Here Is the Cure; Giant Redfish on the Fly!
January in the Gulf of Mexico signals the beginning of the giant redfish migration from the deeper gulf waters into the marshy flats just a few miles off the Louisiana and Alabama mainland. These redfish are big, averaging a whopping 20 pounds, and fish over 30 pounds are not an uncommon catch on the fly. I’ve been fishing these waters for the past 10 years and can say with confidence this area is one of the world’s best sight casting fly fishing destinations; period.
Why Winter? –
Catching a giant redfish is all about timing, weather, and opportunity. The cold waters of the Gulf in the winter are a perfect habitat for these large redfish. Most of these big fish are females, and it is thought that they move into these shallow marshy areas to spawn between October and February. Unlike many species of fish during a spawning period, redfish feed during these periods, so the fly angler has a great opportunity to sight cast the fly to these very large, actively feeding fish.
The Weather Factor –
The weather can play a role in how successful the fly angler will be when casting to redfish. The gulf of Louisiana in January can be rainy, cloudy, cold and windy. However, these weather systems can move through an area quickly, therefore producing some very clear, cool days, with light winds, which are ideal condition for catching redfish.
A Great Winter Fishery –
Sight casting, hooking and landing a large redfish on the fly is one of saltwater fly-fishing’s best fishing experiences. Not only are redfish very eager and willing to take a variety of flies and poppers, they also have a tendency to feed in ultra shallow water during the winter months, making them the perfect saltwater fish for the cooped-up fly-rodder looking to escape “cabin fever” by going sight casting to a world class game fish, without traveling half way around the globe. There is something very special about seeing, casting to and hooking a trash can-sized redfish tailing along a grassy marsh bank, or on an oyster flat, within a few hours of anywhere in the U.S.
The redfish game is simple. You need a nine foot, 8 to 10 weight rod, matched with a floating line and a fly reel that can carry 150 yards of backing. For the leader, a standard nine-foot leader with a tippet rating of 15 to 20 lb. test. Fly selection is simple; if fishing for tailing reds, a crab pattern or larger shrimp pattern will do the job. Big redfish are not picky in most cases, and if the angler puts the fly in front of the fish chances are the fish will eat the fly. Also, forget about a long cast; most redfish are caught 30 feet or less from the boat.
So to cure the “Wintertime Blues”, think “Red”, as in “Big Redfish”, and go sight casting for a world class game fish close to home.