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A group of my fishing friends heads down to Southeast Louisiana every year for a 4 day party/fishing fest. Every year I say I am going to make it, but just never seem to work it into my work schedule. This year, I decided to take the bull by the horns and plan a trip that aligns with a week I have off in February. The water is still a little cold in February, but fishing is fishing and I was happy to have any trip down to the marshes to chase red fish. My goals were to have fun, catch a few red fish and, hopefully, land one on fly rod. With three days to fish, decent weather conditions, and plenty of beer there was very little that could hamper the experience of this trip.

We launched the morning of Day 1 under orange skies and paddled out into a desolate marsh. This first day I mostly planned to watch and learn from my two companions who frequent these marshes. Both of my friends got into fish fairly quickly and each had a limit midway through day 1, while I still had yet to land my first fish. After a very frustrating experience laying out perfect casts with my fly rod to short striking, stubborn fish I switched to a jig head shrimp lure and paddled into an opening in the bayou. I quickly ran up on a beautiful, blue tailed red fish that spooked when I lowered my paddle. Fortunately, I was able to lob the shrimp lure ahead of him and he gobbled it up. My first Louisiana red fish was in the cooler and a cold one was promptly cracked. I added two more fish to my cooler that day, but was unable to fill or my limit or land one on the fly rod.

Day 2 was much windier and the sight fishing was much more challenging, but I was beginning to learn my way around the mangroves and marshes. I explored farther into the marshes exploring new canals and ponds. After landing several on a home made spinner bait, I broke out my fly rod; determined to land one on the fly. I missed a few shots at tailing fish as a brutal wind made sight fishing very difficult. I anchored down with my micro Power-Pole at an intersection of channels within the marsh and waited. I watched the faint wakes and swirls multiple fish come and go, but could not get a clear shot at a feeding fish. Finally, the faint, bronze outline of a fish appeared on the edge of an oyster bed. I stripped some line into the floor of my Coosa HD and dropped the fly near what I hopped was the head of the fish. Strip, strip, bam! My first red on the fly crashed a crab pattern and put up an amazing fight. I was elated to finally check that off my bucket list!

The last day of fishing dawned with a blustering wind. I missed my first two bites at daybreak and also had a beautiful cruising red hit my bait three times without hooking up. The frustration was building and boiled over when I lost my best red fish on the fly when he wrapped around my micro anchor and got away. I was crushed and had zero fish in the cooler! I decided to push back into the marsh I explored yesterday and hope to find some cruising fish. As I rounded a channel bend I spotted an enormous red fish, body half out of the water, crawling along a grass line, thrashing around looking for prey. I made a long cast in the wind and landed just a little too close to the fish spooking it. The disappointment didn’t have time to set in as the fish popped up farther down the grass line resuming it’s feeding frenzy. I quickly paddled around the fish as fast as I could and got in front of it’s path. Firing a careful cast, the lure landed about 5 feet in front of it and she pounced on it. The fish surged and started ripping drag, so I dropped the micro anchor and held on. After several surging runs, I was able to snap the Boga grip around it’s lip and hoisted it aboard. Taping out at 30 inches, this was my largest red fish ever and barely fit in my fish bag. I cracked open a cold lager and thanked the marsh gods for allowing me to salvage my final day!