Catching Redfish Louisiana Style
Every year, we make our way to Louisiana to fish for redfish. But, not just anywhere. We like to do our filming in what I consider the real Louisiana not the commercialized areas that everybody goes to fish. We love the Barataria area for its history and culture.
Barataria Bay Louisiana was used in the early 19th century as a base for pirates and smugglers led by the pirate Jean Lafitte. The Bay is a notable source of shrimp, as well as, muskrat fur, natural gas and petroleum. It is located just outside New Orleans, close to the airport and just about a 10-hour drive from Tampa, Florida. Their daily bag limit is five redfish per day and 25 speckled trout per day. This is why Louisiana is called a sportsman paradise.
Our lodge is in Barataria on an island. Griffin Fishing Charters and Lodge is where we call home for three days each year. Colby Creppel, general manager and part owner, oversees the operation and is also a guide. Everything is supplied, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, guides, tackle and lodging. They have some of the best captains in the area and call this place home. All you need to bring is a cooler to take your fish home and, yes, purchase a fishing license for under $20. Before crossing the bridge into Barataria, you pass the small town of Jean Lafitte, named after the pirate himself. It’s a nice place to walk with friendly people, some small shops and a quaint museum with some of the local history.
Here is where our adventure starts. On our first trip, I was surprised to see nothing but dead shrimp on board. Thinking the area is loaded with live shrimp, why are we using dead? Our guide said “you don’t need any when dead shrimp works great and there’s no hassle trying to keep them alive”. The shrimp are kept in a cooler sitting on top of ice. We used the same left-over shrimp for three days in a row with no problem.
Our Captain of choice each year is Capt. Gage Vincent running a 2400 Pathfinder boat rigged for bayou fishing. Our daily run to Lake Salvador, Rigolets, Bayou DuPont, Three Bayou Bay, Little Lake and Myrtle Grove takes anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes and, I can tell you from experience, its nonstop fishing for six hours. Our average day for the two of us is anywhere from 30 to 50 redfish per trip with some trout, sheepshead and puppy drum thrown in for fun.
There are three methods to catch these redfish. First, is using dead baits and your favorite cork. The guides and locals use the 4-Horsemen popping cork, a short leader about 30 inches long with a 3/0 circle hook and one nice big dead shrimp. We simply cast along the grassy shoreline popping the cork and making plenty of noise with it to get the attention of the redfish. There is nothing more exciting than watching the cork disappear and your drag singing its tune.
The second method is using artificial baits. The part I enjoy most is getting a big, beautiful redfish to eat something that is not natural to them. It’s not easy and takes patience, but the reward is knowing you did it your way. We use the Saltwater Assassin Shrimp on a 1/8-ounce jig head. The color of the jig head doesn’t matter as it is mostly to add some weight to the artificial bait.
The third method is using the same method as with a dead shrimp, but replace the dead shrimp with a Saltwater Assassin Shrimp under a popping cork.
I tried the same methods here in the Tampa Bay area using the popping cork and artificials with success but, to my surprise, the trout went wild on the flats. It also increased my flounder catch, or maybe it was luck.
Here in Tampa Bay, I used a combo rigged with a 4-Horsemen cork and a 30-pound fluorocarbon leader. The leader length should about six inches shorter than the depth of water. The idea is to drift an area popping the cork once, wait a few seconds and do it again. Once you get a strike, drop your Power Poles and work all around the boat. Start another drift when the bite quits.
1. 4-Horsemen Float.
2. Combo rig using artificial shrimp.
3. Saltwater Assassin Shrimp Cocktail in light beer color.
4. 761M-FG 7 ½ foot medium action rod like the Okuma SRT Inshore Elite rod.
5. Helios 3000 Okuma reel.
6. Fins 15-pound Windtamer braided line.