Catching gulf redfish and trout en route to Big Bend, Texas
Two boats caught this “boatload” of red fish and trout.
After two days camping at Salt Springs Recreation Area south of Palatka and celebrating the end of spring break with three young grand-kids, we pointed the RV west and headed to Texas.
The original intent of this trip was to visit Big Bend National Park, one of the largest, most remote and least visited national parks in the country. Big Bend is still on the agenda, but other unexpected stops along the way will delay our original time table. It’s just part of the way we travel this country, taking our time and stopping for a few days when finding new adventures.
Not a bad day’s work as Martha shows off another big red fish.
Like most of these extended cross-country trips, the destination is sometimes cloudy as milk, frequently subject to change and likely to be twice as long in duration than originally planned. But who cares. That’s because we never travel on a set schedule and will stop on a whim and spend a day here and there just being tourists from Florida. The sunshine state is beautiful and unique and a great place to live but there’s so much more spread out across this country that we are determined to experience before our days on the road end.
It happened a day or so after leaving Salt Springs, which is part of the Ocala National Forest, that a telephone conversation with a friend in Florida relayed a recent near unbelievable fishing trip for red bass and sea trout off the shores of southern Louisiana in the waters Gulf of Mexico.
Not a couple to stay to a schedule, we added three days to the itinerary, stopped one night in New Orleans to visit one of the city’s famous cajun restaurants and thanks to our friend back home for the heads-up, added a day of fishing out of Venice, La., with Allen Moreau, Sr. at Native Adventures fishing guide service. Moreau has been fishing these waters for over 40- years and is one of the most successful and best-known guides in the business. The guides here drive 26-foot flat styled boats with 300 horsepower motors, two power anchor poles on the rear and a remote controlled, GPS equipped high powered trolling motor on the front. They are outfitted to catch fish.
Moreau was already scheduled (he’s booked up through December) but turned us over to one of his half dozen or so fishing buddies who guided us through moisture laden early morning Mississippi River fog, dodged a couple barely visible fog horn blowing ocean going freighters and drove about a half hour before stopping the boat in shallow waters surrounded by head high grasses. Throwing light spinning tackle with popping floats trailing live shrimp, we immediately started catching red bass, landing a couple big fish in the 30 to 35 pound category and trout, mostly 13 to 20 inches long. The catching did not slow much for almost five hours except for one brief period during a tidal change which gave us a chance to catch our breath and eat a sandwich. At one point, ten casts to the edge of the high grass netted 10 red bass, several of which were in the 12 to 15 pound category.
I’ve fished most of my life and this was among maybe a handful of mind-blowing, highly successful “catching” trips. It was a special day.
Capt. Moreau and his crew cleaned and vacuum-packed 15 red fish and 25 trout which filled our RV refrigerator. More reds were caught and released during the trip because we had already filled our five fish per person limit. The trout limit here is 25 per person but it’s difficult to leave biting fish to hunt for more fish. One of the 12-pound reds was grilled on the half-shell that evening outside and over an open fire for dinner at our campsite at Yellow Cotton Cabins and RV Park.
The scenery on land and offshore in this part of Louisiana is dominated by the oil, gas and fishing industry. The peninsula of land that stretches south of New Orleans, is protected on both sides by huge levies, cut in half by the Highway 23 to the end of the road past Venice. The levies are built to protect the small land mass from the Mississippi River on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other.
Most new construction including homes and several new schools, are built up high on stilts, hoping to dodge the next major storm. Many homes and businesses that were built flat on the ground were destroyed a decade or so ago by Hurricane Katrina, leaving many building shells and standing vacant.
We were surprised to see many small orange groves along the roadway. Locals said the area boasted many citrus groves before Katrina and the few who chose to rebuild, have trees about 10 to 12 feet high.
Scars of this nation’s worst natural disaster are still visible here today. And even the nation’s largest offshore oil spill, does not seem to have slowed the fishing. At least not on this day.
NEXT: Dodging storms in Lake Charles and Austin, TX.