The Red Line

These spots offer the surest action for anglers targeting redfish near the mouth of the Mississippi.

Raphael Pass was gorgeous as Ron Price’s boat sliced through the emerald-green water and into Joe Brown Pass.

Canes slapped the side of the boat as it streaked along, and a swirl that turned into a large wake in a pocket along the bank testified to the presence of redfish.

But Price didn’t even slow down.

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to catch redfish. In fact, the goal of this trip was to put the hard-fighting drum in the boat.

But Price knew his odds were better elsewhere.

“Historically, you want to fish outside for the mass number of fish,” he said as the boat slid back into Raphael.

Minutes later, the mouth of the pass came into view, and Price eased off the throttle.

“I like to get off these minor passes,” he said. “A lot of times, when you get just outside the current, you’ll see the rainbow minnows flipping.”

After only a few minutes, however, it was evident the bait simply wasn’t at the mouth of this pass.

Price reeled in, cranked his four-stroke and headed farther south.

He ducked in and out of the shallows, looking along the rouseau cane-lined banks.

Price wasn’t looking for any particular geographical feature, though.

“I like to run the bank looking for reds moving and bait,” he said.

That’s the MO for the owner of Fish Intimidator Pro Guide Service.

If he doesn’t see bait flicking or reds waking and swirling — preferably both — Price simply moves on.

“You want a concentration of bait, and you want to see something really pushing them,” he said. “I like to see a good blow-up.”

Finally, after darting in and out of coves and crossing Pass a Loutre, Price found rafts of mullet mixed with rainbow minnows in Blind Bay.

Although he hadn’t seen an attacking redfish, he put down his trolling motor and worked toward a point around which the incoming tide was pouring.

The point was loaded with bait.

“I like to see a current line that’s holding bait,” Price explained. “Even if the bait’s not getting hit, the fish are usually there.”

Out in the open water, swarms of jack crevalle were slamming bait.

Price went to work picking the point to pieces.

“I cast as far into those little pockets (in the canes) as I can,” he said.

But he didn’t pull too close to the shoreline.

“There will be cane stubble that comes quite a ways out,” he said. “Fish will hold in that.”

Therefore, Price keeps his boat positioned so that he can just reach into the divots in the cane, and then works his lure all the way back to the boat.

“Sometimes they’re out in that stubble; sometimes they’re in tight,” he explained.

Price’s bait of choice has become the Mann’s Mid-1 Minus, which runs to a depth of about a foot.

“What I like about these baits is that they don’t get down in the cane (stubble) like a spinnerbait does,” he said. “You can just pull them right over those submerged canes out here without getting hung up.”

If his lure bumps a stick-up, Price simply rolls the lure over the obstruction — and that adds to the action of the lure, driving fish nuts.

The first pass around the point produced nothing, but on the second swing around the projection of canes, Price’s crankbait got slammed.

“That’s right where you would expect one to be,” he said, as he battled the 12-pound red to the net.

All day, Price was lurking along the edges of the marsh. He ducked into a pond here or there, but never stayed very long.

That might be counter-intuitive to many redfish anglers, who by nature love to hook line-stripping fish in these openings in the canes.

But Price said summer redfishing is simply best where the Gulf meets the Venice marshes.

“I just don’t do a lot of pond fishing because there are so many more fish out here,” he said.

The magic line for Price stretches from about Dead Women Pass down to Blind Bay.

The best conditions are when the water cleans up and the wind has a westerly bent.

“It really pushes the water out of here, and the water coming out of the canes is beautiful,” Price said. “When you get that prettier, cleaner water up next to the canes, you have better luck.”

The importance of moving water cannot be overstated, especially with the river being such a dominant force in the Venice area.

“When there’s not a lot of movement, that fresh, stained (river) water will settle and sit on top (of the salt water),” Price said. “It might be pretty under the fresh water, but I find that when that fresh water is sitting on top like that, the bait gets down deep, and the fishing is harder.”

Whenever working a stretch of shoreline, Price doesn’t just put down his trolling motor and begin fishing.

“I focus on the points first,” he said. “The fish will hang out there waiting for bait to wash past.”

Once he’s worked the points, he might move farther back into the marsh, depending on the conditions.

Price normally includes the small bays like Dead Women Bend, Bucket Bend and Customhouse Bay in his route, but one that doesn’t make the list is Bull Bay between Raphael Pass and Pass A Loutre.

“I’ve never messed with it because it doesn’t get a lot of current,” he explained. “I just think the water looks stagnant in there most of the time.”

Around Twentyseven and Hingle passes, he mimics his performance illustrated at the mouth of Raphael — he works the shallows right outside of the current, where bait will congregate.

As he moves south, there’s one spot that almost never fails to produce fish if there isn’t too much wind.

“There’s a sandbar that stretches across the mouth of Pass A Loutre,” Price said.

The bar is massive, but Price said there is no real reason to fish the entire bar.

“I just fish the ends of the bar,” he said. “They get all out on the outside (of the bar), but, by far, I find they get on the ends better.”

That’s because these underwater features are where they find the largest concentrations of food.

“The currents come across those points, and the bait gets ganged up,” he said.

In Blind Bay, Price continues working the edges of the marsh, fishing from the points back to the edges of the coves.

But the bay is huge, and an angler could literally spend most of the day in this one area.

However, Price narrows down his options quickly.

“I always shoot for the lee shore,” he said. “You want that clean water, and it’ll be pushing out on the lee side.”

The area gets even smaller when Price makes a run along the lee shoreline looking for bait and moving fish. Those stretches that are devoid of activity are simply disregarded.

There are a few exceptions to the rule of betting on the outer edge of the marshes.

“Delta Duck is kind of unique,” Price said. “You want to get back in the ponds, and fish those areas.”

Reds will be tucked into the ponds, looking for feed around the grass beds.

“They’ll be in that grass if the water’s clean,” Price said.

Delta Bend and Bienvenue Inside Pond on either side of Gaspar Bayou, which runs off of Octave Pass, are prime targets. So are Horseshoe and Joe Brown ponds north of Raphael Pass.

But Price said they aren’t the only ones. The secret is to look for the correct conditions.

“If you can find a pond that will hold clean water, definitely add that to your hot-spot list,” he said.

And knowing a few ponds that consistently hold clean water is sometimes critical to the ability to fill limits.

“Smaller reds will be caught in these ponds, and the bigger fish will be outside on the edges of the marsh,” Price said. “You’re getting to that time of year when you have a tough time catching your limits (on the outside) because the fish are so big.”

Unfortunately, vegetation becomes a real issue, but for a while there’s a solution.

“When it starts to get thick, you can fish a weedless spoon,” he said.

However, Price warned that a major key to success will be moving around.

“You can pick and pick and pick in there, and you can do some good sight fishing,” he said. “But you’re not going to have those 100-fish days.

“You’re usually not going to catch 100 fish in the ponds, but you’ll catch 20 to 30.”

Inevitably, the very thing that attracts redfish eventually makes an angler’s task impossible.

“The grass can get very thick,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t get in those ponds because of that.”

As the vegetation becomes less and less penetrable, Price said reds can be picked off by working the edges of the mats.

“If the water is clean coming out of the grass, the fish will hang right on the outside of it,” he said.

The preference would still be to find fish on the outside because of the sheer numbers, however.

“If you find the right spot on the outside, you can anchor and catch all the redfish you want,” he said.

As the summer ages and the river bottoms out, redfish also begin moving into the passes on the east side of the river.

Main, Octave, Brant, Raphael and Flatboat passes, along with Pass A Loutre, fill with reds prowling the edges of the current in search of bait.

But Price said he has a favorite.

“By far, Main Pass is better,” he said. “I find that it stays cleaner than the other ones.”

And that clean water is the key, no matter which pass is fished.

Pass A Loutre proves that, since it is often the last to clear up and the last to attract numbers of reds.

“You’ve got to have the right water for the fish to get in Pass A Loutre,” Price said.

Once the water cleans up, catching fish is pretty simple.

“I troll along, fishing cuts and bare sand banks,” he said. “The fish will be prowling along those banks, looking for bait.”

This is an excellent option when the winds kick up, making it difficult to stay on the outside edge of the marsh.

“A lot of times, it’s too windy to fish the outside,” Price said. “That’s when I duck into the passes.”

But as summer ages toward fall and the water really gets clean in the passes because the river levels have stopped bumping up and down, Price said he’s forced to fish more and more in these main routes.

“Once they can get in the passes, they really get in there,” he said. “It gets harder to catch them on the outside.”

Capt. Ron Price can be reached at (504) 416-6731.

About Andy Crawford 863 Articles
Andy Crawford has spent nearly his entire career writing about and photographing Louisiana’s hunting and fishing community. While he has written for national publications, even spending four years as a senior writer for B.A.S.S., Crawford never strayed far from the pages of Louisiana Sportsman. Learn more about his work at www.AndyCrawford.Photography.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply