Stalking Redfish Along The Lafitte Shoreline
Thursday, February 7th, 2001.
Whew! What a day! We began fishing this morning a
little before 7 o'clock and I didn't even get a bite until after 10 o'clock! Talk about
tough conditions! Blame it on the full moon, say it was because of the low tides, argue
that the gusty winds caused it by dirtying up the water along the shoreline. Well, all
that notwithstanding the bottom line still is I didn't even get a bite, I'm telling you!
So how does all this relate to you? May I suggest
that come this Saturday and Sunday you be content with small favors!
It's still "mud-flat city" across most of
Southeast Louisiana. Most spots we visited this week and last had tide levels running
about 2 to 3 feet below normal. That puts all the water in the marsh smack dab in the
center of the dead ends and pipeline canals where fishermen have to use the ultimate in
strategies to fill a limit. But let me give you a little inside skinny that might help
improve your chances a bit.
Terry Jones, Capt. Phil Robichaux, and
myself found the best activity all day Thursday was well inside the Stone/Lafitte Oil
Field (which you probably know best as the Texaco Canal System). And the approach that we
found worked the best (because the winds were gusting pretty good, you remember) was
"scout and sample." In other words, we must have fished at least two or three
dozen pipeline and dead ends, first scouting them out and then sampling them for the
presence of fish.
When we caught a fish or two, we worked the area
hard, often doubling back a few times making repeated passes along that particular stretch
of shoreline in an attempt to rouse other fish from their haunts. Generally, we found one
fish at most stops, sometimes two. Then it was tear off to another pipeline to start the
"scout and sample" process all over again. I don't expect conditions this
weekend to change all that much from conditions Thursday, so you might want to begin
fishing using the suggestions I propose. If, though, things do change, you'll have to be
versatile enough (and adaptable enough) to accommodate the changes. Your reward, of
course, will be some great fishing action!
Now just for the record, you won't need to go racing
around looking for live bait. Plastics will do the job just nicely. In fact, when all was
said and done, in spite of the low water conditions, we managed to pull out two limits of
decent size reds using quarter ounce jig heads and white plastic Cocahoe tails. I will
tell you that all the fish were holding "tight to the bank" and were
congregating in water about 15 inches deep. I just don't think any of that will change by
this weekend. . .so you might want to use the techniques I recommend and be sure to fish
One "heads up," though. You'll find many of
the fish occupying space around and over oyster reefs. I don't think I have to tell you
that fishing "bottom" over an oyster reef will result in dozens of snags and
hookups, which translates to "lots of lost tackle." Since redfish this week
absolutely will not take a cork, you'll have to fish bottom and you're going to lose a lot
of plastic and jig heads. What do you do to remedy this? You don't! You hang up, you try
to pull free, you break off, and then you re-rig. In other words, you bring lots of extra
Earlier in the week I overhead a couple of sportsmen
talking in the barber shop about going "wintertime fishing." They both seemed to
be of the opinion that they'd rather wait until the temperature warmed up a little to get
out on the marsh. What a shame. It might involve a slightly different strategy, and you
might have to invest in a really warm coat, but there is such great--and
rewarding!--fishing during the cold weather months it almost seems sinful to pass it up
for lack of a layer of "thinsulate!"
Oh, I nearly forgot. In this week's TV show I
mentioned a new recipe entitled "Redfish On The Half-Shell." Here's how
you do it:
1.) Fillet the reds but leave the scales on the
fillets (much the same way you would cut them if you were going to fix them on the grill).
2.) Wash the fillet super well, taking care to remove
the belly lining and all traces of blood.
3.) Place the fillet "scales side down" on
the countertop. Then with a sharp knife begin slicing horizontal cuts in the fillet (about
three-quarters of an inch wide) from the head to the tail. Then make another series of
slices in the opposite direction (diagonally so that the cuts produce diamond shapes in
the fillet). Slice through all the way to the scales, but do not cut through the rib
bones.4.) Then wet the fish thoroughly and dredge it completely in fish fry (I use Frank
Davis Gourmet Fish Fry!), on both sides of the fillet, including the scales. When
completely coated, set the fillet aside for about a minute or so to allow the fish fry to
4.) All that's left is to drop the fillet
scales-side-up into a skillet of hot peanut or corn oil and deep-fry the fillet until the
meat is golden brown on the "down side." Then, using two egg turners, flip the
fish over onto the scales side and continue to fry until the extreme edges of the fillet
begin to curl. When it is ready, remove the fish from the pan and allow it to drain (meat
side down) on a layer of absorbent paper towels.
When you serve it, you'll find that the diagonally
sliced fish will present itself in multiple "diamond" shapes, which can be
effortlessly lifted out of the scales, leaving the strong-tasting bloodline of the fish
still attached to the scales. Served with a wedge a lemon this fish comes out light,
crispy yet crunchy, with an almost "melt-in-your-mouth" texture. And you have
only 6 rib bones to contend with! Try this at your next fish fry.
Oh, yeah--this works best with 16-inch redfish, but
18 and 20 inchers will also do if you got a pan large enough.