Spoon-fed reds

Sage James Vidos of Thibodaux had the perfect hookset to reel in this big “slot” redfish while fishing in mid-April on the Pointe Aux Chene WMA. He made hundreds of casts with his favorite artificial lure.

Thibodaux’s Vidos says there’s nothing better in the Dulac marsh ponds

A Thibodaux outdoorsman likes to spoon feed redfish in the marsh from Dulac to the Pointe Aux Chenes Wildlife Management Area in Terrebonne Parish.

Here’s an example of why. Recently, one 25-inch long redfish liked the shiny, wobbling breakfast serving, then ate the ½-ounce gold Johnson Silver Minnow Spoon at Pointe Aux Chenes WMA. The fight was on after the sweeping, hard hookset.

And Sage James Vidos was loving every minute of it.

“Got him!” he said on the hookset, excitement in his voice that only fishermen can understand.

Vidos played the redfish on his baitcasting combination in a marshy pond located a few miles from the WMA boat ramp where he had launched from about an hour and a half earlier.

That redfish didn’t surrender easily in a tug of war, not wishing to give up that shiny spoon.

“If I went straight braid, I’d have him in the boat already, cut the time in half,” he said as the give-and-take battle ensued for several minutes.

The solidly hooked redfish ran as often as it could in an almost inevitable losing battle. Vidos leaned on the fish to turn it after each run, all the while cranking it closer to the boat.

That first redfish of the day eventually joined the two anglers in the boat. It was released after a brief photo session.

Vidos, 24, hooked the redfish at about 8:22 a.m., taking advantage of the morning bite. There was no earthshaking bite, he said, adding, “I never felt him. He knocked slack in my line. He hit it so fast I had to reel in slack.”

The setup

A few minutes later, Vidos explained his setup for working the gold spoon, his ultra-confidence bait, one he had locked in his hand at least 90 percent of the time on the water. He ties a 15-pound test fluorocarbon leader to the 30-pound test braid spooled on his Lew’s reel, seated on a 7-foot long H2O fishing rod.

A 17-inch long redfish reluctantly comes to the boat after it ate a gold spoon and felt the steel of a hookset in mid-April. Vidos, who started the bass fishing team at H.L. Bourgeous High School, was fishing the marsh inside the Pointe Aux Chenes WMA.

Following three missed hookups — mostly because the reds barely were bumping the spoon this morning, “as if they were half-interested,” he said — and covering beaucoup miles of shoreline and flats with the trolling motor on high, Vidos was rewarded with a hookup on one of the marsh’s very golden, almost orange, redfish, a 17-incher.

“Got him,” he said again. After a quick fight near the boat, then another catch and release, he said, “He hit it three times before he took it.”

Vidos has fly fished in Wyoming, hunted ducks in Oklahoma, but mostly fishes for bass at cypress tree-lined Reynolds Lake on his grandfather’s property southeast of Alexandria. But he also loves to target redfish in the expansive marsh along the coast below his hometown. His family still enjoys spending time at a camp in Dularge, he said, one that was built by the same grandpa, Stephen Strange.

Vidos’ personal best bass is a 6 ½-pounder he hooked and boated at Lake Bouef, before the grass died and disappeared. His newest love as a bass destination after two phenomenal trips this spring is Toledo Bend.

“I’ve been fishing since I was 6 or 7. I got my first boat when I was 15 years old,” Vidos said, noting he took it out frequently on Pointe Aux Chenes WMA after learning a valuable lesson.

“Somebody told me about fishing back here. I said, ‘There’s no fish back here.’ I went. Well, there are fish back here. I learned it by myself. I can’t tell you how many big, beautiful fish I’ve caught back here,” he added.

This golden redfish had five spots on one side of its body after being caught in mid-March by Sage James Vidos, who was throwing a ½-ounce gold Johnson spoon in one of his favorite fishin’ places in south central Louisiana.

The forage

The H.L. Bourgeois High School graduate, a standout linebacker and backup tight end his senior season, learned the redfish forage base there consists mainly of cocahoe minnows and shrimp with a little mullet on the side.

He also learned where to run and, more importantly, where to avoid running. Caution — and knowledge — are two necessary ingredients.

“Not anybody can come in here with a bass boat. You’ve got to know where the channels are. Just two foot to the left we’d be rubbing bottom,” he said as he idled out of one ultra-shallow pond.

“What’s good about back here, it’s a short boat ride,” he said. “You can leave the launch right there and start fishing. You don’t have to come this far. I just like to get away from everybody else.”

After launching his 17-foot long 2004 Xpress aluminum boat with a 90 horsepower Johnson, Vidos traveled north from the Grand Bayou Boat Launch, then headed east, a boat ride of perhaps three miles as the crow flies and an estimated four miles by boat. While probing the shallow water for cooperative redfish in one of the many spots he fished, the anglers could see the white top of the Pointe Aux Chenes water tower.

The go-to lures

Vidos, who works as a lineman for Entergy, generally sticks with only a few artificial lures.

His go-to artificial lures for redfish are the Johnson gold spoon, an H&H spinnerbait with a gold Colorado blade, a Chatterbait and a Reaction Innovation Little Dipper. The top color for the latter, a soft plastic, is Houdini, with white a distant second.

“Houdini is the favorite color for this water,” he said.

He also confided people can catch all the redfish they want on shrimp under a popping cork, but that isn’t his style.

Occasionally, Vidos changes up and throws something different at the redfish than a gold spoon. A white Lil Dipper soft plastic from Reaction Innovation does the job more often than not when he fishes Pointe Aux Chenes or Dulac.

Sometimes Vidos bites off about ¾ of a white or pink Zoom Super Fluke and puts the last 2 inches of the tail on the Johnson spoon as a soft plastic trailer to enhance the wobble and entice the redfish. Even that adjustment failed to trigger solid bites that morning. The fish had just decided to be finicky.

But good bite or not, he mainly frequents flats with thick grass in ponds and bays. Or else, he makes long tosses along shorelines with 1- to 3-feet of submerged grass extending from them. He keeps his eyes peeled for the bright, golden/orange redfish, particularly along the bank.

“If there’s a fish here, we’ll see him. They reflect off the sun. It just makes them easier to target. That’s what we need. The clouds need to get,” he said, adding the fish weren’t active at all at the moment.

“You have to hit them on the head,” he said.

There’s more to enjoying Pointe Aux Chenes WMA than fishing for redfish and/or sheepshead, of which there are plenty, with a rod and reel.

“They’ve got dams around the impoundment and you catch all the crabs you want,” Vidos said. “Oh, yeah.”

The recreational limit on blue crabs is 12 dozen per person.

However, Vidos will be chasing the redfish. And spoon feeding them when he finds them.

About Don Shoopman 563 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.