Sight Fishing – Mach 10 with the Red Reaper

dStevie Nick didn’t have to blindfold us. The 180s and G forces pretty much assured that Al “Cbreeze” Calabrese and I would never find our way back to the ponds where we would be sight-fishing.

Just to the southeast of New Orleans proper, Delacroix’s marshes are a magnificent labyrinth of cuts, canals, bayous, ponds, small lakes and bays that would confound anybody that hadn’t devoted a good part of their life getting lost in and finding their way out of them. Turns out Stevie navigates the back-ways of this region as well as any Delacroix native and without having grown up fishing the bayous here.

From the moment we launched from Serigne’s Marina, it felt like we were in tight contention in a final day of a tournament with a $100,000 prize up for grabs. We were venturing into super-skinny waters and timing the tides back there while factoring in the wind was tricky and a real gamble.

There were a few times when Al and I were white-knuckling it, while Stevie was winging it at high speeds and snaking through very tight channels. This is when I noticed him using his Lowrance without hesitating or breaking speed, just making instantaneous changes to course. Later, safely back at the dock, he disclosed that he uses the E-Card by Standard Mapping ( The E-Card provides him a photo-map overlay of industry-standard laminated maps that many fishermen use religiously. According to this tournament angler, the E-Card’s technology blows away competition with its high-definition and accuracy. So Stevie didn’t have a photographic memory after all.


Sight fishing reds in the marsh, at least in this marsh, is definitely the pinnacle of light-tackle saltwater fishing in Louisiana. The water was without exaggeration as clear as any water I’ve seen, much less fished in. Delacroix is at the back door of New Orleans, which some say is the northernmost city of the Caribbean. These waters fit that scenario perfectly. South Louisiana never ceases to amaze. It has some of the clearest and cleanest water amidst the murkiest, muddiest water in the country.

But good luck seeing ’em! Some of sight-fishing is learnable. The rest of it is talent. If you don’t have it, you could have $5,000 sunglasses and not see many fish. But they are there.

By afternoon, I was spotting some before Eagle Eyes or Cbreeze did. But when that happened, it was usually because those two were sizing up some fish 30 to 40-plus yards away, and I might be seeing one sneaking by within 10 yards.


In terms of his arsenal, besides the E-Card and the raised platform, Stevie had a remote control for the trolling motor and was winding us though the ponds and grass beds in 1 to 2 feet of water, simultaneously tracking multiple fish in multiple locations and placing his bait in front of the fish he wanted while telling Al where to cast, which of the fish to go for and why and telling me to keep trying.
On this trip, among the sight fishing lessons, I learned a lot from Stevie about boat handling. What you do is, when you start feeling bottom and it’s just getting shallower, you turn on some Bob Marley, back out about 30 to 40 yards and then punch it. You get the boat up to mud-plane, and you might make that flat. Worked for us several times.

By end of the day, I had several nicknames I could kid Stevie with. “Speed Racer meets Dukes of Hazard”: If anybody had been tailing this tournament champion, they would have crashed and burned many times, either launching themselves into the marsh at the hairpin turns, ripping off lower units on sub-surface debris or just getting plain old stuck. His Blazer Bay turned into an airboat with afterburners when called for. No smoke screens or oil slicks needed here.

“Rain Man”: Bears some explanation. First of all, Stevie simply is a savant of sorts when it comes to sight fishing. Secondly, he shared everything he saw or knew throughout the whole day from start to finish and hardly anything was repeated. I know he wasn’t counting cards, but something was going on that I couldn’t explain.

“Red Reaper”: By the end of day, with an effortless stealth and great economy of action, Stevie had pretty much hand-picked the tournament-class redfish of the area, catching what he wanted, passing up what he didn’t. I think the redfish knew when his gaze fell upon them.


I left Delacroix feeling I’d just had another “once-in-a-lifetime trip.” Every fishing trip is different and some stand out for one reason or another. The combination of serious and fun was a blast. I left with the memory of hearing Bob Marley as G forces took hold.

Bruno Prager is co-publisher of the New Orleans edition of Coastal Angler Magazine. He can be reached at

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