|| |—| || |DiBenedetto catches up with an old friend near Golden Meadow, Louisisana. | According to our surveys, you, the SWS reader, love redfish. Whether you live in Florida or North Carolina or Texas, reds speak to you in a way other inshore fish don’t. Given the choice, you prefer them over snook, bonefish and even tarpon. I understand. I can’t get enough of them either. This may have something to do with the large red I hooked on a piece of shrimp from my family’s dock when I was a kid. I was hoping for nothing more than a croaker or whiting, but an eight-pound red took the bait. Sensing its size, I started hollering for help, as I didn’t have a net. My neighbor, Mr. Gerken, heard me shouting and, being a fisherman himself, showed up to offer assistance. With the fish on the dock, I could do nothing but stare. I had never caught an inshore fish that was so big. I was, to put it mildly, suddenly obsessed with reds.
When the Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme introduced the world to the gustatory delights of blackened redfish in the ’80s, the ensuing commercial fishing pressure nearly took down the entire stock of these great fish. For this reason, I joined the newly formed Atlantic Coast Conservation Association (now the CCA) to fight back. The good folks at the CCA and other conservation groups that joined the fracas won, and I rejoiced.
No surprise then that I recently accepted an invitation to a fish camp near Golden Meadow, Louisiana, as a guest of Bruce Holt of G. Loomis and Ricky Green, one of the legends of the Bassmaster Tour. Tommy Martin, a former Bassmaster Classic winner, was also at camp. If you think two men who made a living fishing fresh water don’t know jack about the salt then think again. Within minutes of arriving at camp, I was out on Green’s boat, and he was showing me one of his favorite red tricks. Instead of a typical popping cork, he likes to fish a popping plug, specifically a Lucky 13, with a bait trailer. He removes the rear hook and leaves the front hook for reds that hit the plug.
He swears the Lucky 13 draws in more fish with its renowned gurgle. Within a half-dozen casts I had a fish.
Martin was no slouch either. He was weaned on salt water and makes a habit of hauling in nice fish. As is tradition at fish camps in Louisiana, we kept a couple of the fish we caught each day and feasted on them for dinner. Sitting around the table on that Cajun bayou were men who had fished all over the world, but there was only one thing we talked about redfish. To learn how to catch more, turn to page 50.