The Best Redfishing on the Planet

Where the Mississippi River drains into the Gulf of Mexico, southern Louisiana bull redfish populations are spoiling inshore fishermen.

Louisiana redfish boatside
Honestly, is there such a thing as a "guarantee" in fishing?Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

Before you say "no," drive south down Highway 23 from New Orleans until you reach the small town of Buras, Louisiana. Located along the last stretches of the Mississippi River, a mix of marsh habitat, chocolate freshwater and Gulf water combines to create one of the most prolific red drum fisheries in the world. In fact, I'd wager there is no other fishery — from Chesapeake Bay to Mexico — that offers as consistent action for 40-plus-inch redfish than the marshes that make up the long toe of Louisiana's footprint.

Catching bull redfish is so consistent that some tackle and boat makers come down to the Mississippi Delta in the heat of the summer to slay the slobs (not literally!) and test out new gear and tackle. Lucky outdoor media members get to join in on the fun. This year, headquartered at Cajun Fishing Adventures in Buras, an August fishing and media bash brought together Seaguar, Z-Man, HUK, Yamaha, Plano, Mustad, LiveTarget, 13 Fishing, Power-Pole and Skeeter Boats.

Media from local and national saltwater publications fished with industry partners to put the latest gear through the wringer. Cajun Fishing Adventures' captains provided their boats and local knowledge, Seaguar supplied leader and braided line, HUK handed out fishing wear, Z-Man and LiveTarget chipped in the lures, Plano had the necessary tackle storage, and 13 Fishing contributed prototype saltwater baitcasters and spinners. Each different fishing or boating company provided important tackle, gear or accessories to make the fishing days successful — and, wow, did we slay the bull reds.

Money Back Guaranteed

Capt. Cody Obiol and redfish
Capt. Cody Obiol, who specializes in finding hefty bronze-backs in waters five feet or less, catches bull reds every month of the year. The year-round fishery for bulls differentiates the Buras-Venice area from seasonal hotspots such as Alabama's Mobile Bay, Florida's Mayport Inlet, North Carolina's Pamlico Sound or Chesapeake Bay.Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

Chocolate Milk

bull redfish
Summer rains strengthen the Mississippi's flow, affecting water clarity and how much freshwater inundates the marsh at any given moment. The results can be fascinating, with largemouth bass and redfish occupying the same shorelines. Because saltwater is more dense than fresh, bass are inclined to hang in the top of the water column while reds hug the bottom. This redfish was caught in a bay that edges the Gulf; you won't find any largemouth bass out there.Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

Ring the Dinnerbell

Seaguar fishing leader
Bull reds in Louisiana are often found in open bay waters from 3 to 8 feet. Heavy leader isn't necessary; anglers land fish on 15-and 20-pound test regularly. One necessary piece of gear is a popping cork, used to attract reds in the off-colored waters with its loud cadence. Seaguar's Brian Evans shows a quintessential popping cork rig, with clacking cork, Seaguar Fluoro Premier leader and 40-pound Seaguar Smackdown braided line.Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

Wide Open Spaces

bull redfish in the bay
The biggest red drum aggregate together in summer months to spawn. Wide open bays that lead into the Gulf are top spots to find the reds, but a guide is still necessary to locate the fish. With so much water available to explore, finding the massive bulls can be tricky. One key sign is diving birds and schools of baitfish. Then be on the lookout for massive boils and slicks. Gary Abernethy, of LiveTarget Lures, pulls tight on a fish.Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

Back in the Bayous

redfishing with Seaguar fluorocarbon
Seaguar's Jeff Slater pulled this bronze redfish out of the marshes near Buras, Louisiana, using Seaguar Smackdown braid spooled to a 13 Fishing setup. Slater wanted to take some redfish home for his family, so we left bulls in the bays and went after keepers in the bayous. Plugging along shorelines, the whole experience was very similar to bass fishing, casting spinnerbaits, chatterbaits and topwater plugs.Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

A Fishing Laboratory

spinnerbait redfish catch
A feisty redfish caught on a Z-Man Diezel Spin near Buras, Louisiana. This redfish was one of the few slot-size reds caught during the trip. The Bayou State allows one redfish of its daily 5-bag limit to surpass 27 inches. Most anglers don't keep oversize reds, but the law prevents waste by allowing a bull to be harvested if it accidentally dies during a fight.Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

More Than One Tool for the Job

casting to redfish along shorelines
Capt. Cody Oboil, right, preferred to whip a baitcaster all day, while Slater, left, cast a spinning reel. Both reels worked well, though Oboil placed his bladed bait in some super-tight spots. Between casts, Oboil worked the trolling motor, cruising along the banks and covering water. The reds seemed oblivious to our presence in the shallows.Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

Showing Off

redfish caught on a baitcaster
Is that a bass or redfish grip-and-grin? You tell me. That redfish sure looks like it's posing like a largemouth. Caught on a baitcaster too! Fishing for slot redfish in murky Louisiana waters along shorelines mimics bass fishing remarkably well. Skeeter boats, a well-known bass-fishing battle wagon, is a top bay boat in the area. If bass fishing isn't your thing, sight-fishing opportunities in cleaner, skinnier waters are available too. Capt. C.A. Richardson fishes farther upriver in isolated areas such as Point A La Hache to target slot fish in the shallows.Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

Only More Than 40 Inches Matters

bull redfish louisiana 13 fishing
Ricky Teschendorf, product manager of 13 Fishing, landed this tank of a redfish. Bull reds are so prevalent that guides like Capt. Terry Lambert only measure fish if they're 40-plus inches. Fish that measure past 45 inches get remembered, but fish over 50 inches garner bragging rights at the dinner table.Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

After the Fight

13 fishing bull redfish
Teschendorf releases his fish after a quick photo.Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

Into the Brush

redfishing Roseau cane shorelines
Roseau cane seems omnipresent among the endless shorelines, housing reds as they swim in and around the stalks during high water. Capt. Terry Lambert points out a redfish to Seaguar's Brian Evans as he casts in front of the fish. Cajun Fishing Adventures lodge owner Ryan Lambert jokes that Florida redfish run away when they see the shadow of a lure cast their way, but Louisiana redfish open their mouths wide like a receiver ready to catch a football. There might just be some truth to that.Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

When the Drag Finally Stops Singing

seaguar redfish Louisiana
Out on the bay, Seaguar's Brian Evans hooked a redfish that just won't stop. Some reds swim toward the boat before taking drag, others stubbornly pull against drag from the get-go, and the biggest, baddest red drum never let us get a look at them. Hits like a freight train, but comes to the boat a little too easily? That's probably a catfish.Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

Breaking A Sweat

Brian Evans redfish
Evans eventually brought his redfish to the boat, but not without breaking a sweat. Protecting breeder red drum is vital for future stocks, so captains and anglers recognize not to utilize too light of tackle and prolong the fight.Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

Underneath the Cork

Z-Man redfish catch
A jig-and-plastic combo is the most common bait to tie below a cork. Z-Mans (pictured) are popular baits here because of ElaZtech's durability, but also because of their bright colors and action. When a soft-plastic bait finally gets destroyed, an angler can easily rig a new bait without having to re-tie. Z-man's Jonathan Zucker and Joey Prochazka brought down a bunch of new offerings introduced at this year's ICAST show, highlighted by the new swimming Trout Trick paddle tail.Courtesy LiveTarget

An Unpredictable Topwater Bite

LiveTarget Mullet and redfish
Louisiana's bull reds are easy to catch — yeah, I said it — if anglers throw the right lures. A popping cork rig should always be rigged on the boat, as there isn't a more productive presentation out there. But after a couple of anglers catch 10 bull reds in an hour on corks, different lure experimentation begins. At least I did, casting a LiveTarget Mullet Walking Bait. One great sign that reds are feeding on top is when your popping cork itself is attacked. Pictured, another boat in our group of anglers had better topwater luck than me.Courtesy LiveTarget

On the Horizon

fishing near waterspout
Notice anything along the horizon in front of angler Brian Evans?Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

Louisiana Waterspout

Louisiana water spout
That's a pretty gnarly waterspout a good distance from where we were fishing. Still, it forced us to be especially careful in route back to the ramp. I've seen a fair amount of waterspouts in Florida, but never more than I see off Venice. A couple years ago running back from the rigs, we saw three different waterspouts at once. Louisiana's summer weather is nothing to mess with.Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

Swimbaits Work

LiveTarget swimbait and redfish
One other lure option to tie below a popping cork is a swimbait. With its built-in weight and hook, swimbaits retrieve equally as well as jig-and-soft bait combos. When the fishing's really hot, a surprising number of captains "straight-line" a swimbait to the braided main line. Simply put, that means no popping cork, no leader — just a swimbait tied directly to the braid. A straight-line connection works in Louisiana's off-colored waters, but I'm not sure how well it would work in crystal-clear conditions. LiveTarget's Gary Abernethy and Vic Cook tested brand-new LiveTarget soft swimbaits on the reds.Courtesy LiveTarget

New From Plano

Plano Guide Series tackle bag
Plano's Ryan Olander and Clark McCune introduced to us a number of new Plano products at the event, including a Guide Series of tackle bags (pictured), soft-plastic stowaway boxes, and zipper-less Z series boat bags. The Guide Series tackle bags feature a waterproof utili-tackle rail system base with elevated rubber feet to protect against wet boat decks. Check out all their 2017 products at their website.Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com

Dinner is Served

dinner at cajun fishing adventures
Each night after fishing, all anglers met as a group to chow down on delicious southern cuisine at the Cajun Fishing Adventures lodge. If you had to guess, what do you think we ate? Shrimp, yellowfin tuna, redfish and seatrout were all served, giving us a healthy dose of the quality seafood Louisiana has to offer.Sam Hudson / sportfishingmag.com
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