A run yesterday across a sloppy Gulf of Mexico from Tiger Pass to Southwest Pass was rewarded with beautiful, clear water. Eddie Permenter, Glenn Young and I — who were in Venice for the annual Marsh Madness media trip — quickly had lines in the water with expectations of quick bites.
We worked the outside of the jetty rocks with Norman DD22s and a variety of Z-Man baits, including ChatterBaits, and over the next few hours we caught 15 to 20 really nice reds. The bite was less than hectic, but there was enough action to keep us interested.
Permenter, who hails from Hattiesburg, Miss., even managed a 2 ½- to 3-pound trout dredging a DD22 at the end of the jetty.
The highlight for Young, national sales manager for Z-Mann Fishing Products who lives in South Carolina, was nailing a jack crevalle after we moved into the inside of the pass.
The majority of fish came working lures very close to rocks, allowing the lures to tick off the hard structure. Most bites came within a few feet of the visible rocks.
But the biggest payoff of the day came when we decided to head back to Tiger Pass.
As we idled away from the rocks, Permenter spotted some birds working in the open water several hundred yards from the mouth of the pass, and suggested giving it a look.
We found dozens of dead fish floating — obvious bycatch from shrimping boats. A few casts produced nothing but a close call with a pod of jacks.
Moving to a second group of birds, which also were working to pick up dead croakers in the shrimpers’ chum line, resulted in a knock-down for Young.
“Jack,” I predicted as line screamed off his reel.
What I was thinking was, “Great: We’re going to be chasing that stupid jack for the next 45 minutes.”
And then I looked off the starboard side of the boat, and my knees went week. Dozens of bull reds were cruising just below the surface, sucking in the offerings of the bycatch.
In seconds, the water surrounding the boat turned red, and we were in hysterics. Young was hooting about the herd of redfish, while Permenter and I snatched rods out of the holders.
As soon as the DieZel MinnowZ tied to the terminal end of my line broke the surface of the water it disappeared in a bronze swirl. Permenter’s lure was swallowed seconds later.
Click here to get an idea of what it looked like around the boat.
Young and I danced around each other in the back of the boat as our bulls continued stripping line. Permenter battled his red from the front deck, eventually snapping his rod.
All the while, packs of redfish passed in and out of sight — and every time we worked a fish to within sight, dozens of fish were bought in tow, many trying to get the lure out of the hooked fish’s mouth.
I finally broke off, grabbed my second rod to get another instant hook-up. Only to break off again.
Permenter and Young landed their fish, and they were big, beefy specimens.
A second boat eased into casting distance on the other side of the school, and all three anglers in the boat hooked up.
By the time we took photos and retied, the school had disappeared. While we were unable to track down the reds again, watching the hundreds of reds schooling around us was the perfect end to the day.