Bob Bateman said fishing the Leeville area is no big mystery.
“If you want to catch redfish, talk to the local marina operators,” Bateman said. “They will direct you to the general area that is best at the time. After that, it is trial and error. Try to find moving water and fish points, cuts into the marsh and run-outs from the marsh.
“Don’t be afraid to throw. I’ve caught fish in little potholes in the marsh and had to pull them through the grass into the boat. That’s when using braided line is an advantage. If it looks firm enough, I sometimes will get out of the boat to fish little holes. Course, you can’t do that everywhere. Recently, my son Barrett got out of the boat to get a fish out of the grass and went to his waist. We got him back, but not the fish.”
His choice of baits is simple. He loves live bait — mostly cocahoe minnows — but if he expects to chase speckled trout he will readily buy shrimp. Live bait is always fished under a cork; he doesn’t like to bottom fish.
A rod is always kept handy rigged with a blue moon-colored plastic cocahoe minnow under an oval popping cork.
“Of course,” he added, “I can always put a bit of shrimp on the hook to sweeten it for redfish and throw it to the bank instead of in open water.”
He retrieves the plastic with sharp twitches.
Redfish are his specialty.
Besides live cocahoes under scoop-faced corks, Bateman uses a variety of artificial lures. A favorite for the area is an H&H Redfish Spinner, a safety pin-type lure — although he admitted that anything with a gold blade will work. These he mostly uses when fishing is slow and the water is stained. He works up the bank, casting the lure like he is fishing for bass.
Gold spoons are also in his inventory and receive most use in the spring. Their plus is that they are more weedless than a safety pin spinner.
And he always keeps on hand MirrOlure Top Dogs or She Dogs. He uses these when redfish come to the surface and bump his fishing corks.
Many of the redfish Bateman catches don’t come on blind casts. Rather, he watches for signs of the fishes’ presence: marsh grass moving because of fish movement, baitfish jumping near grassy edges, glimpses of a fin above the surface (which he explains is usually their dorsal fin rather than their tail fin), and muddy spots swirled up by tail fin movement.
“It is easy to spook them in shallow water,” he cautioned. “You have to throw far enough ahead of them so that you don’t scare them. I have also caught them when I see a school of minnows moving down the bank. Throw behind them, not ahead of them, to catch the red that is pushing them down the bank.
“The biggest mistake people make fishing redfish is noise — dropping hatches, dropping things in the boat, probably because the water is so shallow and you are so close to the fish.
“Another mistake is using monofilament in the marsh. Oyster shells cut mono line, and it stretches. You can’t cast as far with braided line as with mono, but you adapt. My buddy Ray Magee convinced me to use braid. With mono, sometimes I would set the hook and there would be nothing. The line had sagged to the oyster shells on the shallow bottom.”
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