On The Fly Saltwater
West Point a la Hache, Louisiana
Article and photos by Jimmy Jacobs.
“Strip, strip, let it sink; strip, strip, he’s got it! The words were coming from Capt. Eddie Adams up on the poling platform of his vintage Ranger 186 Phantom flats boat. On the casting deck, On The Fly South Associate Editor Polly Dean heeded his instructions to a tee. She punctuated his advice with a solid strip-set that caused the surface to explode as the first redfish of the day thrashed violently.
A hook up!
The action was taking place on a marsh area just off the fringe of Lake Herman at West Point a La Hache, Louisiana, roughly 40 miles south of New Orleans. The marshes stretched from here southward through Plaquemines Parish to the town of Venice, offering some of the most productive shallow water angling for red drum to be found anywhere in the world.
Once Polly’s fish was subdued, and in the boat, she was a bit surprised that the red was just 22 inches, because of the rugged fight it had provided. These brightly-colored, copper-hued fish are broad-shouldered and always ready for a battle.
Polly, Capt. Eddie and one of her redfish.
To see a video of a couple of Polly’s redfish battles from this day, check out our YouTube Channel.
Although these waters hold seatrout, flounder, sheepshead and black drum, the year-round action for redfish is the mainstay of fly fishing in the area. These flats that average less than 3 feet deep stretch for miles, fringed by marsh grasses. The usual tactic is to pole slowly along the shoreline, watching for singles or small pods of the reds. Once sighted, the fly needs to be cast beyond and then stripped across in front of the fish.
For this fishing, Capt. Adams tied on a black-and-chartreuse Clouser-style fly on one rod, while the other got a toad pattern with an olive EP fiber body and an orange brush with striped bunny strip tail. Both were tied with weighted dumbbell eyes. This extra weight is good for getting the flies down quickly when they are dropped in front of the fish. Capt. Adams pointed out that regardless of the specific pattern, your fly should mimic a crab. He has found that more than 90 percent of the stomach contents of redfish harvested in this region is composed of crabs.
The captain on the poling platform.
Quite often this fishing is not classic long-distance casting action. The redfish may suddenly show up in the range of just 5 to 20 feet from the boat. “When they are close, you have to get right in their faces to get a reaction strike,” Capt. Adams noted. “They are used to having a crab or shrimp jump up off the bottom right in front of them.” That’s another reason for having a weighted fly that sinks quickly.
The reds here regularly run up to 12-pounds, but fish in the 25- to 30-pound range occasionally show up in the shallows. Regardless of their size, weather conditions dictate how good the fishing will be.
The marsh waters are a dark tannic color, but actually are quite clear, making the fish easily spotted. However, cloudy days or excessive wind that puts a chop on the water can make the fishing difficult to impossible. Our first day was a bit breezy but mostly sunny. After a slow start, by late morning we were regularly spotting reds and getting hookups, though a number of the fish were small puppy drum. Then as the afternoon began to heat up, Capt. Adams located a school 60 to 70 larger fish on an open flat. By the end of the fishing, we had put a couple of reds in the boat that pushed double-digit weights.
Capt. Eddie releasing a Lake Herman red.
Capt. Adams is an accomplished redfish tournament angler and 23-year veteran of putting fly-casters on reds in these marshes. For more information or to book a day of redfish action in Plaquemines Parish, contact him through is website at louisianaredfishmaster.com or call 504-975-7902.