Hundreds of square miles of creeks, ponds, and bayous make Biloxi Marsh in Louisiana a sportsman’s playground. And what better way to experience it than to live on a boat 25 miles from civilization right in the middle of the marsh? In this episode, host Joe Cermele takes his best friend Mark to the low country to get schooled in gumbo, southern culture, and sight-casting to reds with a fly rod…which is as addicting as heroin.
The Deal: If you want fast action with reds on a fly rod, there is no better place on the planet to go than the Mississippi Delta in Louisiana. Seriously. Other states have the fish, but they don’t have the miles upon miles of unpressured, hidden backwaters where reds aren’t nervous and hit almost any fly with a ferociousness you have to feel to believe.
When To Go: You can find tailing, cruising reds throughout the Delta and Biloxi Marsh any time of year. However, it’s actually the winter months that present both the most consistently clear water and the biggest fish. During the cold season, the bulls move in from deeper water, giving the fly guys ample shots. Of course, in spring, summer, and fall, you’ll still get plenty of chances to hook reds pushing upwards of 15 pounds, with more 10- to 12-pounders than you can shake a 9-foot, 8-weight at in the mix.
What To Bring: Don’t forget your polarized shades. Pack them, and then pack two more pairs as backups. The fly game totally revolves around your ability to spot the fish. Sun angles and water clarity certainly play a big role, but if your guide says, “11:30…40 feet,” and you can’t see the red, you’re toast. Guide Gregg Arnold recommends carrying an 8-, 9-, and 10-weight rod, however, the 8 will get the job done 95% of the time. Floating lines rated for warm weather are the norm. Believe it or not, fly selection isn’t that critical. Any bushy baitfish imitator in chartreuse, white, or purple will get inhaled.
How To Fish: Step 1: Make sure you have a visual on the fish or its wake, and are sure of the direction it’s moving. Step 2: Put that fly, as guide Rocky Thickstun says, “in a two-foot box right in front of its head.” Step 3: Strip until you feel the weight and don’t lift the rod until the hook is well planted. Redfish have very poor eyesight and are not likely to chase a fly down at a distance, hence the importance of landing the fly close and getting it moving right away. Because you’re ultimately drawing a reaction strike, the fly pattern is not as crucial as getting the bug in a red’s face.
Where To Stay: There are plenty of hotels and motels in the New Orleans area that guides like Gregg Arnold and Rocky Thickstun recommend for their clients. However, if you really want to experience Biloxi Marsh, we recommend booking a stay with Southern Way Charters. They’ll have the 72-foot Southern Way anchored at their private marsh lease when you and your guide arrive via flat’s skiff. The staff is friendly, the food is top shelf, and your quarters will be more comfortable than the best Motel 6. Plus, nothing beats waking up and getting on the reds immediately sans a long run from the dock.
Gregg Arnold/Fish In The Land Of Giants
Rocky Thickstun/Salty Fly Expeditions