The Mississippi River has been camped out below 4 feet at New Orleans’ Carrollton gauge for the last two weeks, and that’s allowed it to get green and clean down near its mouth.
“We fished the drains in South Pass a couple of weeks ago, and caught them everywhere,” he said. “We went back the next day, and didn’t catch a fish. The redfish were on the move, pushing up into the river.”
They’ve since arrived, and Bardwell has been catching them in Baptiste Collette, Southeast Pass, Pass a Loutre, the spillway off Southwest Pass and in the main river itself. The rocks near the fire tower just north of Main Pass have been particularly productive.
Bardwell hasn’t yet fished the West Bay Diversion, but he said it’s full of boats every day, so he suspects the reds are in there as well.
Filling up a box right now requires a trolling motor or lots of weighing anchor, Bardwell said.
“They’re just not stacked up yet to where you can get on one point and limit out,” he said.
That will change, Bardwell said, as soon as a cool front or two pushes through the area. That may happen before very long. Fox 8 meteorologist Bob Breck said Monday night the continental weather patterns are changing, and that should get some cooler weather to South Louisiana in about 10 days.
To catch the reds, Bardwell and his clients are throwing dead shrimp under corks.
“Very few of our customers are able to throw spinnerbaits, but if you can, you just get in the river and work the rocks,” Bardwell advised. The action is particularly good at breaks or cuts in the river’s rocks.
Bardwell is finding the flounder fishing to be particularly good in the passes this year. He’s focusing on drains coming out of the marsh during falling tides.
Hot baits have been dead shrimp on a 1/4-ounce jighead and spinnerbaits with nothing but a jghead tipped with dead shrimp.
“You just slow-roll that spinnerbait along the bottom at the mouth of the drain,” Bardwell advised. “You’ll pick up three or four flounder at each drain.”
One fish you should not make a special trip down to Venice to target, however, is bass.
“The partner in my houseboat came down looking for bass,” Bardwell said. “They fished four days and never caught a bass. He’s a really good bass fisherman too.
“They went to Delta Duck, Dennis Pass, Cadro and Raphael, but they didn’t have any luck at all with the bass.”
The anglers did, however, load up on redfish and flounder while targeting largemouths with spinnerbaits and plastic worms.
Bardwell said he’s heard a hypothesis about the slow bass action.
“I’ve got a buddy who’s got a camp over there in the Camp Canal, and he lives down there. I’ve never heard this before, but he says the river never got high enough this year to push any bass down.
“I don’t know if that’s true, but I know there aren’t many bass right now.”
In some states, redfish are called spottail bass. So for a while at least, those will have to do.