Redfish: Incredible Year-Round Action

Eric Muhoberac is a fishing guide on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, where Jean Lafitte once plied his pirate’s trade.

It’s a place where the Great Depression went unnoticed. People lived off the land by catching fish, shrimp and crabs, harvesting oysters and eating fresh vegetables they grew themselves. They still do.

French, Creole and Yugoslavian cultures exist side by side as they have for centuries.

Ted Takasaki
Ted Takasaki

For Muhoberac, it’s redfish country. He’s chased them for over 30 years — since he was 5 when his grandfather was an oyster fisherman. Redfish swim amid the alligators with blue herons, pelicans and the endangered Rosetta spoonbill flying overhead.

A Pleasant Addiction

Muhoberac calls Louisiana redfish some of the best fishing in the world.

“It’s an addiction. You probably won’t fish freshwater again,” said Muhoberac, who operates Louisiana Paradise Charters and Tours. “The closest I can describe it is that it’s like bass fishing with a lot more ‘umph.'”

The best thing is the season is year round.

He catches 5-pounders to 10-pounders 12 months of the year “inside” in marshes and duck ponds off the main channel of the Mississippi River. Fish 16 inches to 21 inches are the “best eaters,” he said.

But, the biggest redfish, the ones topping 40 pounds and 50 pounds and more, are caught from mid-July to September. The state record is 62 pounds.

Muhoberac’s fishes up close and personal. They can be as shallow as 1-foot deep, and he even caught one 46 pounds in 2 feet of water!

“A lot of this is sight fishing. You toss your lure and see them turn and eat it. It’s incredible,” he said.

Ravages Lures

They’re so close you can hear the bigger redfish ravage your lure with the “crushers” they have in the back of their throat to munch crabs.

In cold water below 50 degrees, Muhoberac focuses on holes from 3 feet to 10-feet-deep adjacent to concrete structures built to protect oil rigs and pipes. He and clients have caught 150- to 200 fish out of a single hole 30 feet by 30 feet!

Fish are sluggish at that time of year, and slow presentations are best.

He uses a 1/4-ounce jig head and Old BaySide plastic baits such as the Skeleton Shad, the Mud-Mino and the Shrimp. Cast it out and slowly retrieve it by bouncing or dragging it on the bottom.

Experiment With Lures

He uses 8- to 15-pound-test line and 6 1/2- to 7-foot rods.

He also moves into duck ponds by using a trolling motor to maneuver around the small grassy areas. Other anglers choose to use poling stands. Friends of his will get a limit of ducks and then break out the fishing gear to take home redfish for the banquet.

He says he looks for hard-bottom areas created by oyster shells, or advises to fish weed edges. If you don’t see the fish, cast to points, turns, and weed beds.

As fish become more active, he’ll sometimes swim the Skeleton Shad or switch to a topwater lure similar to a Zara Spook.

“They come up, and you’ll have a violent strike … an explosion,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Live bait rigs, called “popping corks,” work, too. They consist of a cork with a wire through it, a sliding sinker and a place to tie on 2-feet of fishing line to a 3/0 or 4/0 circle hook. Best baits are minnows or shrimp. Cast, let them sit, pop them, let them sit some more.

As spawning time arrives, Muhoberac migrates out into the Gulf of Mexico to places with names such as the Barrier Islands and Grand Bayou Pass.

The bottom there is mostly sandy, and redfish are in 8- to 12-feet of water — and that’s giant fish of 40 pounds and more.

He steps up to 15- to 30-pound-test line, fluorocarbon leaders and a Carolina rig. The leader is 30 pounds. The hook is a 5/0 circle hook to lessen damage to the trophies. Bait is live or cut mullet, live or cracked crab, and Atlantic croaker of 3- to 4 inches.

Anchoring Technique

His technique is to anchor right where the sand bar drops into the deeper water. Cast, put the rod in the rod holder and wait for the clicker on the reel to sound. Set the hook and hold on. Fights can last 10 minutes to 30 minutes.

As August turns to September and cold fronts begin to stir the Gulf of Mexico, it’s time to begin moving closer to the mainland and fish places such as Barataria Bay.

Eventually, he moves back “inside” and concentrates on the mid-sized fish with an occasional bull redfish mixed in until it’s time for the spawning cycle to begin again.

Muhoberac encourages clients to take pictures and measurements of the big fish, release them and have a replica made.

“If you aren’t going to eat it, why take it? In 10 more years, it (releasing them) could make a difference.”

There’s bonus fish to be caught, too. The drum, a cousin of the redfish, reaches mammoth sizes. Muhoberac has a 60-pounder to his credit. Flounder, sheephead, speckled trout, black-tipped shark reaching 5 feet long, and Spanish mackerel all add to the mix. But, those are other stories.

For more information, contact Muhoberac at 985-564-3474 or visit www.louisianaparadise.com

Stay up-to-date with expert tips on Guide Outdoors and don’t forget to visit Sportsman’s Guide for the latest selection of fishing gear.

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