I owe you folks an apology. I’ve been so caught up in the happenings of the past few weeks that I’ve completely neglected knocking out this trip report from the Big Easy. I’ve told and retold the stories to friends and family countless times, so it’s time to share with the rest of you.
With that said, I’d been looking forward to this trip for quite some time. I’m originally from southwest Louisiana, so that automatically means I’m Cajun, except for the people that know better Honestly, my hometown is about 20 minutes from the Texas border, so I’m closer to Texan than Cajun, but I always crack a smile when I mention where I’m from and people jump to that conclusion.
Regardless of the exact logistics, a return to The Motherland was originally planned by my wife and I as a one-year anniversary trip, but due to a change in job, she wasn’t able to make it this go-around. I decided to make the best of it, and planned to drive over and spend some time with my little brother, who’s currently a junior in the architecture program over at LSU.
I drove the 9 hours or so east on I10, which happens to be one of my favorite drives in the country. Once you get right east of Lafayette or so, you end up over the Atchafalaya Basin, which is the largest swamp in the country.
Plus, you get to drive over places with cool names.
Little bro and I arrived in town right smack during rush hour, which was surprisingly tame compared to local traffic here in Austin. We checked in to our room, headed out for some fresh seafood, and called it an early evening, as we both knew what awaited us the next day.
Our guide, Captain Greg Dini, picked us up before daybreak the next morning. Captain Greg is considered to be one of the best redfish guides in the area, and has been getting some great exposure recently with some of the filmwork he’s done. You may have seen his video Riding High from the Drake 5 Minute Films back at IFTD in August. He was a fantastic guide, and we really enjoyed spending the day with him out in the Venice Marsh.
This was Kyle and I’s first time fishing out of a skiff, so we only had a vague idea of what to expect. What I personally didn’t expect is how fast things happened. As soon as we poled into the first area, we had two 30+ pound fish cruising right at us on top. By the time I picked my jaw up off the casting platform, those jokers were well out of casting range.
Now, the weather was supposed to be ideal. Supposed to be, being the key phrase there. The forecast called for mostly sunny skies, but it ended up being overcast for the majority of the day with a pretty stout wind. This made it really tough to spot fish, even in the crystal clear 4′ of water they were in. We spooked a ton of fish with the boat that we just couldn’t see until it was too late.
Finally, after a few unproductive hours, we were cutting through cane-surrounded inlet, and I spotted a fish right in front of the boat.
I don’t remember casting. I don’t remember setting the hook. All I remember is my reel screaming like a stuck pig as the beast of a fish cut right through the cane into the open water beyond.
“You probably shouldn’t let him get in the cane,” my brother advised.
Thankfully, I was able to get my line untangled from the cane as Greg poled us back out into the open water. I was halfway into my backing at this point, as Mr. Redfish headed out towards the horizon. As I finally was able to put the rod to him, I realized this was the first time ever I felt under gunned gear-wise. Luckily, the whoopin’ stick held out, even though I was sure it was going to break.
After an epic battle that left my little girl arms convulsing, I finally had my first redfish. And oh what a redfish she was!
I love the spots on these fish. Each fish is different and unique in the way they’re spotted. I think that’s really cool.
After a bit of celebration, it was Kyle’s turn on the casting deck, and it wasn’t long before he got his first as well.
We continued to swap back and forth, each catching a few more fish. I lost another bruiser right at the boat, and had another “small” 8-lber, while Kyle ended up a with a couple more as well. The conditions made it tough, and my casting certainly wasn’t up to snuff, but we’d get a few shots every time the sun would peak out from the clouds for a few seconds.
I’m pretty sure the last fish of the day will be something that will live on in my head forever. Coming around a corner, Greg spotted a nice fish a ways out. I made a terrible cast that was short by quite a few feet. I was about to pick up and recast, when the fish barreled over so fast, it pushed a rooster-tail wake of water out behind it. It crushed my fly, and took off. It was like being hooked to a battleship, but after another tough fight, we got her in as well.
We called it a day on that note. It was around 4:30, and we had a decent ride back to the dock, and all wanted to make it back to town before the big LSU-Bama game that night.
Honestly, this trip lived up to all of my expectations. It was great to get to spend some time with my brother out in the marsh. Captain Dini was a great guide, and while very patient with our casting, was always eager have a bit of fun with us when we blew a shot completely.
Pretty sure I’m ruined now. Trout be damned; I can’t wait to get back to the salt.