Louisiana redfish on fly rod beats cold at home

The brutal cold spell of a few weeks ago was the last straw. After years of turning down invitations from my good friend Kevin Morlock to join him on the Louisiana Gulf Coast for a few days of redfish fly fishing, I hopped on a commercial plane for the first time in a year. and headed for New Orleans.

A short drive later, I was watching the sunset sitting on a bay dock eating fresh, roasted oysters.

When friends ask me what “red” fishing is, I tell them it’s like tangling with a small 10 to 30 pound mouth. They fight like freight trains. Fishing takes place around settings that are difficult to explain.

If you’ve never experienced the Gulf of Mexico swamp, you can’t imagine the vastness. They are endless pieces of land scattered in shallow water. Dolphins and porpoises all around you, and there are countless species of birds to watch that you have probably never seen before. But the redfish remains the star of the show.

Of all my friends, Morlock understood life. At least for him. “Know thyself” is an ancient Greek aphorism that remains true to this day. Morlock knows himself. He is by far one of the best fishermen I have ever known. The reason is that he is one of the smartest fishermen I have ever known. He studies the fish and the fisheries where he equips himself. He works to improve these fisheries and these environments. And he dresses where he wants to be, when he wants to be there.

Morlock has guided salmon and rainbow trout anglers on the Pere Marquette River in western Michigan for over 20 years. Over the past decade, he’s made the little-known Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan perhaps the world’s best fly-fishing destination for carp. Today he is making a name for himself as a fly fisherman‘s guide for reds in Louisiana. So he spends the spring and fall in western Michigan, the summer on a remote and picturesque island in the Great Lakes, and the winter in the Gulf of Mexico. It leaves you scratching your head wondering how he did it so well, while the rest of us on the more “normal” path dream of being him.

For connoisseurs, fly fishing is an exciting and stimulating method for catching just about any species of fish. Far too many people think that fly fishing is only for trout in mountainous terrain. It is simply a misconception painted by literary works turned into fictionalized Hollywood productions. The point is, fly fishing is just as productive and fun for bluegill as it is for trout. It’s even more fun when you get tangled up with fighting fish. Nothing that I have ever caught with a fly defends itself as hard as a rockfish.

Once you’ve experienced the redfish in the swamp, it’s hard to imagine not going back every year. Sunrise boat rides pass through narrow passages, camaraderie among fishermen, Cajun culture, and the sound of a howling drag as a rockfish tears the line as you do your best to weather the storm. These are just a few of the reasons why a rockfish trip to the Louisiana Gulf Coast is a good idea. Booking Morlock as a guide is a great idea.

If you want to learn more about Morlock and hear him talk about fishing in his own words, I recently recorded a podcast with him. This is episode 62 of the Driftwood Outdoors podcast, which you can find on all podcasting platforms or at www.driftwoodoutdoors.com. To contact Morlock, search for him on his website, www.indigoguideservice.com.

Meet on the trail. …


Brandon Butler is an outdoor columnist for the News Tribune. Contact him at [email protected]

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