The salty and brackish marshes of southern Louisiana produce outstanding redfish throughout most of the year, but the fall and winter months are the prime times to catch huge bull reds. While my friends in the northern part of the country are bracing for cold weather and breaking out their ice fishing gear, I head for the warmer climate of the gulf to chase redfish.
Louisiana redfishing regulations are some of the most generous in the gulf and allow a limit of five fish. All must be above 16 inches, with one allowed over 27 inches. In addition to possessing some of the finest fishing in the United States, the culture, scenery, and food of southern Louisiana are unlike anywhere else in the nation.
I typically fish 10 to 12 times a year on the Gulf Coast, both inshore and offshore. It is important to thoroughly research the area you want to fish. I always call several charter captains in the area to talk to them about the current conditions and how the fishing has been over the days prior to my planned trip. Choosing a charter has a lot of great benefits: you don’t have to bring your tackle, bait, or equipment, it’s inexpensive to buy a three-day charter fishing license, and you can be assured you’re fishing with someone who knows the area and can get you on fish. There just is not a better way to enjoy Louisiana’s infinite saltwater fishing opportunities than with a professional, licensed charter captain.
I have been using the Louisiana Charter Boat Captains Association’s website for several years, it takes all of the work out of finding a good captain and it’s easy to navigate. I just go to the site and choose the area I want to fish, click on that area I will be visiting, and select one of the captains listed on the site. They also have a really cool “Fishopedia,” which I have used numerous times on my phone while fishing offshore to help me identify some of the fish I’ve caught.
On my most recent trip, I had the pleasure of fishing with Captain Craig Matherne of Bourgeois Charters out of Lafitte, Louisiana. Captain Matherne made the trip a real pleasure, his knowledge of the area was incredible. I have also fished with Captain Theophile Bourgeois several times and this trip, like all of the others, was completely unforgettable.
I love staying in the lodge at Bourgeois Charters, they make you feel at home and the Cajun cooking is as good as that of any five-star restaurant in New Orleans. We left the dock behind the lodge at about 7 a.m. and headed southeast, fishing cork rigs up against miles of Roseau cane-lined shorelines. We were fishing no longer than 20 minutes after leaving the dock.
Redfish tend to assemble this time of year in areas off main passes where ponds and large expanses of broken marsh drain. Rising and falling tides are ideal for big redfish looking to waylay an easy meal. We were fortunate and the tide slowly began coming in as we started our day. Casting popping corks with live shrimp or with Berkley Gulp is pretty standard when fishing for redfish, flounder, or speckled trout. Popping corks make a distinct sound that calls fish to your line and we were quickly rewarded with several nice redfish that we added to the livewell.
Our last fish of the day was a bruiser of a redfish that stripped line off my reel while circling the boat several times. When we finally got him in the boat, we quickly determined we had our one fish over 27 inches. We fished for about four and a half hours and in that short period caught our limit of redfish along with several nice catfish.
I love fishing in Lafitte; it’s an easy 45-minute drive from New Orleans and I often fish there when traveling with friends or family. They can spend the day enjoying the food and culture of the city while I slip away with my friends or sons to fish and enjoy some time in the marsh.
I have fished with several charter captains throughout south Louisiana that I have contacted through the Louisiana Charter Boat Captains Association. The LCBA has become my first and best resource when I am looking for a fishing trip to Venice, Buras, Grand Isle, or any of the great destinations in southern Louisiana. It just doesn’t get any easier than getting to where you want to fish, stepping into a boat, and letting the captain take care of the rest.
Image courtesy of Andy McDaniels