thrusts up and into the waters as I reeled him back to the boat.
He was definitely a toad – a slot red fatter than I initially thought- and a closer inspection of the fish placed its length at approximately 20- inches.
I went on that day to catch a limit of reds in the same size range by staying inside the canal and waiting for the pods to come to me.
And I also caught a couple of good flounders at the mouth of the canal as lagniappe!
For the Louisiana coastal angler, it’s during the fall of the year when these bronze beauties pod up in marshes, salt canals and the edges of inland salt lakes in Louisiana. Redfish will be chasing baitfish, crabs and shrimp, as these species too begin moving out of the marsh on outgoing tides.
“It’s very good here in the fall,” said Captain Bill Lake of Bayou Guide Service. “Unlike the summer where the fish are in the ponds, we’ll stalk them on the edges of the shoreline against the banks.
“They’ll be swimming in pods of six- to 20- fish, and we’ll mainly be doing sight fishing for them,” he said.
“They could be in just a foot of water, tight against the grass, eating everything that comes in their path along the shoreline,” he explained.
According to the angler, he’ll focus on two major areas to find these fish – Lost Lake and Lake Mechant.
“Fishing for redfish on the north banks here is very good year after year,” he said. “They’ll be foraging on small pogies and shad.”
As for size, Lake said that the redfish here usually range from 18- to 25- inches – mostly slot reds.
“We’ll see a few over 27- inches every now and then,” he added.
“On a calm day with flat waters or just a little ripple, we’ll stay 50- yards off the bank just sitting quietly and looking,” he explained.
Once the anglers see activity and take a fish or two, they’ll allow time for the commotion to settle down, and usually another pod will begin surface activity again.
“It’s not uncommon to see 15 different schools of redfish in the mornings out there,” he said.
In these situations, Lake’s lure of choice is a ½- oz. gold spoon.
“When you see the school of reds working towards your boat, don’t move until they arrive,” advised Lake. “Cast about three- feet in front of them and let that gold spoon sit. Don’t move it until they get near it.
“If you’re throwing plastics, just twitch it when the reds get near it,” he added. “These techniques work better than just throwing the baits in the midst of the school.”
The larger specimens, what anglers refer to as bulls (20- to 40- pounds), also prowl in numbers near barrier islands, passes and beaches in the Gulf.
These bulls can also be taken with cracked crabs while drifting or trolling between reefs and near passes.
All redfish taken by saltwater anglers in Louisiana must be at least 16- inches minimum total length. There is a five-fish-per-person daily bag with not more than one exceeding 27- inches in length.
For more fishing information, you can reach Captain Bill’s Bayou Guide Service at 985-637-3712 (cell). He can be messaged by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.