Four League Bay’s sight-fishing for reds is great in July

For fishermen who enjoy the thrill of the hookset and the zing of fishing line attached to a heavy, runaway redfish, there’s a great place for them to satisfy the buzz.

No one knows that more than Bradley Matte, a 30-year-old Morgan City outdoorsman who has been doing that since he was a boy fishing with his father. And there’s no time like July to hook redfish after redfish along the lower end of Four League Bay, including the Oyster Bayou area.

Matte is excited when he talks about the midsummer opportunity that awaits anglers southeast of the mouth of the Atchafalaya River. He puts redfish in the boat searching with his favorite spinnerbait or a soft-plastic bait under a popping cork.

Bradley Matte of Morgan City hefts a bull red he caught in the Morgan City area.

Targeting redfish along leeward shoreline of the immense bay is the best bet, he said, noting that if the wind’s blowing out of the east, he gets on the east side, generally from Big Carencro Bayou to Blue Hammock Bayou, and if the wind’s out of the west, he fishes the west side in the around Mosquito Bayou.

“At that time, when the (Atchafalaya) river starts falling, I find fish ganging up on the banks of the bay from about enough water to just cover their back to 3 feet, depending on the day and tides and water level,” he said, adding he favors the skinny water and targets those reds with a spinnerbait.

“I’m a shallow-water fisherman,” he said. “I like to sight-fish for them. I call it pushing wakes, sometimes going down the banks, sometimes around cuts and points, any little difference along the way. Sometimes when I think I’m in an area where there are multiple fish, I Power Pole or anchor. I’ll fish a little slower with a popping cork.”

Matte, who competes on the Elite Redfish Series and the IFA Redfish Tour as well as local tournaments, has a tower on the bow of his boat so he can sight-fish. His go-to lure is a spinnerbait he rigs with an H&H blade and a, 1/8- or 1/4-ounce Deathgrip jighead. He adds a 3- or 4-inch Slayer paddletail as a trailer, most of the time with contrasting colors: dark on top and light on the belly. His favorite is Houdini.

“I fish with a spinnerbait mostly,” he said, who also uses a shrimp-colored Gulp about 18 inches or less under the popping cork when he finds an area that might have plenty of reds.

“I really prefer fluorocarbon for the spinnerbait for a couple of reasons,” he said, noting that fluorocarbon sinks, and he wants to keep the spinnerbait “on the bottom where the redfish’s eyes are.”

Bradley Matte catches redfish like this around Four League Bay, which is southeast of the mouth of the Atchafalaya River.

He fishes with a fast-action, medium-heavy 7-foot-3 Dobyns rod with a Lew’s baitcasting reel.

Matte said an outgoing tide definitely is the best, but, in the same breath, said, “Fishing can be really good on an incoming tide.

“On an outgoing tide, I spend a lot of time on ditches and drains that flow into the bay,” he said. “On an incoming tide, they tend to move around a little more. I troll a little faster and cover more water. It still can be good fishing.”

Many of the redfish he catches in the area average 24 inches, sometimes with a fair share of rat reds. He can see bigger redfish, including bull reds, in the shallows, which makes it so much more enjoyable to set the hook and listen to the line zing.

Don Shoopman
About Don Shoopman 358 Articles
Don Shoopman fishes for freshwater and saltwater species mostly in and around the Atchafalaya Basin and Vermilion Bay. He moved to the Sportsman’s Paradise in 1976, and he and his wife June live in New Iberia. They have two grown sons.

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