The throaty sound of Captain Gary Taylors 31-foot Lafitte skiff roaring to life signals the start of our kayak fishing adventure. With six kayaks loaded on the roof of Gary’s boat, we ease out of the Rigolets near Slidell, Louisiana as the light is just beginning to crack the horizon out to the east. We are headed for a day of kayak fishing in the remote Louisiana Biloxi Marsh.
This unique piece of coastal marsh contains 650 miles of pristine bayous, back bays and tidal flats. For a kayak fisherman, this is heaven on earth. The lack of oilfield location canals and other human intrusion creates not only an ideal habitat for the fish that live there, but also an amazingly beautiful backdrop for a day of kayak fishing. As you wind further and further back into the marsh, it’s easy to imagine that you’re the first person to ever cast a lure along these grass lines.
Our crew of kayak fishermen came together as a trip through Pack & Paddle in Lafayette, Louisiana. Besides me, our crew consists of my wife Becky and friends Greg and Sylvia Sonnier, and Wes and Chris Franciol. As we settle in for the hour-long ride aboard the Mr. Champ, our discussion centers on asking Gary about lures and techniques to best fish this marsh.
“You can fish these outer banks and probably pick up some trout as well as reds,” said Gary. If you head back inside, you’ll probably mostly be targeting redfish.” He went on to say, “On the interior, you’ll want to target drains and trenasses where you see moving water. Also keep an eye out for the shallow ponds in behind these drains as you can sometimes find tailing reds.”
Once the Mr. Champ was anchored, we all pitched in to get the kayaks in the water. We were dropped off in pairs to give each couple ample undisturbed territory to fish. Becky and I launched last and headed back into the marsh. Every fisherman knows the feeling of seeing “fishy” looking water. The beautifully clean tide oozing through the marsh created so much fishy looking water that it was hard to decide where to cast first!
I started off working a Super Spook Jr. up the grass lines while Becky was throwing a glow and chartreuse cocahoe on a quarter ounce jighead. It didn’t take long for the excitement to begin. On my third cast the quiet morning was shattered by the awesome sound of a redfish sucking a lure off the top of the water. There may be no better sound in the world to a fisherman than a big fish hitting a topwater lure with abandon. Not to be outdone, Becky was quickly onto another red that had her on a “Cajun Sleigh Ride,” making runs in all directions.
As the sun climbed higher, we came upon a shallow pond. We cautiously entered the pond—making sure not to send any ripples of warning out to the fish that may be in the pond. We both stood in our kayaks and spread out searching for V wakes, tails and backs of redfish. After a 20-minute search the reds were located in the southeastern corner of the pond. We quickly re-rigged our rods, putting on lightweight weedless jigheads with natural looking cocahoes. The water was crystal clear because of the abundant grass growing in the pond. I watched as Becky timed a cast perfectly out 10 feet in front of a tailing red. She waited until it was within a couple of feet of the lure, and then carefully twitched it. The red turned slightly and stopped. She twitched it again and it was all over the lure like white on rice. A quick hook set and the fight was on! After landing and releasing the fish, we repeated this pattern for then next two hours. If you’ve never tried it, sight fishing tailing reds in a kayak is a truly unique experience.
On our way back to the Mr. Champ, we crossed paths with Wes and Chris. Before reaching the boat, we decided to give the shoreline a try. Wes was probing the bank with a full-size Super Spook. He cast the big lure all the way to the shore and started working it back. I watched as the lure slowed while Wes tried to figure out how to work the topwater around a grass bed. As soon as the lure stopped, a huge red hammered it. The fight lasted about 10 minutes, with Wes being pulled 150 yards down the shoreline before he was able to contain the fish. What a thrill!
As the storm clouds built and the lightning started to pop in the distance we knew it was time to head back to the Mr. Champ. We loaded up for the long boat ride back to Slidell. We all shared stories of the things we had experience in the Biloxi marsh. From the excitement of the fishing action to the beauty of this natural wonderland to the peaceful feeling of fishing all day without hearing or seeing another human, we could all agree that we’ll be back soon!
By John Williams