The past couple of trips to St. Bernard have been tough fishing, in contrast to previous weeks. The water around Reggio is (for area standards) really dirty at the moment, and the fish just haven't been around in the numbers that they sometimes are. The redfish have also been very picky about lures and presentation, something that I am curious about and hoping to better understand. I've had outright rejections on many of my standard and usually successful lures. I have noticed a lot of glass minnows, and now shrimp coming in, so it might just be that they don't feel the need to strike anything that doesn't look and smell exactly, perfectly legit. I sure do miss the desperate, angry redfish!
The first trip was June 10th, one of the Louisiana summer days that includes numerous, fast moving thunderstorms, and I spent a good amount of the trip looking over my shoulder trying to figure out which direction the mean-looking clouds were headed. At two different points, I paddled all the way back to the launch, let the storm pass, and headed back out. In retrospect, I would have been better served accepting defeat, but I'm hard headed and stubborn, and I ground out a long day. I've been working on putting together more photo and video of sight fishing, and I really wanted to accomplish some of that on this trip. Unfortunately, the weather, water and fish just weren't having any of it. The water was very high, and quite dirty. The last time I fished the area, I could see the bottom in a lot of areas, and the fish were beautifully easy to spot against the dark bottom. This trip was not going to work out that way. I did see a few, and eventually convinced one to eat, but it was by no means an ideal sight fishing day. Blind casting landed me another nice eating size red, and I had quite a few fish come off the hook. I've got to do better at setting the hook, especially with the weedless lures that require some extra force to drive the hook past any plastic or weed guard.
One thing I always try to remain conscious of is that there is absolutely always beauty and life in the marsh, regardless of whether the fish are cooperating with your fishing goals, and it makes no sense to get irritated and not enjoy your day in nature. I have been getting better at actually following through with that philosophy, having had enough great days as well as poor days fishing. As long as I feel like I am doing my best to figure the pattern out and fish well, I can be satisfied. On this trip, I was taking quite a few breaks to just sit and watch nature happen around me. The storms were moving in the distance, and you could see a bit of lightning in them, as well as massive columns of rain. Pretty cool to see. I also got great views of a 5-6' gar (which I just had to poke with my paddle, I think it was sleeping), and a small 2-3' alligator that was swimming in the water. At the end of the day, I brought a couple of nice fish home for dinner, even if I wasn't able to get the footage I wanted. I also got home in time to take my brand new drone up for a flight, and get a nice aerial shot of Gentilly. Really looking forward to getting some fishing footage and photos with the drone, after a lot of practice flights.
The second trip was June 17. I was joined by Josh Reppel, and we got an earlier start, launching around 6:45am in order to avoid some of what was going to be brutal heat. Right off the bat, it was apparent that the water clarity hadn't improved, but the water was way lower than it had been on the previous trip. I had high hopes that the low water might mean a lot of tailing fish, but we only saw a few throughout the day, and I don't think either of us hooked one. I was surprised that the clarity of the water hadn't improved, and despite the copious amount of sunlight, I don't believe either one of us was able to sight-cast a fish on this trip. We did have some luck blind casting, and I believe I landed 4 fish to Josh's 7. We explored some new areas much further from the launch in the search for better water and fish numbers, and eventually ended up putting in about 10.5 miles of paddling.
My major heartbreak of the day came towards the end of our paddle. After spending much of the day in search of clear water and numbers of fish, we found an area that had nice water, right about the time we needed to head back to the launch.. Curiously enough, there didn't seem to be many fish around, and we weren't even seeing many mullet or baitfish. The area was a semi-circular cove, with a big grass mat in the middle, and several outlets running deeper into very shallow marsh. Using the wind, I was slowly drifting towards one of the cuts into the marsh, casting towards the bank, and looking for fish. Zip - crap, there goes one. zip. zip. zip, zip zip zip zip I had drifted into a school. They're banging into the bottom of my boat as they head anywhere but close to me. Had I been facing the other direction, I might have seen them in time, but such was my luck for the day. Well $hit. Wait, here comes a smaller pod that hasn't seen me yet. No way in hell I'm not getting hooked up if I put the gold spoon somewhere among them. NOPE. Not a single one of the pod wanted anything to do with it, and they all split. At this point, I'm furious, confused, hot, and I'm not having anything to do with all that hippie crap I mentioned earlier about finding beauty in the marsh. I knew there had to be some other fish in the area, and there were. They just would not strike anything I had. I was rejected on the gold spoon, as well as swim baits, even in the most neutral, natural color I could find. At one point I found two fish in a small pond, and put cast after cast right in front of them. They'd swim after the lure and turn at the last minute without hitting it. You can't win sometimes, but that is what makes fishing so interesting and addictive. On the paddle back, we saw some pretty massive alligators, and managed to startle what looked like about a 10' that made a pretty big commotion. We poled around a bit more in the flats on the way back, without seeing so much as a single redfish, which is highly unusual for Reggio. It is very possible it was just too hot for them to be in the shallow water by that point.
Here's some of the lures I used on the second trip:
- zoom fluke rigged weedless (light blue) 1 fish
- Z-man split tail (white) 2 fish
- inline spinner with z-man split tail (white) nada
- gold spoon - one fish
- DOA Cal rigged weedless (red flake) nada
- Matrix shad rigged weedless (clear/flake) nada
- Fly rod - fairly large popper, had one good blow up but didn't connect.
A couple of questions things have stuck in my mind after these two trips, mainly what the cause of the dirty water is, and why the fish are so picky at the moment. I'll keep pondering. Let me know if you know the secrets?