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In my early days of kayak fishing there was always one fish that kept coming up, one fish that other anglers would talk about. I decided it was time to chase this finned celebrity my friend Vince and I headed to Florida in hopes to check this one off our bucket list. From the first time I tangled with a redfish, they have become one of my favorite species to target. Reds are known to be stout fighters. As a freshwater angler, I can best describe them as having the tenacity of a smallmouth with the brute force of a carp.

Until recently, my main fishing area for reds have been down in Florida. These have been some great waters and have produced nice slot reds, a few bulls, great food for the table, and even a second place in my first ever redfish tournament. In addition to the fish, I have made some good friends along the way and experienced the excitement of other anglers when they fight their first red.

This past Veterans Day weekend, a few of us made our first trip down to Pointe Aux Chene and the marshes of Louisiana. This area is well regarded for the size and number of redfish you can catch. Also the creel and possession limits in Louisiana are higher than Florida making it a better option for those of us who wanted to harvest some fish for the table. Needless to say, we were all excited and talked about the trip for months in advance.

I arrived at PAC Kayak Rental a little after midnight on Thursday. Jason, Shawn, and Chris had been there for some time and established camp. Once I had my area set up we hit the dock for some fishing under the lights. The shrimp were thick and small spotted trout were busting everywhere. We stayed on the dock till about two thirty and caught who knows how many under slot trout. The trip was starting off good.

A cold front was forecasted to move through mid-day on Friday so Chris, Jason, Shawn, and myself got an early start on the water while Sam and Lane were still on their way down. We fished different areas keeping a keen eye on the weather. I fished along the back sides of grass islands and around current seams. Around noon the storm started making it’s presence known with growing thunder in the distance. As I fished my way back into launch, I managed to pick up a few rat reds.

For those not familiar with redfish, there are different categories related to size. Rats are fish that are under the legal slot limit. Slots are those fish that fall between the minimum and maximum length allowed to keep. In Louisiana for example, the redfish slot limit is 16 to 27 inches*. Bulls are those fish that exceed the slot limit…the trophies.

As we all arrived back to the dock, the bottom fell out. The front packed driving rain, strong winds with gusts in the thirty mile an hour range. Following the front, the temperature fell and the winds were steady out of the north in the fifteen to twenty mile an hour range. This winds caused a few problems for us. It made it very difficult to paddle a kayak and was pushing the water out of the marsh creating hazardous currents.

Saturday had us under small craft advisory all day. We game planned for a little while discussing some options, but the winds, low water, and strong current made fishing virtually impossible. We tried fishing along a sea wall and a causeway with no luck. So we did the next best thing, some campsite cooking. On the menu for the day was scrambled eggs and sausage, grilled steaks, brats, and redfish on the half-shell. We may not be able to fish, but we can always eat.

Saturday night, the current shifted and water started flowing back into the bayous. We walked down and fished from the dock again. This time instead of the small trout, the rat reds were on fire. After a few hours, we left the fish biting and would return a few hours later to try for some slots. On the second trip, the rats picked up where we left off. I eventually was able to land two slot reds and hooked up with a bull that snapped my fishing rod when it turned and ran under the dock while being netted. At this point it was after midnight so I decided to call it a evening and get ready for a long day of fishing in the morning.

Sunday saw the water level back up around normal and the wind had calmed down a bit. We headed to a pipeline looking for a little shelter from the remaining wind and deeper water. After a few hours we happened on a one hundred yard stretch that was holding a lot of fish. Anchoring in the shallow water and casting across the channel produced reds, trout, sheepshead, black drum, and flounder. This area produced Shawn’s first slot red, Jason landed a nice bull, and I got my first inshore slam. Unfortunately as it always happens, it was time to point the boats toward the launch and head home.

These kinds of trips are the thing I enjoy most about the kayak fishing community. Spending time with friends, meeting new people and fishing new areas is always fun. Even though the weather didn’t cooperate, the trip was a success. I was able to tangle with Louisiana reds and bring home some fish for the family table, which were my goals in the beginning. The only thing I didn’t do was catch a bull red. That is okay though, we will be heading back in April.

Tight lines,
Robert Brown

*Always check the state regulations as they can change from year to year.