Trip Report Nawlins

Salmo_g

Well-Known Member
Or NOLA or New Orleans, whatever you prefer. This was the second trip Mrs. Salmo and I have taken to enjoy the French Quarter Fest, 3, or 3 1/2 days if you count Thursday afternoon, of music spread across more than 20 venues within the City's historical French Quarter. I tried to find a way to include some fishing the last time we went in 2015 but wasn't successful. I almost didn't bother trying this time until Joe Parke posted his trip report (with link) a couple weeks ago. So almost on a whim I contacted Cap't. Patrick May who takes clients after redfish via SOT (sit on top) kayaks out in shallow salt marsh areas about 45 minutes south of town. The music festival was on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so I asked Cap't. Pat if he might be available either Monday or Tuesday following the festival. Turns out he had both days open, and sail let's watch the weather forecasts and see which day has the lightest wind, which he presumed to be better for fly fishing. As it turns out, he doesn't specialize in fly fishing for reds, but is more than happy to accommodate. So I packed an 8 wt travel rod, reel, and a couple fly boxes containing tropical flies I've taken to Belize, Bahamas, and Mexico.

Cap't. Pat picked us up at our hotel, towing a trailer with 4 kayaks and another visiting angler, John, who would accompany us. We had to stop at a marina along the way to pick up non-resident fishing licenses. I would have bought them ahead of time online, except that we didn't know what day we would fish until the last minute. Then we were off to the salt marsh.

The kayaks are the "tupperware" variety, and the 3 Pat provided us anglers had the clever and pretty cool foot powered paddle propulsion system. I saw these a while back at the shop next door to the Gig Harbor fly shop, but hadn't ever used one. We could only use the foot propulsion system when the water was over a foot deep. The salt marsh we fish varied in depth from less than one foot to just over two feet deep.

DSC01924.JPG

This is the boat "launch." Not much competition from outboard powered skiffs here. I made the mistake of stepping off the pallets onto the intertidal mud and and immediately sunk to above my knee. There was no extra charge for the unexpected fun of extracting myself from the muck.

DSC01925.JPG

Below is a shot of what the salt marsh generally looks like.
DSC01926.JPG

You hunt for redfish, looking for tailing fish or "nervous" water, a lot like hunting for permit on tropical flats. The marsh water is muddy and turbid, so it's hard to see any fish or activity until you get close, too close sometimes. Within about a half hour or so John and I were into our first fish. Here's the first little guy I caught, about 2 1/2 pounds.
Resized952019041595124259.jpg

The 3rd redfish was larger, caught by Mrs. Salmo.
Resized952019041595143542.jpg

I did also catch a small black drum in the marsh, but didn't take a photo of it. Things went dead for a long while, and late in the afternoon as we were headed back to the launch, Cap't. Pat sighted a school of finning redfish. I got there first and made a cast and got the largest fish of the trip.
Resized952019041595182335.jpg

That was almost immediately followed by a hookup for John. He landed that fish. Mrs. Salmo made several casts into the zone, but the two hooked fish must have turned the bite off or spooked the rest of the school, and she was unable to get a bite. It was a good day with a new fishing and kayaking experience for us. And although it was all that hot, a long day in the sun was kinda' tiring for us rainy west-siders. Probably won't win any fishing fashion contests, but we covered up with quick dry pants, hoodies, SPF fishing shirts, and sun hats, so no sun burns were incurred.

About redfish as far as I understand them at this point. When they are feeding, you mainly have to avoid spooking them in the shallow water and cast a crab or shrimp pattern in front of them. They'll hit it almost without reservation. No long runs, and with these fish up to around 5 or 6 pounds, I hand lined them in the same way I play a trout in a lake when I'm in my boat. So no disc drag workout; slipping line through my fingers was all the drag that was necessary to play and land the fish. If we can swing it, we'll probably try it again if we get the chance.
 

Salmo_g

Well-Known Member
That looks like a blast, how'd you like the pedal power and were you bold enough to try standing to cast?
I thought I would give standing a try, since I've always done that in my canoe. However, barely out of the launch area and into the first pond marsh, Cap't. Pat stood and fell out of his kayak, taking the Yeti cooler, his lunch and most everything with him. I decided to see how limiting it was to cast from a seated position, which turned out to be OK. And after sticking my leg in the mud back at the launch, my main concern about falling out of the boat was getting my legs stuck in that goo, preventing me from getting back in the kayak.
 

Kfish

Active Member
Thanks for the write up! Redfish are fun to sight cast to, it must be a lot harder to do that when you're so low in the water I imagine.
Nicely done!
 

Salmo_g

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the write up! Redfish are fun to sight cast to, it must be a lot harder to do that when you're so low in the water I imagine.
Nicely done!
Yeah, it's hard to see the fish until you're almost on top of them when sitting in the kayak. My wife and I were dependent on the guide, who was doing a lot of standing in his kayak, to spot the fish.
 

Peach

Peach
That looks like a total blast! I want to try that someday.

Question: If you were not seeing fish to cast to (sight fishing) - where you blind casting/trolling when you didn't see fish? You mentioned in your report that the afternoon was a bit "dead" how did you spend that "dead" time - did you blind cast or did you spend the whole time just hunting/waiting for fish? Just curious.

Peach
 

Bentley

Active Member
That looks like a total blast! I want to try that someday.

Question: If you were not seeing fish to cast to (sight fishing) - where you blind casting/trolling when you didn't see fish? You mentioned in your report that the afternoon was a bit "dead" how did you spend that "dead" time - did you blind cast or did you spend the whole time just hunting/waiting for fish? Just curious.

Peach
New Orleans is my home pond so the duck ponds serve me well in between steelhead and salmon escapes. My friend has a bay boat that takes skinny water. He hunts / sight fishes from the bow platform and likes to sneak up on them. Conditions need to be good, and if wind is calm, you will see some that way. I get bored waiting to cast, so blind casting to those beckoning little cove spots I know they hide in works for me. He gets pissed when the boat rocks. We strip relatively small, yellow bass poppers, but slow sinking green/pink streamers work well. Just remember to keep stripping when the chase is on and strip-set hard like Coho at all surface boils. A “trout lift” of the rod simply will not set the hook. Never wait for a tug.
 

Thrasybulus

The New Fly Fisherman
Nice report! Catching Redfish on the fly is fun, especially the sight fishing aspect. However, unless the fish is 15 pounds or bigger the fight is not spectacular compared to other salt water species. They pull firmly and predictably with some head shakes, and it is over fairly quickly. It is always fun to visit New Orleans and exploring the grass flats of the Mississippi delta is a must. NOLA area gets the big Redfish starting late August through early December.
 

Salmo_g

Well-Known Member
That looks like a total blast! I want to try that someday.

Question: If you were not seeing fish to cast to (sight fishing) - where you blind casting/trolling when you didn't see fish? You mentioned in your report that the afternoon was a bit "dead" how did you spend that "dead" time - did you blind cast or did you spend the whole time just hunting/waiting for fish? Just curious.

Peach
No blind casting. We paddled around looking for tailing fish or "nervous water" that gives away the presence of redfish, much like when hunting permit on tropical flats.
 

Salmo_g

Well-Known Member
Nice report! Catching Redfish on the fly is fun, especially the sight fishing aspect. However, unless the fish is 15 pounds or bigger the fight is not spectacular compared to other salt water species. They pull firmly and predictably with some head shakes, and it is over fairly quickly. It is always fun to visit New Orleans and exploring the grass flats of the Mississippi delta is a must. NOLA area gets the big Redfish starting late August through early December.
I was telling a friend about our trip, and he said not to underestimate redfish. I'd like to hook that 15 pound specimen. These fish ranged from 2 1/2 to 6 pounds, and I just hand lined them in, the same as when I'm trout fishing in lakes from my pram. No disc drag was necessary, nor backing line as it turned out.
 

Thrasybulus

The New Fly Fisherman
When I hooked into my first big NOLA Redfish my cajun guide warned me it was going to run hard and pull line off the reel onto the backing. Just to mess with the guide, I fought the fish hard (tarpon style) to keep it from earning the reel. Every time it turned to run I laid the leader down its back and clamped down on the line with my fingers enduring the pain in silence. Despite my line burns, it never earned the reel and my guide was shocked. After boating the fish he inspected it for signs of disease or wounds that would explain its lackluster fight. I was chuckling to myself the rest of the day while he thought up reasons why the Reds were sluggish that day.
 

Latest posts

Top