No passport, No gear…. No problem.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been on a mission to hook and land a trophy redfish on the fly. After several failed attempts over the years due to unfortunate luck with the weather, I found myself on the bow of a Louisiana flats skiff one more time.
Our most recent hosted trip took us to the western edge of the Louisiana delta. It’s hard to imagine that just an hour and a half ride from the birth place of Marti Gras lives the the largest and most aggressive redfish on the planet.
Our host this time around was Eleven Angling and their mothership, OUTPOST. Eleven, known for amazing destinations around the world has fine tuned the definition of “customer service “.
Captain Chris, First Mate Amber, Chef Dave, and of course our amazing guides Paul and Jerry, went above and beyond to make the fishing a secondary bonus. Collectively they left no stone unturned to make it one of the best experiences we’ve had in over ten years of hosting trips.
OUTPOST is a 61′ Hatteras mothership made for one thing, hosting anglers on a mission to land the biggest tarpon (Florida) and redfish on the planet.
Each of the four of us had our own comfy private room and shared bath. There’s two bedrooms downstairs and two on the main floor. More importantly, both options are just steps away from the bar/dining room/kitchen/common area.
Every morning and evening my guests and I, along with the OUTPOST crew, would convene on the main floor to chat, dine, share the refreshments of a fully stocked bar and tell a fish story or two.
However, the highlight was getting a front row seat to Chef Dave preparing his one of a kind gourmet dishes. He’s truly a master at his craft.
Unfortunately, my recollection of the names of the dishes won’t do them any justice. My favorites from the menu included filet mignon, fresh salmon with Cajun flair, his award winning gumbo and Crawfish Etouffee.
Dessert options included crème brulee and fresh chocolate hot lava cake. Lunches were dishes along the lines of shrimp/crab and bacon wraps, Asian salads and homemade Cuban sandwiches. Are you drooling yet?
All that said, this was a fishing trip after all.
Our daily guides were Paul and Jerry, life long saltwater anglers with a remarkable passion for fishing this region. So much so they both leave the comfort of their own homes in Florida for the season, and obsess over putting clients on their fish of a lifetime in the marsh.
When it comes to fishing the LA delta, there’s no way to sugar coat it. The weather matters, a lot. It’s common for the weather Gods to throw you some curveballs throughout your stay. Wind, lack of sunlight and rain are all possibilities during the prime season of Oct-Dec. Our four days were a mixed bag of awful, average and amazing.
When chasing bull reds it’s not uncommon for your shots to be 25′ or less. Seems easy enough, right? Looks can be deceiving. With stained water, sometimes it’s nearly impossible to see these fish until they are at your rod tip. By then it’s usually too late.
However, when fish are cruising or ‘floating’ they are off the bottom and the game changes. These fish can be seen from as far out as 10-50′ depending on conditions. On average, these fish are much more aggressive too.
I’m not saying the fish in the bottom won’t eat, however spooking fish “you never saw” utill a cloud of mud erupted boatside is a common occurrence.
As far as gear goes, we pretty much fished 9 wts the entire time with a normal WF floating line.
Leaders were 6′ long, typically made of 4 feet of 50lb, 1 foot of 40lb to 1 foot of 30lb. Easy.
With Eleven, all gear and other necessities are provided for making the logistics incredibly convenient. You don’t need to bring anything except your clothes and personal belongings.
If you’re a gearhead, like me, bring your own rods and use the guides flies and leaders. Simple.
I could easily see a wide range of skill levels enjoying this trip. Although our group was on a mission to chase the “bulls” that made this place famous, there’s a number of areas with smaller, 10-15 lb fish (still huge!). The guides told stories of countless shots and “suicide fish” recklessly attacking flies.
All in all our group landed bull reds everyday from 17-31 lbs, and a few “slot” fish in the 12-15 lb range. Almost all fish were on fly. There were a few exceptions when the weather got bad and we flipped over to gear rods. A really nice back up plan if the weather throws you a massive curveball.
Other species included black drum from 18-25 lbs and a Sheepshead I was finally able to fool on the last day. Both being super fun species to cast at throughout the day.
If you can’t tell by now this really was an incredible trip right down to the last detail. The entire crew at Eleven Angling was a class act and has their routine as dialed as any.
We’re already making plans to head back.
Don’t miss out, drop us note here if you’re interested firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’d love to be your host next time around!
And a special thanks to our guides Jerry and Paul. Thanks for taking great care of my guys. We all had an amazing time on the water with you and are looking forward to round two!
All images provided by Toby and Gabe Mellows, Jose Rubio, Capt. Jerry Perez, Capt. Paul Ray and Matt Heron Fly Fishing