Awww Rats! (Port Sulphur, LA 10-9-2016)

Wind: 10-15 – Northeast

Tide: good range of over a foot, and my favorite, a falling tide!!!!

Water Level: average, water line dropped below marsh grass about noon

Water Temperature: neutral to touch

Water Clarity: poor

Weather/sky: sunny

Temperature: 65 F early, ~ 80 F for high

Moon: Waxing, almost half full

Solunar period: major period @ 7:30-9:30 a.m. major period, minor around 2 p.m., periods seemed to match the bite

Time on the water: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6.5 miles

Other fishers: Brian (Dr. Wahoo)

The weather conditions (windy, front from the N, high pressure) and familiarity with the area told me that there would be dirty water, and it held true. No sight fishing today. So I left my fly rods at home and went to the conventional tackle – two spinning and two bait casting rigs – outfitted with spoons, in-line spinner baits, and Gulp! Baits with a light jig head.

The tide was forecast to drop out later through the morning and into the afternoon, so that part was setting up nicely for fishing. The only snag in the scenario was the dirty water that would come from the high winds. This area does not have too much aquatic weed cover, and the bottom is mud, so winds really churn it up. Winds with a northerly or westerly component also blow out the water. This can be a good thing because it forces the fish out of the grass and into more restricted, deeper spots.

This time of year the trout are migrating back to inshore areas and it’s time for them to show up in the marsh. So I try to throw lures that both the trout and redfish like. The Gulp! baits (shrimp, swimming mullet) are good choices to catch both species. I will troll a Gulp! under a cork behind me as I cast to spots looking for redfish with a spoon or spinner bait. The scent of the Gulp! lures may help the fish locate the bait when the water is dirty. Fish have to find the lure to bite it.

I planned to fish with Brian, and so I wanted an area where we could fish together and still not be too close for comfort. I picked a couple of narrow canals that ran parallel to one another that emptied into a large series of ponds where we would meet up. Brian took one and I took the other. I had not gone too far when I hit some trout at an elbow in the canal. There was good current swirling around and I got about a half dozen trout strikes in a row. I lost the first and best one of about 16” at the kayak. If I had been seriously collecting fish I would have tried to net it instead of lifting it into the kayak. The same thing happened a few more times throughout the day. I kept a few that I flipped in the kayak and will use them for a trout cake recipe.

As soon as I got away from the launch I tasted a drop of water – nice and salty – maybe 10 to 15 parts per thousand I guessed. I fished down my canal, casting into little pockets and drains. The dropping tide was pushing the reds out of hiding spots up in the grass, and they were hanging around waiting for the tide to go back up. I threw a Gulp! (purple/chartreuse shrimp) and a Seein’ Spots in-line spinner bait (Salt Water Assassin, chicken on a chain pattern). I like the spinner fished as slow as possible. I think the action of the spinning gold blade helps the fish locate the bait. I cast into a cut and got a chunky 23” red to bite the spinner. It fought like a bigger fish and it took a few minutes to wear it down. That would be my best fish of the day. I would go on to catch five more smaller slot reds on the spinner and on Gulp! baits.

The remarkable thing for this day was the undersized “rat” redfish that were everywhere. I quit counting after I landed about a dozen, and I got at least that many or more by the end of the day. The muddy water and sunny conditions made them take on a sort of steely bronze color rather than that pumpkin orange color that they have over in Delacroix. They kept fooling me, making me think I had a nice speck at first until I got a better look. The little redfish and the small trout tore up several of my Gulp! baits. A few were snatched right off the jig head. I was left with a bunch of spent baits at the end of the day. Since it was sunny with dirty water, I switched to a chartreuse swimming mullet and that seemed to draw more strikes. Chartreuse is a recommended color for sunny days with muddy water conditions, and it seemed to do the trick. I could use the Gulp! baits for about 3 fish, on average. Usually the tail was ripped off or it got so mangled that it wouldn’t stay on the jig head anymore.

I missed a nice redfish in the upper slot/ small bull category. I was casting into a drain about 2 pm and it hit my Gulp! swimming mullet. It took off at 90 degrees to the left, half out of the water, swimming across a shallow flat and I saw the lure pull out of its mouth. That was the fish I had been waiting for, so I’ll have to go back another day to look for it.

My buddy Brian also did well. He caught several slot redfish, a several rats, and a pretty 30” red that gave him a nice battle.

The launch area had been trashed by some other people, so after I got all my stuff loaded on the truck I did some grounds keeping with my big Hefty trash bag. It bothers me that people have no respect for the privilege to fish in such a great state. It’s a disappointment to arrive at a fishing spot that looks like a garbage dump. I’m not sure what it will take to change their messiness. Always leave it looking better than you found it.