Dec 26, 2015

Monster Redfish In Louisiana

Travis putting the brakes on a Bull Red

My dad sets the hook on a monster redfish, over thirty pounds. His Winston Boron III Plus tied in a knot as his Nautilus CCFX2 fly reel screams!

It all started three months prior while fishing tarpon in Florida. My guide Greg Dini talked about guiding big reds in Louisiana. "I really want to do that sometime" I told him. 

"When is the best time" I asked Greg. 
He said "from October to January, but the first of October to mid November is prime".
"when do you have any openings" I asked.
"January sometime" he responded.
"I will have to look at my calendar" I said.

A few nights later over dinner with the guys, Greg got a text from his wife. "My wife just text me that a guy canceled a redfish trip October 11th to 14th". A few of the guys said they might want those days but would have to wait until they got home to make sure. Knowing the dates would be gone by if any of us hesitated I grabbed them. I would make room on the calendar later, you just can not pass up prime dates like that with a guide like Greg.

It was a long three months waiting for these dates to finally come. Here we are in Louisiana home of the monster redfish. Just landed in New Orleans, heading to pickup the rental. After a hour delay at the rental car company we were on the road to Venice Louisiana. Venice is on the southern tip of Louisiana. Know for it's world class sport fishing. It is also the first spot that the giant bull redfish stop on their migration into the Louisiana marsh for winter.

After a 75 mile drive we were at our destination, Venice Louisiana. It was now dark so we could see much. We made our way to our hotel, put our gear together for the next day and hit the sack. We were supposed to meet Greg at the marina at 8:15 AM.
Venice, Louisiana
We got up early and headed to the marina. Now that it was light we could see the town, it was small and spread out. Not much there so plan ahead. We arrived at the marina, found the restaurant that Greg suggested. We ordered our breakfast and a couple of sandwiches for lunch.

At 8:15 we met Greg at the dock after breakfast we walked down to the dock and met up with Greg. Greg grabbed our rods and quickly rigged them, then we were off. His flats boat was full throttle, we were flying through the canals and marsh near the mouth of the Mississippi River. After 15 minutes of running Greg throttled down the skiff, killed the motor and hopped on the poling platform. He told me “Grab your Winston with the big streamer I tied on”.

I jumped to the bow and got ready. I no longer got my line stripped off and Greg shouted “One o’clock, 50 feet, coming at you”. “Wait, let him get closer, Ok cast now”.

Inhaled the Fly
I made my cast right on the red fish's head, as soon as I started stripping the fly he inhaled the fly. Greg said “ Set the hook, set it hard”. I set the hook and the red turned away and started pulling hard. I could see that this was not one of the monster reds I had came here for, but it still surprised me how hard it was pulling. It felt like a chinook salmon, a chinook on a flat. After a few minutes I pulled the fish over to where Greg could grab the leader. My dad and Greg snapped a few quick pictures and the red went back in the water. “How big was that one” I asked. “Small about 12 lbs” he replied.

Greg said “Nice job, now let's go find a bigger one”. He did not pole the boat more than 100 feet and there was another red, bigger, much bigger. Greg asked “ Do you see him coming at you 10 o’clock?”

“Yes I do” I replied. “Ok cast now” Greg said. My first cast was a few feet right, I picked up and set the fly a few feet in front of the red. Just like the first he quickly inhaled the fly, I set the hook. The red took off, stripping my line off the reel quickly. My Winston BIII Plus 9’ 9 weight fly rod was absolutely tied in a knot. Once the fish stopped I applied about as much pressure as I thought the rod could handle. These reds are strong! Once I had the fish wore out, Greg tailed the fish. He handed the red to me, it was much heavier. “How big is it” I asked. “About 20 lbs.” Greg responded.
This was the size fish I came here for, huge shoulders, giant head and big enough mouth to swallow any 18 inch trout whole!

I got back up to the front as two big jacks shot in front of the boat. I asked Greg “were those jacks”. “Yes, about 20 to 25 lbs” he replied. We then explained to dad about how hard jacks fight, I don’t think he really realized how serious we were.

Greg got a call from a fellow guide friend, he reported that he was in one of the big flats covered with big reds crushing pogies (a favorite bait fish of reds). Greg said “ we have to get over there, the surface fishing should be excellent!” He fired up the 115 horse motor and off we went. After about five minutes we came to the flat. As far as you could see there were pogies jumping on the surface. Every once in awhile the surface would explode as a red would crush the pogies on the surface.

Greg pulled out a spin rod with a giant surface plug about 8 inches long. The plug did not have a hook on it. Greg explained he would use the plug to locate a redfish since the water was much murkier on this flat. It was now dad’s turn at the bowe. Greg had him grab the 9’ 10 weight G. Loomis GLX Crosscurrent that we had brought. He had previously rigged it with a huge popper, about 6 inches total length. Greg started casting the huge plug, jerking it violently across the surface. A big redfish exploded on the surface inhaling the plug. Greg jerked the plug away from the red, then told dad “cast to the red, right in the boil it left”

Dad made a cast, started popping the the popper across the surface. A massive wake appeared behind the popper as a redfish speed up behind the popper, then springing forward eating the popper. Dad jerked, the fly pulled right out of the reds mouth. Greg said “don’t trout set, you want to keep the rod tip in the water and strip to set the hook.” This is something every trout angler will struggle with. Nothing a trout angler does set the hook on trout, steelhead or salmon is right for setting the hooking in saltwater on a flats fish. It is easier to say than do, but you want to keep the tip in the water and just make a long hard strip with a fish eats a fly in salt. I can explain all the reasons why it works better, but it does.

A few minutes later dad got a chance to redeem himself as a red once again crushed Greg’s hookless plug. Dad cast to the boil, a big red inhales his popper. Dad tightens his line on the fish. The red instantly started burning off line taking about 50 yards of backing. Greg shouts “ this is a big one!” Dad battled this red for probably close to 10 minutes before Greg could get his hands on it. Once landed I could see this fish was considerably bigger. “Greg how big is this one” I asked. he replies “about 31 to 32 lbs.”

Albert wrestling a big red on the fly
Dad had a few more shots, then it was my turn back at the bow. Dad picked up a G. Loomis Escape 3 piece travel spin rod that I had brought. He cast that rigged with a big plug from the back of the boat while I cast the fly rod with popper from the front. For a few hours we hooked, landed and lost numerous big reds in the 20 lb to 30 lb. range. We had many doubles and even a few triples after I convinced Greg to cast a couple of times once dad and I were doubled up. It was a epic day, dad kept saying this was the best fishing trip he had been on. I had to remind him it was only the first day and we had 3 left.

That day came to an end as we returned to the dock at Venice Marina. Greg said “same time and place tomorrow morning”. Dad and I went up to the restaurant overlooking the marina. We had some great food and a few beers as we recalled our great day of fishing. While we were there multiple offshore boats came to the dock, unloading their day's catch of mahi mahi, swordfish, yellowfin and blackfin tuna. It was time to go back to the hotel and get ready for the next day.


The next morning we piled in Greg’s skiff and away we went. This time we headed Southeast to the other side of the Mississippi. After about a 30 minute run Greg powered down the boat as we slid into a shallow flat. The wind from the day before had turned the bottom, causing this flat to be a little more colored than the flats yesterday. Greg had me get on the bow with the Winston rigged with the streamer. Right away Greg spotted a red floating near the surface. “Travis do you see it about 70 feet, 12 o’clock coming at you”. Once the red was at about 40 feet I made my cast, it was perfect, the red ate the fly and I trout set. I blew it and missed the fish.
“What did you do! You trout set, don’t trout set”. Greg said in disappointment. That was the biggest fish we had seen and the trout angler in me blew it. That morning was a lot of that for me, I had many shots landing a few and missing most due to trout setting. It is easy to tell myself not to trout set, but sometimes it is just natural reaction.

Later that morning I huge read was cruising my way. Greg told me “ it is at 30 feet cast”. I made the cast and trout set once again. The fly pulled out of the reds mouth, the red circled looking for the fly, I cast again. She ate it once again, I trout set once again. I made another cast, trout set again missing the fish. “Travis what are you doing” Greg asked. The red was at 50 feet going away. I bombed a quick last chance cast, she ate it, I kept the rod tip in the water and strip set. She was on!

“That is a big red” Greg yelled!

I fought the fish then slid her in towards the boat so Greg could tail her. Greg lifted the pig out of the water. “look at her” he said as he handed the monster to me. It was all I could do to hold here for all the photos. These big reds are so heavy in the shoulders and head. Greg released the big red as she pushed away from the boat. I asked Greg “how big was she?”
“37 lbs or 38 lbs” he replied. That was a big red!

The rest of this second day was excellent. The 3rd day started off a little slow. The wind was coming from a different direction than the weather report said it should. This made fishing a little more difficult than normal. After a few hours Greg found some fish.
These Reds were happy and cruising the surface. Greg said “Grab the popper rod”.
So I quickly grabbed the popper rod, jumped to the bow. Greg stepped in behind me with his camera ready to shoot the popper eat. Here comes a nice big red, I lead the fish a few feet, start chuggint the big popper across the surface. The big red turns, follows the fly then explodes on it! The fight was on.

“Greg did you get that eat on film” I asked. It was amazing. “Yes I did” he replied.

Nautilus CCF-x2
This great popper fishing continued for about another hour, big red after big red. Then the monster came cruising at us! It was a huge red, high thirties or possibly forty plus. I made my cast, she turned like the rest followed and inhaled the popper. I set the hook, the monster raced towards deep water. As the line cleared the deck it flew up wrapping around my hand. As I was able to clear the line from my hand the loop tangled around my reel handle. It was to late, the red pulled the line tight about ripping the handle off. The 40 lb. shock leader snapped like it was 6x tippet. The power of that fish was pure amazing!

The fourth and last day came fast, fishing was once again amazing. Greg put us on a few huge schools of migrating reds, one school was near a thousand fish. We doubled up several times.

Many Doubles
As that day came to an end it was hard to believe this trip was all ready over. Dad and I had a blast, boated piles of reds, got to see some new country, marked another trip off the bucket list. But it won’t stop there I re-booked for next year, same dates, same place. Sorry Dad, Lyndsey (my wife) said that I have to take here next time. I also booked a Tarpon trip in Florida with Greg for the upcoming spring!

Greg is one of those guides that there is not enough of.  He not only is a great angler, but a great teacher.  His knowledge of the fishery and how to approach it is as good as it gets. He is also a great photographer as you can see in the many great photos. You can contact Greg Dini at his website or call 504-909-0941

Travis Duddles
Owner and CEO | Gorge Fly Shop

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

No comments :

Post a Comment

  © 'and' Mike Prine 2009-2014

Back to TOP