Maxi and I had to go back one more time to be
sure we were not just dreaming. My total on
redfish personally is about 175 this year
starting in July and with all the guys who have
fished with me during the ten days spent on the
water, I have seen close to 350 come over the side
of the boat. I don't know if this venue can
continue so if you have not taken the time to try
it you should. Someone will have to find out about
this place and make it a restricted zone. Of all
these fish, one died from overstress (found him the
second day) and we ate two this trip. That story is
included here. The rest are out there breeding and
waiting to stretch more lines.
This trip hatched when Maxi got "paid" for a lecture
in 'fishing time' with a new guide to us, but widely
known as, Theophile Bourgeois. He only had one day
for us so we made a date with Kirby LaCour for the
day before Theophile's "Cajun Style" fishing experience
Maxi picked me up in his new airplane and we toured
the beaches from my place in Florida all the way to
New Orleans. I took digital shots of all our fishing
spots along the way and of more spots that look promising,
then we rented a SUV for the two days. Our accommodations
were once again in the world-class bed and breakfast of
Spike and Leslie just south of the big city. The party
was on as usual even if Spike was sitting alert the first
night guarding the southern US from terrorists. A dinner
with the worlds largest margaritas at a local beanery led
to an early night and an early get up to drive the hour
and a half south to meet with Kirby.
I walked outside at o'dark thirty and the fog was so
thick we had to hustle out to get on the road for the
two and a half hour trip. It did not really matter
as Kirby was going twenty miles an hour too and he was
only about five miles ahead of us. We even ate a
breakfast along the way to wait for the light to
Kirby had suggested it was the right time of the year
to catch some big fish, verses just a lot of fish.
That is what we needed to hear. Both of us have a
bunch of these nice six to twelve pound reds in the
picture books but we both had in the back of minds
that our luck could not keep up. You are NOT supposed
to be able to catch fish every time you go out. If
that was possible it would be called "catching."
We launched the boat about eight-thirty and Kirby
motored for less than fifteen minutes and started
to pole. He told us the big ones were going to be
out roaming around in an hour or so. Until the sun
popped out we would see if we could find some 'normal'
sized ones for a few minutes. Maxi started up front
and I backed him up from the rear. He got a couple
shots in close but I hooked up first try with a fish
only five feet from the side of the poling platform.
This fish took off and gathered about ten pounds of
weeds and then came unbuttoned. The angles of me
pulling up, the weeds pulling sideways and the fish
doing circles to gather more weeds bent the hook 90
degrees. Without a barb it just came out of his mouth.
I got a second one on and the line came apart at a knot
in the leader. My fault, I used a leader from the last
trip that was probably just worn out. Maxi was still
tossing at fish and had not hooked up when I got the
third one on only to bend a second hook and lose my
third. Maxi got one in and released and then another
while I was still scratching my head in wonder. I did
finally get one but was certainly behind. Kirby had
threatened to come off the tower and tie me a leader
that could pull up a submarine but I fought him off.
This one was interesting as Maxi was fighting his and
there was another following the fish hooked. I just
tossed in on top of the swirling fight and the other one
lunged at the fly. We figured out how to unwind from each
other and fought the fish from opposite sides of the boat.
About that time we had pushed through the shallow flat
and to the deeper one Kirby wanted us to fish. As we
came over the brink, up swam two or three nice "little"
fish like the ones we had just boated, the eight to
ten-pound kind. We started in on these until we spotted
a monster that followed these fish. This guy must have
been four feet long. Maxi got him to look at his spoon
fly a couple times as he knew there was something around
to eat but did not like that fly. We swapped places and
I tossed a different color spoon but I could not get him
to eat that either. He left us with hearts pumping and
longingly wondering what that would have felt like.
Kirby did a circle out to deeper water and came back
across the deep flat from an up sun angle giving us
the best chance to see the fish in the deeper water
(three feet maybe), which was somewhat murky too. I
was thinking we were not going to see anything in
these conditions after ten minutes of looking, but was
smart enough to know that something was going to happen
if Kirby was still trying. Boy was I right. Kirby
yelled, "big red eleven o'clock thirty feet." Right
where he was talking about was a long orange smear
going right to left big enough to be a large child
in a pumpkin suit swimming just below the surface.
I tossed a fly but did not get it in front of this
fish. Kirby thought that it might have been a
thirty-pound fish and I sure could not doubt that.
The fish started showing up in ones and twos and
they all looked like monsters. If they were down
on the bottom you did not see them until they were
right under the boat. If they were near the top,
and down sun, you could see them for fifty feet.
They did not stay up long and getting a good shot
on one was proving to be hard. We both switched
to ten-weight rods and heavier flies with more
"meat" to them, which made the casting tough in
the short quick shot scenario necessary in this
situation. We did get a couple of them to turn
on the fly but these reds were so big they needed
it to be right in front of the nose on the first
cast or they would pass it up. If you pulled it
out of the water near them or waved it over their
heads they spooked. These fish were not big because
they were dumb. Like tarpon, the fly needed to end
up in front of them without them knowing how it got
Maxi was up and I was changing flies when Kirby called
out a school of fifty fish coming by on the left from
the rear. Maxi tossed right in the middle of them
hoping for one of the big ones but a little ten pounder
grabbed it up and gave him a mighty fight. He was now
well in ahead of me in numbers of fish and larger ones
two. He did lose a fish and fly to a failed leader
(I tied it, damn it) in a weed situation but my earlier
three losses meant he was still ahead.
My time up after this school was active with several
fleeting shots, one at what looked like Nessie. It
was two really big ones in close trail showing an
eight foot long bar of gold/orange going by. I
think they were doing some ritual smelling thing
as I got the fly in the snot locker without even
a notice taken. I tossed at one big one going under
us and felt a tap. I had the hook snag on the underside
of the tail for just an instant and pulled the tail up
near the surface ten feet out. I came unhooked
fortunately but that tail was easily a foot wide.
These fish were big.
Just after that two medium sized fish showed up
coming head-on up high in the water at fifty feet.
I got a shot off that landed a couple of feet in
front of the left fish and he "lit up" like Alfred
E. Newman (the gills flared out and caught the sun
like big ears) and just flat sucked up the fly. I
set it and the eight inch wide head swung back and
forth before he turned away and started pulling the
The fish never got a big run on me as I had the drag
down pretty tight and had a rather heavy leader
(fifteen pound) because of my earlier line breaks.
He did, however, slice down and through a pile or
two of weeds doubling his weight. Kirby moved the
boat deftly allowing me to keep the fish and the
weeds in line so as not to bend another hook. Kirby
was yelling at Maxi to help me with the weeds but he
had taken advantage of the moments Kirby and I were
busy and hooked up another fish from the back and was
busy pulling on yet another ten-pounder. I fell into
the tarpon end-of-fight routine with the fish trying
to pull away and me countering the direction with heavy
pressure. If he went right I would pull left. If he
switched I did too. We finally got Maxi to put up his
pole and help me in clearing weeds off my line. IGFA
be damned (not legal to get help in a record fight) I
wanted to get this one in.
End game was that he finally started rolling on his
side when the pressure was applied which usually means
you are tiring a fish out. Kirby pulled out the only
net he had but the fish would run out of range when
he saw Kirby's pretty face. When I could finally get
him near the boat, the net was just a little small
for the fish. Kirby had to half net and half wrestle
him into the boat. It was just about forty inches
long and weighed in at over twenty-three pounds. The
fight took about ten minutes but seemed like an hour.
Maxi told me that I was chuckling like the idiots on
TV do when they fight fish.
That fish put me in the back-end position until Maxi
could get a big one. It was dead for a long time and
we went through the flat twice again after motoring
back to the other side once and then with Kirby
polling to the reset position just in case that would
keep the fish there. It was at this point that Kirby
said we were through here and 'we be gone to another
spot.' Maxi looked down and about twenty feet away
was another good-sized fish bearing right down on him.
He got his first cast right on the nose and this one
also 'just bit it,' right below the rod tip. The same
flair of the gills and everything but this time this
was really close so the show was rather fantastic.
The setting of the hook happened when the fish swirled
and headed off. Maxi tugged twice to set the hook and
the fish ran off about thirty yards of line. Maxi did
not have his drag as tightly set as mine was. About
the time he got on reel and was starting to put on some
pressure the fish reversed and had him stripping again
as it came by the nose of the boat and headed off in
the other direction. Maxi ended up 'on the reel' and
palming to slow this run down. This resulted in the
fish doing the reversal trick again. Back to stripping
again and off to the races on another run it went but
not so far this time. This area was mostly weed free,
but deeper, so the fish just kept circling around and
under the boat. I stood my ground looking for fish to
toss at. The tromping around the boat by both Maxi and
Kirby finally scared all the others off and I just
watched the show and tried to keep out of the way.
Once again Kirby trying to apply the net looked like
someone attempting to pick up a pumpkin with a tablespoon.
They managed to get it to boat after at least a 15-minute
fight. Maxi swore it was over a half hour. This was some
feisty fish. Long fights can damage fish but both of these
big fish almost drenched Kirby when released like they were
giving us the one finger salute while leaving. Maxi did
chuckle several times and I did not have to comment as he
caught himself at it and tried to suppress it. It must
come natural when you are doing something you did not
even imagine was possibly that good. I remember back
when I was fifteen and. . . This fish's picture is the
opener for this article.
We did leave after this fight and then did something I
have never done before when fishing reds. . .we killed
a couple of them. Maxi liked the term 'harvested' but
it was like hurting your kid brother. Why we did this
was because we were accepting the hospitality of a New
Orleans famous caterer and he wanted some fresh redfish
to put on a dinner, for us. Maxi accepted this deal
and started working on me two weeks earlier. I am not
sure if I ever bought into it but the quest was
established and the feast already planned and heavily
anticipated. What was a man to do?
Well, all I could do is set the standards of the
sacrificial act. No big fish (over six pounds), no
fish with multiple spots, no really gold ones (they
vary in color), none early in the day, no right handed
fish, only ones with blemishes, and then only if Kirby
would let us. Maxi got Kirby, reluctantly, to go along.
I really am not dead set against murdering fish, if there
are plenty of them and then only enough for a meal.
Kirby would have never let us kill one of the big ones
as they are probably older than 16 years at the size we
caught and just getting into breeding. They could live
until over forty if nobody kills them and fill the seas
with new fish to giggle at. These two were probably just
over two in age.
We went to a spot I had been to before and got a
couple more fish each. Maxi had to throw back both
for rule violations, one for too big and the other
for too many spots. I, unfortunately, got the two
small ones we kept. One was a seven-pounder and
the other about five. They were back in the live
well for over an hour banging around complaining
about the unusual treatment before they got butchered.
It was, once again, a great day provided in a long
line of great days Kirby has hosted. I hope he does
not throw me off his list for eating his fish. It
will be a while before I do that again. These fish
are worth catching a few times in their lifetime.
The meal that night for six, with the fresh fish
done a couple of New Orleans' ways, was beyond
comparison. Spike is the master of a kitchen any
master chef would drool over. He had four or five
apparatuses going and turned out the meals while
entertaining the crowd much like Emeril on the
food network, only the cook and the guests had a
lot more wine than they show on camera. I almost
got over my lack of zest for "harvesting," but it
was the wine speaking. Maxi and I were full, happy
and asleep by ten that evening.
I'll tell the Theophile story later. It deserves
its' own pages and this is too long, again. If you
have not experienced fishing like this, and would
like to in this life, I'd be quick to contact either
Kirby LaCour 504-464-1697 or Rich Waldner, Kirby's
partner, 504-319-2256 and do a trip with them before
this show ends. There is no better sight fishing for
reds on this earth. I'm going back over very soon with
another friend to try for the big ones again and could
make it a foursome if we got both guides freed up.
Send me an email if interested. ~
Captain Scud Yates firstname.lastname@example.org