A recent request to speak at a conference seemed an onerous undertaking after a month of continuous travel – until I found out the conference was in New Orleans (NO). Hasty changes were made to existing work commitments and before I knew it I was US bound. The trip was a quick five day stay including a day at the conference, a couple of days of Halloween shenanigans (a NO speciality) and most importantly a day chasing Redfish on the Biloxi Marsh. The next challenge was to find a guide to fish this vast area. This turned out to be no mean feat in peak season. Fortunately Captain Dave Best from www.southernfly.com had a single spare day going the day after I arrived.
After the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina I was interested to see how NO has recovered; however outside of some dead trees in the marsh and the odd landlocked boat, the houses as pictured below were the only residual sign.
The Biloxi Marsh is around an hour from NO. It is a seemingly endless area of 4-5 foot deep flats punctuated with low grassy islands. A ‘Keys-style’ flats boat is used to pole around silently whilst polaroiding for the redfish, which cruise the edges or ’float’ stationary (especially the big bulls) waiting for a meal. The water is alive with food and it’s no wonder the redfish and other flats species are happy here.
Our day started slowly as the preferred long, stable period of weather prior to my visit hadn’t eventuated with cool, rainy days making up the preceding week. Fortunately by 10am the sun was high and we found enough clear water to start seeing some fish to cast our Toad and Deceiver-style flies to. I fished a 10 weight Sage Method and with the wind and fish size it definitely was not too much rod. On calmer days a 9 weight would suffice.
Fish number one was a textbook red showing the stunning spots that seem to vary like a finger print.
After this they just got bigger and bigger….
Capt’ Dave with another pig.
I could go on and on about the quality of this fishery. It’s as fun as anywhere I’ve cast a fly to sighted fish and it may just be the most fun. When you couple that with the culture and madness of the French Quarter, the Creole food and the southern hospitality, it makes it a bucket list destination. I’m going back to do it properly as soon as I can!