The weekend before Thanksgiving, a group of 12 Defective Gene Club members headed down to The Big Easy for 3 days of chasing redfish around the bayou. This was a trip that many of us had never done before, but I’m certain that all of us will do it again.
Our crew flew into the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport where we rented a passenger van and then headed South. After close to an hour's drive through town and across the levy, we arrived at the small commercial fishing town of Hopedale. From there our group arrived at the marina, loaded our gear, hopped on the mothership called the Dogwood Lodge, and began to take in the vast marsh that surrounded us.
Tracy runs a one man show on the Dogwood and quite frankly, he does a phenomenal job. In the morning we were treated to homemade biscuits, sausage, and eggs, similar to what we call a mountain man's breakfast here in Montana! After we gorged ourselves on food, a bunch of dudes who look like they’re about to go skiing in the marsh pack themselves into the dining room to discuss the day of fishing ahead. Overall, we had fairly good weather to chase these fish around. One thing I was not aware of was that the tides in Louisiana are mostly wind driven. Each day the water levels posed different challenges. Most notable on the list of challenges was the task of finding clean water as well as the ideal water level to see these fish. Most of our shots at these fish were within 15’ of the boat. A short backhand cast became the most common method. A few farther, more traditional saltwater shots were also taken when, as our guide Parker would say, the fish were doing “cool redfish shit”. Crawlers on the bank and explosions of water as these fish chased our flies were some of the things Parker was talking about. One key to a successful redfish outing is to not be shy when casting to these fish... They are here to eat. Multiple fish ate with the leader inside the rod causing these fish to almost jump into the boat!
A few different species were caught on our trip: Redfish were the primary target, Sheepshead (Cajun Permit) and their odd full set of human teeth, and probably the ugliest but biggest fish of the trip, the Black Drum. Most of the redfish attack your fly with intensity and assurance, but a few sipped the fly like a brown trout coming up to a hopper on the Madison. Sheepshead were slightly more tricky to fool. The small ones were very spooky, but the bigger fish tended to eat more willingly or at least follow your fly. The hardest part was knowing when they actually ate your fly. Sheepshead will slightly tilt on their side and pick the fly up very gently. It’s much more of a guessing game when trying to set the hook. The Black Drum retrieval is similar to that of the Sheepshead. Once the Black Drum starts tracking your fly, it’s imperative to use small subtle strips to keep your fly right on the bottom. Some of the Black Drum down in Louisiana get massive. The biggest fish that our group was able to land on the trip was close to 50lbs.
Each night we were served incredible authentic Cajun food full of fresh fish, shrimp, spices, and a hefty load of butter. Great service, guides, food, accommodations, and the convenience of being on the boat made the overall experience exceptional. This is a trip I highly recommend for the angler looking for a quick and easy four day get away or the beginner saltwater angler. This is definitely a trip I will be doing again next year and for many years to come.
A huge thank you to Joe Dilschneider for setting up the trip, head guide Parker O’Bannon for lining up all of our incredible guides, Tracy for taking incredible care of us, and to the 11 other anglers who made this group trip so special.
Gear: For a full selection of gear, check out our Redfish collection!
Rods - 8, 9, and 10 weight rods were needed for this trip. If I only had to bring two, I would bring an 8wt and 10wt. The 8wt G. Loomis NRX+, 9wt Thomas & Thomas Sextant, and 10wt Sage X were the highlighted rods for this trip.
Lines - The main thing here is to have a short and powerful head. Anything with a longer head makes those short and accurate casts tough to execute. Only floating lines were needed for this trip. Scientific Anglers Redfish Cold, Scientific Anglers Saltwater Infinity, RIO Elite Flats Pro, and RIO Winter Redfish were our line choices for the trip.
Flies - Black/purple was the top color. Chartreuse/black was next up. The main thing is to have a few different weighted flies depending on the scenario, and flies with olive/brown, black/purple, and some with chartreuse mixed in. The RIO Hopedale Crab for the bigger bull reds worked great. It has a big hook with heavy lead eyes to chase those big ones. RIO’s Shrimp Tease in black/purple, olive/ brown, and rust all caught plenty of fish. The black/purple combo caught a couple of Sheepshead too. We had a few top water flies on the boats just in case the opportunity presented itself. This was a great opportunity to catch some fish on flies you tied up yourself!
Leader & Tippet - Short 5-6’ leaders were key in making those short casts. With the smaller fish 16-20lb tippet is fine, but the guides want 20-30lb for those bull reds. Scientific Angler Absolute Saltwater Fluorocarbon tippet and their monofilament leaders were the go to for this trip.
Other notable gear needed for this trip is a full rain suit! Many of us wore our ski bibs, some kind of nano puff, a warm jacket underneath, and a Gore-Tex rain jacket. Gloves, beanies, long underwear, and of course some polarized sunglasses are also necessities.
By Borden Porter
More Photos From The Trip