Rat Red, Red Drum, Redfish----Call them whatever you like, but after almost being decimated in the 80's, these fish have made a remarkable comeback in south Louisiana. With the "Blackened Redfish Craze", thousands of tons a year of this species were landed annually for the commercial market. Today, redfish are protected by the federal government & have since achieved gamefish status.
The Redfish or Red as its more commonly known, has a copper colored upper body with a white underside. Near the tail are one or more black oscillated spots. Unlike the reds cousin, the black drum, this fish has no chin barbels. The redfish has a small horizontal mouth with bands of teeth which are larger in the front of its upper jaw. The redfish is common throughout the gulf coast. Its habitat is the inland marsh & estuaries as well as the coastal waters. The adult mature fish are known as "Bull Reds" & prefer the open gulf, but the bulls will school up around the inland passes or channels during spawning season. The younger reds frequent the numerous shallow bays & duck ponds all along the Louisiana coastline. The redfish gains bull red status in La. once it exceeds the 27in. mark. These large fish can weigh over 40 lbs., with the current state record of 61 lbs. The redfish has a diet mostly of shellfish such as shrimp and crabs but will also consume fish such as pogies and croakers. In general, in South Louisiana many fishermen use shrimp for the smaller reds and cracked or whole live crab for the bull reds.
SUMMERTIME FISHING FOR REDFISH
Spring and summer can be very explosive times for redfishing. These fish will be located in the shallows & will hit many different types of lures. Weedless gold spoons are very productive as they can be used just about anywhere. Topwater lures such as the dorky mullet, chug-bug, redfin, top dog mirr-o-lures and even buzz-baits will give you countless hours of fun. My personal favorite is the Bayou Chub Minnow. The "chub" is a 3 in. plastic minnow with great tail action that vibrates slightly on a normal retrieve. For the deeper areas, blue and chrome rattletraps are a killer! Best areas to fish are shallow (2 ft. or less) bays or ponds. Look for run-outs or "trenasses" to fish on a falling tide as the reds will stack up at the mouths of these ditches. While fishing a shoreline of a bay or pond, notice any irregular features such as points, coves, pockets or inlets to other ponds. Redfish will normally be present at such locations waiting to ambush its next meal. Don't forget our barrier islands as the surf will also hold large quantities of reds. Fish near or in the passes for bull reds as they are present just about year round. Live cocahoe minnows are the choice for fishing the surf areas.
WINTER FISHING FOR REDFISH
The months of October-March offer great fishing for redfish. The cold fronts start to blast through the area on a regular basis and water is drained from the marsh due to the strong north winds. The redfish have no where to go but to the deeper canals and bayous. Reds will stack up in the pockets or dead-ends of these canals & will hit just about anything presented to them. My bait of choice during this time is the artificial Bayou Chub Minnow. My favorite colors are black/chartreuse tail and purple or smoke with a chartreuse tail. Shrimp or other live bait can be used but is seldom needed. Finding clear water will improve your catch ratio but reds can be caught in off-colored or dirty conditions when using live bait. Pound for pound, the redfish is as tough or tougher than any other fish in the South Louisiana marsh. Its aggressive and ruthless nature makes it one of the states most prized game fish and we certainly hope it will stay that way!
HOTSPOTS IN THE COCODRIE/DULARGE AREA: Coastal barrier islands, Caillou Lake, Lake Mechant, Lost Lake, Lake Boudreaux, Bayou Grand Caillou and Bayou Terrebonne. All of these areas are in Terrebonne Parish located south of Houma, La.
Capt. Bill Lake
Bayou Guide Service
210 Gaynell Dr.
Houma, La. 70364
Capt. Bill Lake
Bayou Guide Service