Fly Fishing the Louisiana Bayou
Battle in the Bayou
Getting to the Marsh
The bright red sun slowly dipped below the marsh illuminating the few clouds that still hung in the sky. Sticky Louisiana air and warm breeze salted my lips preparing me for six days of poling around the marsh in search of one of my favorite fish to target using a fly rod, red drum (more commonly referred to as redfish).
Four hours earlier I impatiently paced around the Denver airport. I had boarded the plane but to my dismay power outages in the New Orleans airport delayed my flight by two and a half hours. This was the result of tropical storms raging through the bayou only the night before. I knew this would affect the fishing but to what extent was unknown.
It was refreshing to finally leave the overcrowded New Orleans airport with both my carry on and checked bag. Driving to my fishing home base, it became apparent that the water was high, really high. This was by far the most water I have seen and from the sounds of it, the highest marsh levels locals had seen in years. Worrisome. A quick peek at the forecast provided me with some hope. Low wind and sun, the best possible conditions for the saltwater fly fisher.
After staring in awe as the sunset from the RV Park, I was happy to receive the invite to the nightly fish fry put on by the Louisiana locals. Most of the native LA folk did not understand fly fishing and all of them definitely did not understand the concept of catch and release. Nonetheless, fresh fried redfish and boiled shrimp was welcoming after a long day of traveling and avoiding airport “nutrition”.
Despite the high, chocolate milk colored waters that filled the marsh past the brim, the first day of fishing was a success. Several fish were landed and the unique techniques of poling returned to me with little struggle. I was happy to be back in my second favorite state reunited with close friends and a redfish on every point in the swampland.
Day two presented common complications associated with exploring unknown areas off the fingers of land in LA. Examples include but are not limited to: getting stuck in shallow areas, difficulties finding fish, unpredictable weather, and hitting an unseen object with the motor. Despite said difficulties, I was able to land one of the nicer fish I caught on this trip. Day three provided our fishing crew with rain, clouds, wind, rain, and more clouds and rain. Not ideal for sight fishing saltwater flats. Luckily these obstacles were overcome and again many redfish were pinned including the biggest I brought to the boat. Days four and five also provided issues such as dangerous thunderstorms and 35 mph sustained winds. Pitchers, pizza, and strikes at the local bowling alley helped pass the time.
My sixth and final day of fishing proved to be one of the better days of landing fish. Exploration was a big part of day six both in the sense of new waters and different fly styles. This was my first time fishing and getting eats on a gurgler (top water salt fly). Mud was another big part of day six. It’s crazy how much 35 mph winds shake up a foot of water.
Upon returning to the marina my final day of fishing was concluded with a soft-shell crab Po Boy and significant amounts of drinking. My foggy trip to the airport at 1pm made for an interesting day of travel. Feelings of sadness overwhelmed me as I got onto the crowded plane at MSY. I knew it would be a year until I chase reds around again. At the same time, I could not wait to sleep in my own bed in Montana without waking up sweating due to 100% humidity. Clearing snow off of my truck was the perfect welcome home before driving to work at our Bozeman fly shop.
Redfish are possibly my favorite target on the fly because they are unbelievably receptive to eating flies and are far from shy about doing so. Picture a black lab eating a large chunk of pork belly after going two days without food. Also, the way reds crush bait, tail, crawl and glow in the mud are just cool to witness.
Huge thanks to Ben Cooley (Muckin’ Marauder Fly Fishing), Dorn Brown, and Steven Winkels (All Water Anglers) for providing boats and putting up with my shitty casting/poling.
Bigger thanks to Eddy and Will for buying 14 six-packs of Holy Roller IPA.
Biggest thanks to Chad and Steve (Louisiana born and raised) for nightly cookouts and endless Cajun entertainment
Rods Used: Orvis Helios 3D 908-4 and 909-4
Reels: Orvis Mirage LT IV and Mirage IV
Fly Lines: Orvis Pro Saltwater
Flies: Home ties (Fins has some great redfish flies)