I went to Happy Jack, LA in search of redfish and speckled trout. I should have known it was going to be an odd day when I saw an elk grazing on the roadside. It had escaped from someone’s farm as a result of hurricane Isaac. I had seen the lighted digital signs that warned drivers to be aware of animals on highway 23. I thought the signs meant cows or horses, but apparently it is a bit more exotic than that.
I took it easy and got on the water about 7:30. There was no tidal range for the day, and the wind was mild at 3-5 mph. The water level was low, and it was easy to see exposed bank in most places. Usually a low water level means the redfish are easier to find because it reduces their ability to get back into dense marsh grass. But I was disappointed when I looked at the water’s color; it was pretty muddy from the pipeline dredging that is going on in the area. The temperature was about perfect (70 F) and the sky was cloudless.
Map of area:
I fished with a Marshworks spinner bait with a purple/chartreuse Gulp! shrimp as the lure’s body. I headed to my “go to” trout spot, but no one was home, so I pedaled down the bank toward my favorite bayou and picked up a 13” redfish. I entered the bayou expecting it to hold trout and redfish. The trout were not there, but I could see the characteristic large wakes of feeding redfish. There were lots of small white shrimp that would burst from the surface in an attempt to escape the redfish that were chasing them. I tossed the spinner bait into a little pocket and hooked up on a feisty 26” redfish that weighed a bit over 6 lbs. It pulled me around a bit and then came up and went into the fish bag without making a fuss.
I pedaled around to a large pond that was about 18” deep. I had caught a 33” redfish here a few weeks ago, and it still held lots of fish. Even though the water was muddy I could see the swirls and mud trails in the water as they scattered. There were also some sheepshead and flounder in the mix. A large redfish or a stingray erupted from under the kayak, rocking me a bit and leaving a big mud trail as it left. I saw several large redfish, but could not get a bite. I tried a topwater “Zara Puppy” and the old reliable gold spoon but there were no takers. It was 1 pm and I needed to get back home for Thanksgiving dinner at 5 pm so I reversed course. I fished in the place where I caught the redfish, made a short cast into a shadowy spot near the bank, and felt the weight of a nice fish hitting the spinner bait. It immediately started pulling drag, spun the kayak around, and then took off in the opposite direction. The fish kept the drag spinning and tuged the kayak along. And then the hook came loose. I said a bad word, checked the lure, and then started fishing again.
I did not have much time to fool around if I was going to make it home in time for dinner, so I started in. Then, something large caught my eye about 100 yards away. I quickly saw from the shape of the dorsal fin that it was a bottlenose dolphin, and it was in very shallow water. I moved in closer to see if it was OK. It seemed to be doing fine and started coming toward me. It moved closer and when it got about 10 yards from the kayak it leapt up and took off fast, but had a hard time moving because it was so shallow. I shot a little video footage of the event with my cell phone.
So the day started with an elk and ended with a dolphin….making for a sort of strange fishing trip. The slack tide and the muddy water made for some difficult fishing conditions. Better luck next time.