Fishing for Redfish in Louisiana

Pro Redfish Tactics For The Ponds and Bayous of Cajun Country.
Bull redfish are available in Louisiana waters year-round
The marshes of southeast Louisiana offer big, aggressive redfish and little fishing pressure. Alex Suescun

It had been a while since I last went fishing for redfish in Louisiana. I competed in the Redfish Cup tour for seven years, and like most of my rivals, I made the run to Cajun waters during tourneys from as far as Mobile, Alabama for the reliable action and the chance to tangle with some real heavyweights. Even on a fast boat, the 200- to 300-mile round trip left a scant couple of hours to fish, but everyone knew the winning limits would come from Louisiana’s fertile marshes.

Many Louisiana redfish surpass the 27-inch limit, but one trophy fish is allowed in the 5-fish daily bag.
The prospect of catching and releasing 20, 30 or more reds of extra large proportions keeps anglers coming back to Louisiana. Alex Suescun

To my delight, three or four events brought me to Louisiana every year. I really looked forward to those — not only to the actual tournaments, but also to the scouting prior. Searching for spots that held the portliest 27-inchers (Louisiana’s upper slot size limit), my partner and I often caught and release two or three dozen redfish daily, many of them oversized. So when a high school buddy mentioned he was planning a trip to the Redfish Capital of the world, I immediately volunteered to trailer my flats boat down.

Begin the search for redfish search for reds in some of the outer ponds, closer to Biloxi Marsh.
Countless ponds and protected coves from Biloxi Marsh to Delacroix hold big redfish. Fabian Guerrero

Redfish Fishing in Hopedale, Louisiana

One of the best destinations for redfish is Hopedale, Louisiana, some 40 miles southeast of New Orleans. Upon our arrival we were met with aggressive redfish that made the 10-hour drive from Orlando, Florida well worth it.

Roseate spoonbills are not very common in southeast Louisiana.
Wading birds, including colorful roseate spoonbills (somewhat rare in southeast Louisiana), help anglers pinpoint extremely shallow areas. Alex Suescun

An array of wading birds, like herons, egrets and these colorful roseate spoonbills (not very common in southeast Louisiana), offered welcome additions to the area’s many sights and sounds, and helped us identify very shallow areas from a distance.

Fabian Guerrero joined us on our trek down to Hopedale, Louisiana.
Big Louisiana reds put Fabian Guerrero’s angling skills to the test. He passed with flying colors. Alex Suescun

My nephew, Fabian Guerrero, came along to get his first taste of redfish fishing in Louisiana. It didn’t take him long to understand why everyone who comes to Louisiana looking for redfish can’t wait to return again and again. Plus he got to try some of his preferred lures and tactics, and hone a few light-tackle techniques with help from some bruiser reds.

Spinnerbaits are great lures for searching.
In Louisiana, redfish often lurk in stained water, so blind casting with spinnerbaits and other search-type lures helps locate fish faster. Alex Suescun

Using Spinnerbaits for Redfish

We began our search for reds in some of the outer ponds, closer to Biloxi Marsh than to Hopedale. The water was high and a bit stained, so I tied on a gold Fin-tech Redfish Spin and did some blind casting in key areas to help our recon, and the strategy soon paid dividends.

Spinnerbaits are great lures for searching.
Spinnerbaits are superb for covering lots of water quickly, and redfish find their flash and vibration irresistible. Alex Suescun

Spinnerbaits are excellent search lures. They allow you to cover water quickly, and the flash and vibration they produce draw strikes when other lures would go unnoticed. Clip-on types, which allow for customizing to match the situation and the local forage, are best. The safety-pin style lets you combine a spinner blade with a weighted swim bait for a more realistic look, but the inline style is better in areas with heavy hydrilla or other dense vegetation, as it goes through the grass with minimal fouling.

Chatterbaits and similar lures, are effective spinoffs of traditional spinnerbaits.
Spinoffs of traditional spinnerbaits, like the Chatterbait and FIn-tech Jitt-R are very effective for redfish also. Alex Suescun

The Chatterbait, a variation of the spinnerbait that uses a blade ahead of a jig head, causing the entire lure to shimmy and vibrate, is another favorite of mine. It has lots of action even when retrieved slowly, and redfish just can’t resist it.

The Jitt-R is designed to be rigged weedless.
Fin-tech’s Jitt-R offers the flash and vibration of a spinnerbait plus a seductive built-in wobble. Alex Suescun

Fin-tech’s Jitt-R is similar to the Chatterbait, but it’s designed to be rigged weedless. I like to add a spinner blade trailer on the bend of the hook with a swivel for even greater flash and vibration.

Baitcasting gear offers more control and power.
Baitcasting gear affords more control than spinning for precision casting, and enables the use of heavier line. Alex Suescun

Baitcasting vs. Spinning

Although the choice between spinning and baitcasting gear comes down to personal preference, when using spinnerbaits or Chatterbaits I find the latter is more conducive to accurate casting and affords better feel to detect a bite when retrieving the lure. By the way, braided line also helps tremendously in that regard, and baitcasting reels enable the use of heavier braid without sacrificing casting distance.

Topwaters cast a long way and draw savage strikes from hungry reds.
Topwater lures cast a long way and are ideal for searching shallow shorelines from a safe distance. Alex Suescun

Topwater Lures for Louisiana Redfish

Working topwaters along grass shorelines and bayou edges is also great fun. There’s finger mullet all over the marshes, a forage easily imitated walking the dog with a topwater. And Louisiana’s aggressive redfish explode on the lures, adding an exciting visual element to the experience.

Using topwater lures for redfish is both productive and lots of fun.
Small to medium size topwaters mimic the finger mullet often found throughout Louisiana’s marshes. Alex Suescun

I prefer medium-size topwaters with only two treble hooks. They make it less strenuous to cast long distances and walk the dog for extended periods, redfish have little trouble fitting them in their mouths, and they are easier to dislodge safely from a hooked fish or from the mesh of a landing net.

Redfish patrolling grass edges are suckers for topwater lures.
Working a topwater along grassy shorelines and bayou edges is a great way to score some hefty reds. Alex Suescun

Shallow Water Redfish in Louisiana

While outer islands and the deeper outside shorelines tend to hold bigger redfish, sight-fishing in shallow ponds and the narrow bayous that connect them yields plenty of upper-slot and oversized fish. But it all happens up-close there, and stealth is of the essence.

Soft-plastic jerkbaits are realistic imitations of small minnows.
The realistic looks and feel of soft-plastic jerkbaits fool many redfish, and they can be rigged weedless. Alex Suescun

In those skinny, protected waters, I often opt for soft plastic jerk baits. They land softly, mimic the finger mullet and mud minnows (aka cocahoes) that reds target in shallow marshes, plus they can be rigged weedless and worked tight against the grass, where small baitfish usually hang out.

Spoon are perhaps the single most popular lure for redfish everywhere.
Weedless spoons cast long distances, even in windy conditions, and they can be effectively retrieved at a range of speeds. Alex Suescun

Spoon Feeding

Of course, weedless spoons should be part of every redfish angler’s arsenal. They are great search lures, particularly during windy conditions when casting bulkier artificials accurately and far is a challenge. Plus they can be crawled slowly over oysters and through the grass for wary fish, or burned at a fast clip to draw strikes from more aggressive reds.

Weedless spoons should be part of every redfish angler's arsenal.
Weedless spoons are a superb option when there’s a lot of grass, oysters, or other potential hangups. Alex Suescun

But not all weedless spoons are created equal. Aside from obvious differences in color, size and weight, their shapes, weed guards and their hooks can vary greatly. For those big Louisiana reds, strong hooks and hardware are critical, and adding a swivel with a split ring to minimize line twist is always a good idea.

Release most redfish to ensure a healthy fishery for years to come.
Louisiana’s 5-fish daily bag limit is quite generous, but that doesn’t mean you ought to keep that many. Take one or two slot-size fish for the table and release the rest. Alex Suescun

Preserve the Resource

Whatever lure you choose when fishing for redfish in Louisiana, chances are you’ll have a fruitful trip. And, while a few snap shots will help you relive the great memories, please be mindful of the fish, they’re a precious resource. Return them to the water quickly and perform CPR as needed to ensure a successful release every time.

Southeast Louisiana's marshes are extensive and fertile.
The salt marshes of southeast Louisiana are vast, healthy and fertile. And most are loaded with redfish. Alex Suescun

If you’ve never gone redfishing in Louisiana, do yourself a favor and plan a trip soon. Fishing pressure is low, the productive fishing areas are as extensive as the marshes, and the resident reds are plentiful, big and hungry.

If you are coming from the east, Hopedale is closer than more famous Louisiana fishing destinations, like Venice, which requires an extra hour of driving, and the fishing can be every bit as spectacular.

There’s not much to Hopedale, just a two-lane road with a handful of lodges (called fishing camps locally) and a couple of boat ramps, including the one at Breton Sound Marina, where they sell ice, live shrimp, beer and soft drinks, and a limited assortment of tackle. So you’ll need to get provisions and boat fuel on your way in.

But once you leave dry land behind and reach the marshes, where you rarely see another boat, the welcoming committee will soon swim up and make sure you enjoy your time in Cajun country. So as they say in Louisiana: Let the good times roll!