Right now, grass is like a combination of Red Bull, bacon, Twinkies and ice cream for redfish — they simply can’t stay away from it.
The redfishing has been off the chain in the marshes off the Intracoastal Waterway between Chalmette and Chef Pass, according to Gabe Minnich — if you can find the vegetation.
“It’s a nursery for all the little fish in the ecosystem,” he said. “Everything congregates around the grass. Nine times out of 10, if you can find the grass, you can find the bait, and if you can find the bait, you can find the fish.”
With the summer heat and influx of freshwater, the grass in the backs of the ponds has been very thick, according to Minnich, who launches out of South Shore Bait and Marina. Too much of a good thing can be bad, so he’s been fishing where there’s not tons of grass.
“I spend most of my time where the main bayou feeds into the pond,” he said. “It’s so choked off with grass in some (ponds) I feel I’m doing more harm than good. I stay out in front and catch them coming in and out.”
Most sight-fishing gurus chuck a soft-plastic on a jighead or weedless swimbait hook. However, Minnich has discovered something far superior.
“Right now, because they’ve been eating crabs, I’m using Vudu shrimp,” he said.
Using a shrimp lure to imitate a crab might sound contradictory, but Minnich said the forage you mimic is all in how you work the lure.
“The way I fish it, it can either be a fish, or I can bounce it and jig it on the grass, and it’ll look like a crustacean,” he said.
When Egret Baits’ Vudu shrimp first came out, the company used a thinner wire hook ideal for speckled trout, but if a redfish got hold of the bait, the hook would come back straighter than a broomstick.
Since then, the company has made some changes and beefed up the hook diameter. Now, Minnich said, he’s had no problems with the hook bending out.
“The hook is pretty sturdy,” he said. “I’ve had the same one on there for the past month, and I’ve gotten 60 fish on one hook.”
Minnich said the water clarity hasn’t been the best, so he’s been using the black/chartreuse colored Vudu.
The size of the redfish has been impressive, Minnich said, particularly for tournament anglers.
“I’m seeing a lot of big, fat, beefy redfish,” he said. “None of them are skinny at all. I’m catching 28-inch fish (that weigh) 12 pounds.”