While watching the weather forecast this week, it became apparent that my chances to get back and sight fish some more in Leeville were probably going to end as of Sat/Sun when the wind picked way up, so I decided I'd head back Friday, once again fishing with Josh Reppel (Wild Louisiana Tours). This would be my last trip of the year, so I wanted to make the most of it by fishing a different area from the last time, in order to compare two spots on days that have similar tide and weather patterns. Last time out, we launched and headed East, so we switched up and went West this time. Once again it was unseasonably warm, and I could tell that the meteorologist might have been a little optimistic with the wind forecast. One of the major differences that I am starting to notice about Leeville is that the tide runs much harder than many of the areas I have fished in St. Bernard parish. It was a rising tide again, and it was pushing in at a good clip. After fishing a few spots with limited success, we saw some birds diving around one of the gas wells, and headed that way. Unfortunately, I made a maneuvering error in the brisk current, thinking I was going to be able to anchor with my paddle (which I use as a cajun anchor), but I ended up drifting right into where the birds were working before making a correction. The birds took off, and I think some of the school of trout did as well. Even with a 3/8oz jighead, it was hard to get my paddletail to the bottom due to the current. I got a couple of hits and one healthy trout on a topwater, but the wind was high enough that working it in the chop was tough. We caught a handful there, and had a few missed bites, but the current and boat traffic was not making either of us real happy, so we moved on into the marsh. On the way into the broken marsh, I somehow managed to hook up on 36-38" red while trolling for trout. It was on the 6'6" rod with barely any fighting butt, so it took a few minutes to bring it in. I was relieved that the fish was in good shape and not exhausted when I did get it onboard, and I got it right back in the water after a couple of photos.
The first part of the day sight fishing in the marsh presented conditions much like it had been on Monday - good water clarity, and wind that was manageable if a little annoying. The first fish I caught was tailing, and would prove to be the only one I saw doing that the whole day. Once again, they were mostly slowly swimming a few inches below the water surface, feeding opportunistically, but not tailing or crashing much. They were perhaps a little bit more skittish, and I got a few refusals. The wind kept on ratcheting up and up, and a big part of the day became maneuvering as efficiently as possible while standing up. The fish were still visible, but it was definitely getting harder. All in all, I ended up landing 4 while sight fishing, plus the bull red that volunteered itself while trolling. Eventually the wind became so frustrating and the fish so hard to see that we decided to head back out of one of the main bayous, headed in the direction of the launch with the intention of looking for trout spots. On popping out of the marsh, we were blasted with a combination of the incoming tide and wind, making paddling pretty miserable. We fished a few likely cuts that had deeper holes and shells, but honestly the wind was so irritating that the patience to really fish thoroughly was pretty much exhausted. Instead of battling the wind all the way back down the bayou, we opted to cut back through the marsh. We had observed a steady decline in numbers of fish we were seeing, and wanted to get a feel for whether it was location or conditions that was causing it. Back where we had started with good success, the wind had whipped up the mud and drastically reduced the water clarity in the space of just a few hours. That was very enlightening to see up close, and (to me) validated my decision to get out for another trip before the predicted high winds over the weekend.
All in all, it made for a successful trip that let me work on a few things I noticed myself doing poorly while sight fishing last time, and check out a different area while conditions remained almost the same. A lot of times I feel like it isn't really that useful to keep trying new spots with wildly different conditions, which is one reason I stuck to mostly fishing St. Bernard this year, hoping to get to know it in different seasons and conditions. I talked to a local who was of the opinion that the trout are too spread out because of the warmer water, and I can't really argue too much with that point. There were quite a lot of motor boats out, and that area is definitely a place to keep your eyes and ears peeled and take a little extra care. I did come extremely close to falling out of my kayak when the wind blew me back into a bank while I was standing. I had forgotten to check behind me, and the kayak stopped suddenly when it hit the bank, sending me down into the chair and almost over the side. The only thing that stopped me was jamming my paddle down into the mud and pushing for dear life. Josh was visibly doing his best to will the kayak over, after I gave him such a hard time for falling in on the last trip. All fish went back in the water this time, and if I remember right I caught 5 reds and 2 trout, and Josh ended up with 3 reds and around 6 trout. Everything we caught was on a jighead and paddletail, with the exception of the one trout I caught on a topwater. Avacado was working for both of us with the reds, and I caught one trout on a chartreuse/silver plastic.