The early morning boat ride was mighty cold as Cameron Waldo, Vince Hannegan, and I tried in vain to stay warm in the pre dawn hours as we wound our way through the maze of bayous and ditches in search of just the right pond to chase redfish. Our destination finally revealed itself as the world opened up among the rosseau cane.

Bulky wakes were the only evidence that redfish were on the prowl as the water was murky and the fish were not actively feeding. Cameron, who had come down from Arkansas on vacation to visit family, had never caught a redfish before and that was the goal from the start. Around mid morning he was rewarded for his efforts by a beautiful 25 inch redfish that just crushed a ‘She Dog’. The strike was violent and the fight was fun to watch as Cameron  continued to say “this is no largemouth bass” while tangling with the copper colored brute. The healthy fish finally gave in and Cameron had his first redfish. I am sure that when he gets back to Arkansas he will look at those bass a little different when they fight, just not the same if you know what I mean.

The redfish has more than earned its reputation as a hard pulling adversary that will hit a variety of baits with a vicious strike. Perhaps the ultimate for a lot of anglers, myself included, is when you catch one like Cameron did on a topwater plug. The strike is easily the best part of the whole ordeal. Redfish have to try extra hard to eat a topwater because their mouth is basically designed to eat things off the bottom. In order for the redfish to eat a surface plug they often have to come out of the water and actually come down on top of the plug. On occasion they become so aggressive that they actually knock the plug off their head in their rush to get the plug, the harder they try to eat it the farther away the knock the lure.

Artificial or live, it really doesn’t matter because you really know when a redfish comes along. Anglers who like to fish the river rarely have a problem telling the difference between a redfish and other fish when they pick up their live bait offering from the bottom. The distinct thump with which they hit is unmistakable. Rarely is the time that a redfish takes a swing at some food that they miss. I have witnessed some bizarre things at the cleaning table compliments of redfish. While checking the stomach contents of these eating machines I have found the obvious crabs, shrimp, shad and mullet as well as some other less common things. Grasshoppers, clam shells, dragonflies, and plastic snack cake trays to name some of the weirdest. These fish subscribe to the theory that you get everything you aimed for and a little extra around the edges for good measure.

The coming summer months offer up some of the best opportunities to catch redfish during the year. Right now there are a couple of big schools cruising Sabine lake during the heat of the day. If you are lucky enough to find them it can be fantastic fishing, if you miss them it can be a long day on the water. The more predictable fish are in the marshes hustling little shrimp and crabs. Either program is exciting and challenging to say the least. As the summer sun takes over and the winds start to lay down it will be prime time for chasing these super fish. With ample opportunities and a variety of options the redfish will remain one of the true treasures for coastal anglers.