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Redfish steal the show at birthday celebration


Last updated 8/19/2008 at Noon

My 9-year-old grandson Andrew was still rubbing his forearms after an extended battle with his first redfish more than 30-inches long. I was still in the process of giving him a hard time when Blade Broussard announced through clinched teeth, “Coach Dickie, I’ve got me a big one, too!”

The three of us were celebrating Blade’s ninth birthday fishing in a drizzling rain last Tuesday morning and the redfish were crashing the party. I could only offer words of encouragement as he inched along the entire length of the boat with about half of the Castaway Skeleton rod buried in the water.

“I can’t get the tip up,” he said almost apologetically while hanging on and cranking on the reel handle at the same time. Blade would eventually win that battle as well as several more before we called it a day around noon. Had either of the youngsters had their way, we would still be there. The action can be incredibly fast and the copper-colored rockets of late summer and fall, bring their A-game to every tug-of-war!

August marks the time of the year when redfish dominate the fishing scene for local anglers. It is dealer’s choice when it comes to fishing for them with live bait or artificials, but either way, their drag-burning runs will keep you coming back.

Very few folks spend more of their allotted fishing time poling around the marshes right here in our own back yard than Capt. Chuck and he has been wearing the reds out in his favorite venue of late. His only complaint, when he called to check on an approaching waterspout while still on the water one day last week, was that too many of the fish were more than 28 inches.

It was a tongue-in-cheek complaint as that program is all about witnessing the entire battle in a foot of water. “We had a lot of

reds in these same marsh ponds last year,” said Chuck, “but most of them would not make the bottom end of the slot. The fish this year are on the top end of the slot or larger and it has been a blast.”

He poles most of his clients across the scattered vegetation with a fly rod in their hands, but he also catches his share of fish on topwaters and tube jigs. “The grass is getting thick now,” he points out, “so we are swimming Ribbits or weightless Texas rigged Assassins over the grass.”

We started fishing the imitation plastic frogs for both reds and specks several years ago and they are an exciting option when the fish are in the grass. When that floating grass humps up and two or more torpedoes zero in on your lure, it is all you can do to just keep reeling.

Andrew, Blade, and I were vertical fishing with both live bait and Hoginars in the river when we struck paydirt last week. There was no casting involved and it is a deadly technique right on through the colder months of winter. I have caught reds using this approach from the Interstate 10 bridge to East Pass for years.

We rig live bait on a Carolina rig only because it appears more natural should you drift a little in the wind or current. It is also more effective when we elect to drop anchor and cast the bait into more shallow water. When fishing vertically, I usually target water depths of 15 to 25 feet deep.

When vertically fishing the Hoginar, we replace the two treble hooks with only a single hook on the rear of the bladed bait. The lure still vibrates when retrieved, but fishes much like a spoon when vertically jigged and is much easier to get loose when it hangs up on submerged debris.

While I think it would be safe to say that the larger number of redfish caught out of the lake are taken off the shorelines year round, this is the time of the year when massive schools of the thick shouldered predators assault shad and shrimp in the open lake. You never know if the next flock of birds is ratting out undersized school trout or line breaking reds when you cast into the melee.

Redfish feeding in the open lake will hit anything in your tackle box when they are churning the surface. When they are a little more finicky, my top three choices are a Hoginar, a Trap, or GULP fished on a two-foot leader under a Kwik cork.

The only reason most of the redfish are taken off the shoreline or in the adjacent bayous is that they offer some protection from the wind. More often than not, you fish where you can rather than where you want to when fishing the lake.

Those same lures work well when plugging the shorelines, especially the GULP rigged on a jig head. We also do very well on shallow running crankbaits, quarter ounce spinnerbaits, and BLURP Sea Shads rigged on quarter ounce heads.

Before you decide that you do or do not like fishing, do battle with one redfish in or over the slot. Arm yourself with a 6 1/2 to 7 foot medium action rod, a level wind or spinning reel with a good drag spooled with 15 to 20 pound braid, and hang on. If that does not do it for you, you can take up golf and never have to wonder, ”What if?”


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