“Paddlin’ the Pass” Mothership Trip E-mail
Friday, 23 October 2009 06:16

Marsh Island is a popular recreational fishing, shrimping and crabbing location. It’s an important destination and sanctuary for waterfowl and other inhabitants including alligators, fisheries, and furbearers. The Wildlife Refuge is owned and managed by the State of Louisiana , located between Vermilion Bay and the Gulf of Mexico . The State claims the island encompasses about 70,000 acres. The refuge is composed of brackish marsh, essentially treeless and flat. Most locals fish the major tributaries, lakes and weirs reachable by power boat. Consequently there are many little-explored and less fished bayous and marshes within the Island . Power boats simply cannot get to them - bad for big boats, good for kayaker anglers. 

landing a fish

Our day starts out one of the member’s storage shed at 5:30 a.m. We have the mother ship-loading just about down pat by now. Digressing, we have had plenty of experience all winter during duck season. Those were some good trips. We essentially had the bay and Island to ourselves as most fishermen are out hunting that time of year which is completely fine by us. We take advantage of the opportunity for fewer boats and winter “Cajun Sleigh Rides”. Continuing, all 4 of us drive up to the storage shed, Robert pulls out his deep-v 19’ boat and we all unload our equipment from our vehicles. First we load each ice chest on the front deck, then, 1-by-1, 4 kayaks slide in and stacked. 2 lay on the floor on each side of the center console. The other 2 on top of those, lying atop temporary 2x4’s straddled across the gunnels rails. Strap them down real tight, rods and anchor poles in the back and we’re rolling on down to Intracoastal City . 

Perfect timing, we launch the boat and we all hop in for a beautiful run through Vermilion Bay right at dawn. As we depart Intracoastal City I can’t help but notice how we still have the place to ourselves in March. I am giddy knowing we’ll have the Island to ourselves again.

It’s about 12 miles or so to Southwest Pass (Fig 1). A natural deep pass that sees lots of boat traffic daily. Mainly from the oil and gas industries barges and crew boats. As any local fisherman knows these boats dole out a MAJOR wake when they are running wide open and they don’t always slow down for the little guys. They’ll swamp out most rec boats and most certainly cause problem for us in paddle craft. Luckily most of the pass is full of exposed oyster reefs along the channel and throughout to break the wave action. 

Map

Today we’ve decided to anchor the mother ship on the east side of the pass. We find ourselves some deep enough water on the backside of a big reef and throw out the anchor. Drop all the kayaks in and we’re paddling off into Marsh Island . Oh and don’t forget the Victoria Secret Amber Romance. We are going to need it to ward off the gnats. Well, maybe for 20 minutes or so. 

map

There are so many nice things that this area offers. It has plenty of current with the pass being so close. Oyster reefs right next to the pass and all the channel fingers between the reefs offer excellent opportunities for Speckled Trout, Reds, Flounder and Black Drum. The entire shoreline of Marsh Island also offers great scouting for tailing redfish. Drum and flounder can be caught here too. The backside of the reefs keeps the bigger boats out. Most areas on the backside of the reefs (Fig 2) are less than a foot deep. Our “honey hole” requires a long paddle through water that is almost always less than 12” of water, then the area we fish drops to 6-8’. It’s easy fishing once there. Muddy bottom throughout and basically nothing to get your bait hung on. Big redfish scoot all throughout these bayous, not to mention huge alligator and garfish. Which reminds me of one trip when a member was fighting a 4’ garfish. The fish jumped into his lap where it sat for several seconds, jumped back in the water, came unhooked, and then a 27” redfish came by and decided it was hungry for the same bait. The fight continued… 

I speculate most of these reds have never seen a fishing lure. At any rate, that’s what I’m going to believe. We’ve found they eat just about anything that resembles fish and shrimp but they have been super angry towards the Tsunami Swim Baits, tight-lined right on the bottom and as slow as you can reel it. Any of the Gulp Baits worked tight-lined or under a popping cork. This particular day we found ourselves having to work really hard to catch fish. But the ones that we did catch were some monsters out of our kayak. All 11 of our redfish this day were between 20-27”. We’ve have several trips here where we caught redfish in the 25-30” range. We didn’t “limit out” today but who’s counting anyway? We all got good workouts from paddling and fighting big redfish. 

trip

Marsh Island is just an unbelievable place full of wildlife and opportunities to really get on some nice reds out of your kayak. I urge anyone interested in kayak fishing to look into our club or a local club in your area. Come out on a kayak angling adventure with us. You can find us at www.lafayettekayakfishing.com

Greg Sonnier is a founding member and President of the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club
Email Greg at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

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