Fishing for Red Drum (Red Fish) WITH HOT TORPEDO 10
Tim Kempton CI
We fished for Red Drum in Louisiana at the Chandeleur Islands and the Louisiana Marshes in the USA in October 2017.
The Chandeleur Islands were so named by the French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville in 1700. These Islands are part of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana. The islands are shrinking after being battered by severe hurricanes such as Georges in 1998 and Katrina in 2005. They are now uninhabited, and only accessible by boat. We flew into New Orleans and sailed from Pass Christian.
Hurricane Nate hit New Orleans 2017 a few days before we arrived. It travelled at 44km/hour, and was the fastest moving hurricane ever recorded in the history of the Gulf of Mexico. It had blown out by the time we arrived, however there was a lot of debris in the water, so we elected to sail from Pass Christian in daylight. Chandeleur Island is 42 nm from Pass Christian.
Red Drum or Redfish (Sciaenops ocellatus) is a gamefish of the Atlantic Ocean, on the East Coast of the USA from Massachusetts and into the Gulf of Mexico. They are related to the Black Drum and can interbreed. Red Drum has a distinctive spot, or spots near the tail, that can disappear as the fish matures. They get the name Red Drum because they give a drumming or croaking sound from their swim bladder when agitated. The nice part is that they relax in the net when kept in the water and do not struggle. They recover quickly and are a great catch and release fish. They have a downward mouth and eat snails, oysters, baitfish, worms and crustaceans.
At Chandeleur Island we were fishing on flats boats, or wading in about 2-3 feet of water, over grass beds. The water was somewhat discolored from hurricane Nate, but we could till sight fish. There were Redfish, Speckled Trout, Ladyfish and Crevalle Jack (a cousin of the GT in the Jack family. It is the thug of the flats).
The weather forecast was for the wind to increase to 20-25knots, so we moved to the Louisiana Marshes. The fishing was different… we fished bayous, oyster flats and grass beds as this is the drainage gateway for the mighty Mississippi River. You can often see the Redfish working in the grass for crabs and snails. You can often hear them “boofing” like a Barramundi as they inhale their prey. At times, when Redfish are in schools and in feeding mode they will attack surface flies. We did not see any schools. The water was somewhat dirty and the level higher. The fish were probably on holidays, but there were enough to catch and give an account as a respected adversary. The wind blew up as predicted.
The Hot Torpedo 10
This is a great rod, and has joined my collection of Hot Torpedoes (4,6,8 and now 10). It has great feel and does not wear you out trying to cast and fish with. I previously had a Sage Xi3 10wt and the difference was considerable. The new Torzite Titanium lines guides are smooth, and made Pauls’ pick and laydown quick cast the cast of choice. I was using a Tarpon Technical 10 WF line, and 7’ leader of 40/20lb. We saw fish that were easily 30- 40lb and so the 10 WT was an insurance.
I used black over purple flies, tied with either bunny tail on 1/0 turned up jig hook (the guides choice), or with ostrich feathers. Land the fly near them and they were catholic in their tastes. They crash the fly and pull hard.
Red Drum are an exciting gamefish for sight fishing. The Bull Red was caught conventionally. Having a HT 10 made the Red Drum experience memorable, even though we were eventually blown out by the weather.
Sadly in Louisiana there is a 25 fish per angler per day bag limit (the same as for Speckled Trout).