It’s the piscatorial equivalent of Mardi Gras. Whenever Jack Frost decides to leave his polar lair and vacation in the deep south, redfish stack up in deep-water canals and bayous all over the Louisiana coast.
One of those waterways runs between the coastal towns of Shell Beach and Hopedale, and roads line either side of the bayou, providing bank-bound anglers with the opportunity to catch their limits of redfish. It’s a festive atmosphere that’s reminiscent of Fat Tuesday, as happy anglers crowd the roads like revelers on the neutral ground during Rex.
Referred to locally as the redfish jubilee, this year’s event just so happened to occur on Mardi Gras day, and since most area parades were canceled due to Covid lockdowns, anglers showed up in droves.
My son, Joel, his buddy Donny Steilberg and my buddy Dan McNeil were in that mix, holding our fishing rods with fingers that would hardly cooperate due to the 25-degree air. Every few casts, we had to dip our rod tips in the water to melt the ice that would form in the guides.
The fishing wasn’t quite as good as I’ve seen at previous jubilees, but we still pulled some reds up onto the bank of the bayou. As a land-based angler, you can’t really hope for much more than that. It’s always a festive, surreal experience.
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