Winter Redfish, Challenge and Reward

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Photo by Al Keller

Photo by Al Keller

By Louis Cahill

The big winter redfish of Louisiana make anglers hearts race, but there are some serious challenges.

Hooking a thirty pound redfish on a fly is a hoot! The big bulls you find in the marsh around New Orleans this time of year are bullies. As tough a fighters as you’ll find anywhere and simply beautiful. I try to make the pilgrimage every year for the shot at great fish but it’s far from a given.

The fish themselves are aggressive. If you can put a fly close enough for them to see it, the take is usually vicious. The challenges don’t lie with the fish, but with the conditions. The winter weather is unpredictable to say the least. When I ask my friend and guide Jessie Register what the odds of having a clear day are he replied, “no better than 50/50.”

Without light, finding these fish in the dark water of the marsh is a daunting task. If the wind is disturbing the surface of the water, forget it. You may still find a fish tailing in shallow water but you’ll work for it. Of course, targeting the smaller fish who are more predictable is always a good option but light is a huge plus when you’re hunting the big boys.

It’s not uncommon to have days where fishing isn’t even an option. I’ve been pushed off the water by lightning and horizontal rain on several occasions. I’ve had days what rivaled winter steelheading for pure suffering cold. I fished with a buddy last year and we had terrible weather. We fished two days and bailed on the third. We only saw six fish. We caught all six and only one was under thirty pounds. I’ll take that.

When you do have good weather, if you can cast the huge flies and put them on a fish’s nose, hold onto your hat. It’s going to be fun. If you plan a winter redfish trip, just remember, it’s all about showing up and working for your fish. Don’t give up if you have bad weather. That big bull is out there for you.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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3 thoughts on “Winter Redfish, Challenge and Reward

  1. Perfect timing. Heading south tomorrow to run with the bulls. Hoping for at least one of those clear days but my track record for favorable conditions is abysmal. We’ll take what we can get.

  2. Just fished for Louisiana Reds about a month ago. The fish definitely want to eat but the weather is the deciding factor. We had rain, fog and sun in 3 days. The hardest part about dealing with the weather might be convincing your guides to take you out. We were able to fish all 3 days but there were other anglers staying at the lodge who were bailed on because their guide didn’t want to go out.

  3. I have recently discovered the Biloxi Marsh and was fortunate to fish it twice this past year: once in mid-March and once in mid-December. March came into ‘triangle’ from Pass Christian and December went southeast via violet. Both were awesome. Weather makes this a variable place and can get hit or miss on water clarity which is a must. Last trip got the slam of Redfish, Blackdrum and Sheepshead all in one day.

    This is a must if you want to hunt big Reds. My latest last year was 30 Lbs.

    Ping me if you need help on guides.

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