Always a good sight when the marsh is in view....
Gas station crawfish pie is a good way to start the trip....
Arriving at the house, most everyone has already unloaded boats and began the drinking.
Day 1 had 20+mph winds, overcast skies, and generally shitty fishing weather. I decided to hang back and get some supplies I forgot, eat lunch out, and hang around the camp house.
However, some folks had cool boats that allowed them to get to some of the skinny water marsh places a little quicker than with just a paddle.
Day 2 was a little rough. Launched for a long paddle to the marsh and most of the fish were spooky, which is a sharp contrast to the usually aggressive nature of these fish.
These bastards followed me the whole way through the channel, sometimes getting a little too close and causing the pucker factor to go up a bit...
Nothing to show for day 2 as I blew just about every shot I had. Got back to the house in time to enjoy the sunset, some cold beer, and an excellent gumbo.
After hearing some success stories, I knew that I had to make something happen on day 3. I went back to the same place, and more favorable wind and better sunlight made me feel a little more confident.
Snaking my way through the marsh....
I paddled into a flat where I had saw some sheepshead the previous day cruising around an oyster bar. As I paddled in I saw one working the same bar and cast my fly over. As I was stripping it back in he gave chase and I set the hook and brought in my first ever sheepshead on the fly! I've had shots as these before, and something always seems to go wrong. Either the hookset isn't good, they break me off on oysters, etc. It felt good to win this time.
Lots of jellyfish in the marsh that day...
After that fish, I kept having bad luck with the redfish, so I decided to paddle to a new marsh I had never fished before and see what I could do. The creeks seemed a little deeper and closer to big water, so I was hopeful.
I stood up in the kayak and was slowly paddling through when I saw what appeared to be a log floating in the middle of the creek. As I got closer the log was red and I could see that it was a redfish. I had never seen one do that before, so I wasn't sure how he would react. I picked up my fly pole and plopped a shrimp pattern right in front of him and I saw the gills flare and mouth open to inhale my fly. After that, I got to experience a fun cajun sleigh ride! I had no net, and just let the fish tow me around until my buddy could make his way to me. After a long battle and a ride up and down the creek several times, I finally had my largest redfish ever to the boat.
After that fish, I sat and enjoyed a beer. It wasn't too long after that I had to go take some pics of my buddy's fish.
After a long and tiring day on the water, it was back to the house to clean fish and enjoy crawfish étouffée and a shrimp boil.
Hard to pass up roadside satsumas.
This trip always goes by a little faster than I would prefer, but it's nice to know that there's always next year. In the mean time, a good way to re-live some of the adventure is to try new recipes and different ways of cooking the same thing with the few fish kept.
A buddy suggested I keep the throats from the bigger redfish and try them. I've had snapper throats and enjoy them, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I didn't do anything special here, just a little olive oil and blackening seasoning over charcoal with some hickory chips.
Grilled the throat alongside the sheepshead fillets.
The throat was damn good. I don't think I'll ever pass on those again. One of the better parts of the redfish I've had and definitely better than the fillets. It's also a great way to utilize more of the fish and waste less meat.
I tried something a little different with the grilled sheepshead. I have a recipe for pescado con coco I've been wanting to try. It's basically coconut milk, sofrito, and a few other things cooked down into a nice sauce. I poured the sauce over the fillets and the sauce was perfect for a nice piece of grilled fish.