NEWS & REPORTS
The Famous Redfish at the Woodland Plantation
This early November we had the chance to experience and enjoy the famous red fish in Louisiana. With a group of 7 people, we stayed at the Woodland Plantation, just a couple of minutes before getting to Venice. Here we experienced winter time fly fishing for redfish.
Some of the best fish was caught by Chris Virant and Brandon Bredmeyer. Mark, my good fly fishing friend, had an amazing fish too. We were catching fish around 9,10 and 11 pounds, but some of the guys were able to catch 16 and 28 pounders. The 28 pounder was caught with a spinning cast, it was not easy to get them with the fly rod, and Brandon decided to try and got a nice, really big fish with the spinning rod one of the days.
We were a group of 7 people. Five friends from Texas, a friend from Scotland and me. We all had to fly to New Orleans and stay there the first night. Some of them went straight to the Woodland Plantation from the airport. This place is just one hour away from New Orleans airport. The good thing about this destination is that the city itself is worth a visit. Every person deserves to go here at least once in their lifetimes and visit its famous French Quarters in New Orleans. It is a very historical place with lots of restaurants with some of the best food in the world. The creole, for example, is some of the best food to enjoy. We arrived on a Thursday and we planned to be on the lodge that day but considering the weather conditions we had, some of the worst weather conditions in the last ten years in Louisiana, we decided to skip the first day of fishing, which had very rainy and windy conditions and get to the lodge that late evening. We had the chance to enjoy two days of fly fishing for redfish with difficult conditions. On Saturday, it was very very cold. When we were riding the boat it was just freezing. Of course, this weather conditions affected the fishing. The fish were feeling the cold water, but after two or three days of rain the fish needed to feed. So when they were looking at the flies, even when it was very cold, they would try to grab the fly. The first day in one of the boats for example we got 18 fish. The fly had to be very close to them, and once they grabbed the fly and were hooked, they did not put a fight, they were cold. We had the chance to see the fish before we cast. We were fishing in a huge marsh, the water is not more than 1 or 2 feet high, sometimes 3 but no more than that. Really low water.
When the wind was not blowing that much we had the chance to have some clear water. In other areas, the water was kind of dirty because of the wind and the rain from the previous days. The experience was very good because on the following day it was sunny, and not windy so the water was calm and it became much clearer, the ponds got much clearer and the water was not that cold so the fish became more active. It was completely different. The fish were moving more, attacking the flies more, and they fish were also more spooky. Every time the fly was too close to them or the line was over their head or too close to them, they would run away. On Sunday we had to use longer leader and thinner tips so we had to be as smooth as we could. Besides, it’s sightseeing fishing, most of the fishing is done with streamers, purple, white and green, some bronce for their eyes, when we wanted to go deeper, and without those eyes made of bronze when we didn’t want to go that deep. So it’s kind of stripping fly fishing, with a kind of streamer going under the water but not that deep. The fish is very aggressive when they grab the fly, when they get hooked they try to get away. It’s an amazing feeling to get the fish running in these ponds. It’s a unique species to fish. It’s completely different from the other ones. Although it can have some similarities with other sight fishing experiences, this is completely different. The location of this destination is great and people from Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, come here to experience and enjoy this.
Like mostly every other saltwater fishing, like Cuba, Bahamas or Belize, you go on a bay boat, a flat one. You have to cast while there’s someone at the back poling while the other person waits. Normally the pick up at the lodge is around 8, and by 8.30 you are at the dock ready, waiting for the boat to go. Normally, there are a couple different sections on the marshes where, depending on the area, there could be more fish or bigger fish and the guides choose the areas depending on the weather conditions, how sunny or windy it is. Normally you stay all day in the water until 3 or 4 o’clock when we come back to the lodge. The lodge is an amazing place called Woodland Plantation. It used to be an old cotton plantation in the old days, very historical place which has been remodeled by Foster and it looks now as it looked in the old days.
Foster is the main guide and owner of the plantation. He’s been there the last 20 years. First, he bought the piece of land, which included and old church, about 16 miles away, which was not being used anymore. He moved the church to that area and remodelled it to be a saloon, bar, restaurant. He used it as a common area for breakfast, dinners and drinks in the evenings. It’s a unique and special place that has a unique atmosphere. Then, he purchased the plantation, which is right besides this property and remodelled it completely.
Now it has 8 rooms with 8 private bathrooms, it’s designed in the old style, which makes the experience even more amazing. Then there are some cabins that Foster has for different types of guests, also amazing. We enjoyed being in one of the wood made cabins that has four rooms for a maximum of 6 people and a private dining place that allows you to have a great time after the fishing day.
Normally the fishing should be at least three days if you don’t run the risk of the weather. 3 or 4 days of full fishing would be the suggested length of stay. Normally after the fishing day you have a shower and talk about the stories of the day while enjoying some drinks and appetizers, the biggest fish, the smallest fish, who fell into the water, who hooked the guide, who lost the fish, who caught a raccoon, things like that, the unexpected that makes the day different. There’s always something that makes your day. This time someone lost his phone in the water, Hue, who fell into the water on Saturday, the coldest day. Luckily the guide had an extra pair of pants and lent them to him, otherwise, it would have been awful. It was terribly cold that day. The weather conditions make a big difference in this type of fishing and from what I’ve been talking to the guides the months of October to February should be the best months for the fishing. The early times of October and November are not that cold and less rain and during the winter you can have some days of rain, especially in January or February, but still good to have fish at this time of the year.
The food was fantastic. Truly traditional and local, representing the well known southern comfort and culture. Breakfast was heavy with lots of bacon, sausages, scrambled or fried eggs, it was good on the cold days to use hot spices, and drink plenty of coffee and tea. Like in most of the saltwater fly fishing during the day we had a cooler full of drinks and some sandwiches, snacks, appetizers. We normally get lunch on the boat, usually the guide gets you a quick sandwich in between tiding flies and doing changes in the lines.
The other really nice thing, no matter where you are in Louisiana is that you can feel the jazz in the atmosphere every night. That combined with the mystic food they have is very special. Being in Louisiana has been a completely different and special experience I was not expected. It really exceeded our expectations in terms of food, experience, fishing, camaraderie, all the staff was very friendly and attentive. We all had a great experience and we look forward to do it again!!! You should be the next one!