Place: Hopedale, Louisiana
Wind: 20+ mph from SSE, with stronger gusts
Tide: Rising about half a foot, low about 10 a.m., high at 5 p.m.
Moon: Last quarter
Solunar period: major period: 8 – 10 a.m.
Weather/sky: overcast, sometimes heavy clouds, distant thunder had us heading for the truck at about 2 p.m.
Temperature: 78 F for the high
Water Temperature: ~70 F
Water Level: about 2 feet above normal and rising
Water Clarity: variable, up to 5’ visibility depending on spot
Time on the water: 7:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Water covered: only about 6 miles, continually pedaling to hold position in the wind
Other fishers: Brian M. (Dr. Wahoo)
Got up about 4:45 a.m., got some coffee and breakfast, and hit the road a little before 6 a.m. I listened to Brendan Bayard’s report for the kayaker fishers on WWL radio about the time I was cruising through Chalmette. The fishing forecast was not great, and the taught American flag and water creeping up near Paris Road told the story for the day. I met my buddy, Brian, and we fought of hoards of marsh mosquitoes that did not seem to get the memo about the 20+ mph wind as we loaded up our Hobie Outbacks. We combat launched near Breton Sound Marina and headed for the marsh to hide from the wind.
Our game plan worked pretty well and we were able to avoid the full force of the wind for most of the day. One notable exception was when we rounded a point and the full 20+ mph wind gust lifted the nice white Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club baseball hat off my head. I had just made a cast, and by the time I could reel in and spin the kayak around the hat was taken to Davey Jones locker. So I went into my bag and slathered on the sunscreen as best as I could. I really missed my hat.
We fished around a bit and then eventually found some redfish that were moving out of large pond and heading upwind into a bayou. We could not see the fish under water because of the overcast sky, but we could see them as they worked around some huge schools of mullet. Every now and then a dorsal fin or large wake would reveal their presence. The area was super grassy. The water was high and I had to push my five and a half foot pvc stake out pole way under the water to get it to bite and hold. There was about 5 feet of vegetation with about a foot or less water of super clear water above it, and that’s where the fish were. I was throwing a chartreuse Aqua Dream spoon, but it was difficult to get it through the vegetation even though it is weedless. I got a few fish to bump the spoon and then a nice 22” redfish really slammed it. The fish kept burying itself in the deep vegetation, but I worked it free and got the fish grip on it. The hook had gone through 3 different spots in the fish’s mouth, so it was going to take some surgery to get it loose. Then I noticed that I had caught wind and was quickly flying away from the lee shoreline into open water with whitecaps. So I hooked on my 3 lb. anchor and tossed it over, letting it catch in the weeds to stop me from drifting. Then I worked the fish off the hook and set it free.
I threw the spoon for a bit, but started realizing that I really had to start reeling fast before it even hit the water in order to keep the weeds off. I needed to FISH SMARTER. I decided to switch to a Seein’ Spots in-line spinner with a Salt Water Assassin (chicken on a chain pattern). This has become one of my favorite redfish lures. The in line spinner bait is rigged weedless with the hook embedded into the plastic lure, and the gold spinner blade allows it to be fished slower than the spoon. The gold blade gives it the flash that the redfish like. This switch turned out to be a good choice. I was able to work the spinner in the layer of water above the vegetation (most of the time).
We moved upwind into the bayou off the pond. I spooked a few large fish; some were reds, some were UFOs, and some were large gars about 5 ft. long. It was tough moving upwind through the weeds, but we did it by flutter kicking the Hobie Mirage drives and sometimes outright plowing through the weeds. The Mirage drive can work through the vegetation right now, but later as weeds get thicker it won’t work so well.
I missed a few good bites and then hooked up with another mid-slot sized red of about 22” and got it through the salad. Then I got a nice bass to take the spinner. It came up in the air with a nice tail walk and then spit the hook. I noticed a large wake down the bayou so I eased over toward it and hooked up with a nice sized redfish. It was easy to tell it was a bigger fish because of that authoritative sound of line peeling off the reel. I wrestled with it for several minutes and fortunately it did not try to bury itself in the weeds. It did make a few dives under the kayak but I was able to swing the rod in under and around the kayak to avoid a break. I got it in and it measured 28″ and weighed about 9 to 10 lbs. Brian was kind enough to get a photo of me as I picked up the fish for a quick shot and then got it back into the water for a good release.
I hooked another bass and landed it, but it was only 13”. I also had a few more good strikes from redfish but did not hook up. I think the one disadvantage of the in line spinner is that there will be some missed bites due to the weedless rigging of the hook. This is a trade off for the ability to work this lure through the aquatic salad.
About 2 pm we noticed that Mother Nature was sending us an eviction notice. The sky was darkening and so we started heading back to the truck. About half way back there was a grumble of thunder in the distance. We ran into Carlos (100chivas) and his son, who were also exiting the marsh and heading in. It’s always nice to meet some fellow BCKFC folks on the water. I ended the day with three reds and a bass and Brian got a couple of reds. We got loaded up and I started for home. About the time I made it to Chalmette the storm cut loose. Water was piling up in the streets and the wind was howling at 40 mph, blowing the torrents of rain sideways. I probably should have stopped but I went over the big green bridge with a little nervousness as I could only go about 20 mph. I got on I-10 headed back to New Orleans but took the first exit and sat out the semi-hurricane for a while. There were just too many nuts trying to drive 70 mph on the highway in 6” of water. After conditions permitted I got back on the road and saw a number of accidents on my way in. No need to push my luck, I want to be around for a few more fishing trips.