I thought I would do a post about our Spring saltwater trip. This is mostly a kayak trip, although jon boats with an outboard are a good idea too. If I had a fleet of flats boats in a marina on the coast somewhere I guess we would do something different. If you have a flats boat, bring it by all means, but v-hull boats will have a problem with the shallow water unless you just want to fish the channel and soak bait, which won’t win anyone’s respect in a fly-fishing club.
I suggested Grand Bay NERR for several reasons. We talked about other venues and certainly the fishing resources are much better in Louisiana, but unless you are near the beach, like Grand Isle, you will have to stay in the kayak because the bottom in LA will typically be too soft to wade. For first-timers, I thought it would be a good idea to have some places where members can beach a kayak, stretch their legs, wade fish, drift a clouser through the current or jerk a popping cork and a clouser along a bank. Grand Bay has that because it has some hard bottom areas and it has the Sound. For the serious redfish warrior, there should still be shots at sighted redfish, although all of it is an index thing, subject to the forces of nature. But, that’s another reason I suggest Grand Bay, it has options. Most importantly, it has some protection from the wind, and if it all goes completely South, it is a beautiful area with Indian shell middens, salt pannes to explore with pine trees, bald eagles, ospreys and diverse plant life. It is also hard to get lost because of the pines, the Chevron factory and the phosphate stacks, which make for easily visible navigation markers.
Some might complain about the distance to paddle. We could easily go to Louisiana and I know an area where we could be in a fishable area within a 300 yard paddle, but it will be full of grass and you can forget about getting out of the yak. Since we havea mixed bag of folks, I think we should have a mixed bag of options and Grand Bay has that. I have caught Jack Crevalle, redfish, speckled trout, lady-fish, Spanish and flounder all on the same trip, all from different areas in Grand Bay, all on fly rod.
My proposed fishing area starts at the private “Point of Pines” launch, at the end of Grand Batture road. The map below shows the route to what I consider the first good fishing grounds. This is Bayou Cumbest and it is basically the old Escatawpa river channel, unfortunately the river, prehistorically abandoned the channel and now it is tidal flow only. Notice some water on the left side of the photo at the sixth green marker from the ramp. That creek is within 300 yards of the ramp and I have caught redfish in there by sight casting them as well as speckled trout at the area where the creek and the channel meet. That’s a short-paddle place or just someplace to try on the way. It’s not a big area so it’s a quick fish.
Route #1 -Behind Bang’s Island, the short program
The last green marker on the map is the entrance to a creek and you can fish it all the way down to the bays behind Bang’s Island. Fish do get blown out by the first few boats, but if you wait after boats go through and just hang out in the weeds while watching a little cut or bay, fish can re-appear. Once you follow the creek out, you will be behind Bang’s Island and there are numerous nooks and crannies to fish. By going West towards Bang’s lake you will find plenty of area that holds fish. This area is more protected from the wind. Also, there is some wade-able areas in there. If you can see sand, you can probably wade it, but wear shoes and be prepared for it to be too soft.
Route #2 – Bang’s Lake
For the slightly more die-hard fishermen, the Bang’s lake area offers lots of little bays and flats that redfish hang out in. Remember too that if you see water moving around a point or coming out of a creek, drifting a clouser through the current can sometimes produce a flounder.
Route #3 – Oyster Bay
To get to this area, you go all the way to where Bayou Cumbest make its 90 degree turn toward the Sound. You take the first creek on the East side of Bayou Cumbest after the turn, or you don’t turn on Bayou Cumbest and instead paddle a little further and turn into a little bay and follow it out. Getting this creek and following it may be a little disconcerting as it feels like you’re just getting lost. You have to just follow it out, if you reach a dead end, you picked the wrong creek. Once you enter the bay there are many little cuts and creeks to fish. It’s not really named “Oyster Bay”, I couldn’t find a name for it so I named it myself. I chose “Oyster Bay” because my paddle crunches on oysters very often in there and black drum are often found in here (above right). As the wind is usually from the South, this area can take a beating as it open to the Sound. Less protection than Bang’s Lake and behind Bang’s Island.
Route #4 – Point-Aux-Chenes at Bayou Cumbest
This route follows Bayou Cumbest all the way to the Sound. It is also easily accessed from the back of Bang’s Island with a short paddle. The Sound can be windy but this point is a good place to drift clousers in the tide. There is a dropoff that the fish hang out. If you look at the photo of Jim fishing this point above, drawing a line behind him to the Chevron point is where the dropoff occurs. It is usually best on a falling tide. Spanish, jacks, flounder, ladyfish, redfish and trout can all be caught here, but it just depends on the season, the day the tide etc. but I have had some good days here. The flounder, (below, left) was caught where Jim is standing in the photo above. There are Indian middens here, mounds of shell which you can beach your kayak on and walk around, cast and strip or dead drift clousers. Out in front of the western bank of Bayou Cumbest (below right) is the “white trout” hole which is a deep hole about 17 feet deep. There are often gear fisherman staked on this hole so it is easy to find it that way or with a depth finder. I’ve never had any success there but a sinking line with a clouser might do some good.
If it is not windy, you can follow along the edge of the sound, walking the bank looking for reds, or wakes or jerk popping corks. All is good if not much wind. If its windy the point can still be pretty good.
Route #5 – Point-aux-chenes to Mouth of Crooked Bayou, the long program, propulsion suggested
This route is doable with a kayak, but better with a trolling motor or some kind of propulsion. This is my favorite route, but, alas, the wind says whether or not you can fish it. There are grass beds in little cuts against the Sound and if the wind isn’t blowing it out, there could be some redfish hanging out. Also, watch for birds on mud flats, gulls busting on bait.
Route #6 – The Grand Batture Tour, propulsion required
This is the trip I’ve never done. I need some good weather and a couple of trolling motor batteries or a friend with a flats boat. I’ve always wanted to do this run.
I think it’s about 45 minutes to paddle the 1.38 miles of the short program. Of course, if we have a couple of members with jon boats that will give us a tow, we can shorten the travel time considerably.
The date we have chosen is the weekend of April 3-4. Saturday’s tide is predicted to be a negative low tide of -.21 at 4:28 AM. So when we hit the water around 8:00 it will still be low but the current should be moving. I would prefer an outgoing tide but in the spring it just doesn’t happen, typically high tide is in the middle of the day and there’s too much water for sight casting. Out of all the tides, this is what I preferred because it provides skinny water and no tide transition to wait through. It is an incoming tide, but it’s moderate and comes in all day. We should have skinny water unless the wind is up and from the south. Being a moderate tide, the water has a chance of being clear too, unless there’s a strong southerly wind.
I had a similar tide on a trip in May of 2019 and I did pretty well. That trip is written up in this post: https://samuraiflyshop.com/2019/05/08/looking-for-the-goldilocks-zone/
That trip’s tide had more water and if I remember right, I was wishing I had a little less water and it was a light wind day. Choosing the date was based on experience with a similar tide and time of year.
I will provide some more updates as the date approaches.