Last Saturday, Ricky Naquin enjoyed a redfish slam in Bay Billiot like he’s never experienced in almost 50 years of fishing out of Pointe Aux Chenes.
The 55-year-old circulation director for Louisiana Publishing had a little extra time on his hands, and despite suspect weather, decided to head out just east of Lake Chien about 3 that afternoon.
“It was an incoming tide with a 25 mph south wind, probably the worst conditions you can get,” Naquin said. “I just hit it right. I made five casts and had five keepers.”
But that was only the beginning of a magical afternoon on the water. Fishing alone, he caught almost 20 redfish that first hour, then noticed a a large group of birds working across the bay.
“I thought it might be specks moving through,” he said. “So I crossed over and went upwind of them and drifted back and put my pole down. On my first cast, I hooked a fish and it was like I could feel the line bumping through fish, and it broke off. I hooked two more and the same thing happened.”
He was rigged up with 15-pound Trilene mono, and was throwing 3-inch black-and-chartreuse and tuxedo H&H cocahoes with a 1/4-ounce jighead.
“So I started throwing to the edges of the school,” Naquin said. “It was literally 180 degrees of redfish boiling 40 or 50 yards from my boat. It was ridiculous, maybe two to 300 redfish, at least.
“The thing that was so crazy about it is I’ve been fishing that area since I could walk and I’m 55 now, so probably 50 years. I have never seen a school of bull redfish in 2 feet of water in my life. I‘ve seen them offshore along the coast, and I’ve caught them in holes where they were grouped up, but these were rolling redfish. It was ridiculous.”
He was the only boat in the area, and he estimated he probably caught 30 fish in the feeding frenzy — all 27 inches plus.
“I don’t think it mattered what you were throwing,” he said. “Every time I reeled one in, there were five or six following it.”
He quickly noticed why the bulls and birds were gathered.
“The crabs must have just hatched not too long before. They had crabs from about three-quarters of an inch to about 2 inches — it looked like polka dots in the water there were so many of them,” Naquin said. “The birds were eating the crabs and the redfish were eating the crabs. The ones I gutted were filled with newly hatched crabs.”
An incoming storm chased him off the water around 6 p.m., but it was a trip Naquin won’t soon forget.
"I ended up leaving them biting. It was a very phenomenal day, and it might never happen again,” he said. “That was a first for me. I’m sure it happens all the time, but that was the first time I’ve ever seen it.
“When I quit fishing, my arms hurt.”