Driving two and a half hours from Patterson to get in on the action that could be over by the time my wife and I got there was a risk I wasn't sure would be worth the effort, so I called Campo on Friday morning (Feb. 4).
"John, I'm telling you, you need to get down here," Campo said. "I just got back from up the road, and poles were bent over with reds on. Everyone is catching."
I told him I didn't want to tow my boat down, and then asked what was needed for a successful bank-fishing excursion.
"All you need is a ¼-ounce jighead and some dead shrimp," Campo said. "Come see me, pick up some shrimp and I'll show you right where to go. It's so easy, I'm telling you, a caveman can do it."
At 7 a.m., we drove along Yscloskey Highway, where people were already lining the banks, with their poles bent over hauling in redfish, just as Campo said.
Campo's dad, Frank Campo, handed us a box of shrimp and said there was no need to tell us where to go: Just follow the parade.
Indeed it was like a parade; a Mardi Gras parade and atmosphere, with red drum hollering from the depths of the bayou, "Throw me something Mister!"
Click here to see other photos showing how frenetic the fishing has been during cold-weather redfish runs in Shell Beach.
According to Campo, it has only been the past couple of winters that this particular redfish bite in Yscloskey Bayou has occurred. Moreover, some of it could be attributed to the blocking off the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.
"Let me say this: They may have been in there the past 20-years," Campo said. "Nobody ever fished them – nobody knew.
"But, since they blocked off the MRGO last winter was the first time they ran like that. I think it started around Christmas, and it was cold."
It didn't take long for word to get out.
"Judge Fernadez's grandkids were down – they were fishing off his dock and they started catching a few redfish," Campo said. "All of a sudden people seen it – you know what I mean – word of mouth got out, and they started fishing further and further and further up the bayou from Fishing Magician Charters to the bridge."
Deep water is apparently the key to this particular winter redfish run. The winter cold fronts create low-water conditions in the marsh, where the shallow water becomes frigid, says Campo. The combination of low water and cold water causes the reds to seek warmer water in the depths of the bayou.
"Where they've been catching them is deep – probably 12 or 14 feet deep – I guess," Campo said. "And, they're in that warmer water on the bottom. They've been in there the last two years, and every time it gets really cold and the water temperature gets in the 40s – low 40s – fish are going to be in that bayou."
As of Sunday (Feb. 6), the bite had slowed considerably, with larger fish moving out into the ponds, leaving mainly rat reds for anglers. But, with another frigid cold front pushing in at this writing, Campo says the bite just might be on again.
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