My wife and I have been fortunate to make the trip to New Orleans to fly fish the gulf for redfish. Here is a travel review for any of you considering this trip.
I am the type of person to do a lot of research prior to any trip. This eliminates a lot of guess work and hopefully some of this information on guides, restaurants, tourist sites, etc., will save you time or get you a great start.
This is a trip that a husband and wife can make even if one of the spouses does not fish. New Orleans has plenty of shopping and sites to see during the day if a spouse does not go out with you. If she enjoys nature but doesn't fish, I would encourage her to go out for at least one day. The scenery is great and there is constant wildlife and photo opportunities. The gulf is truly majestic in its own way.
Let's review the fishing part of this trip first. This is most likely the primary reason you are going or at least it was for me.
The Biloxi Marsh is probably the premier redfish fishery in the world. The marsh is huge in size and I have never seen another fisherman while on the water. In fact, I usually only see a couple of boats and they are usually shrimp boats.
The fishing in this area starts getting good in October and the fall weather makes for a day that is more bearable from humidity. In October, you will get good numbers and plenty of shots at redfish all day. Usually this area gets a cold front in November which is when the fishing really gets good. Hopefully your timing will put you in the marsh late enough that a cold front has already passed. This brings in the big fish and shots at fish in the 30 lb. range are not uncommon. My trips prior to a cold front usually only yield the 'small' 15-20 lb. fish! I truly believe that mid-November and after is the prime time.
Flies - I think this is best left to the guides. Since I don't live in an area that I need redfish flies, I did not tie any and left it to the guides. If you are thinking about going for redfish, you should have no problem finding some patterns to tie if you want. A quick discussion with your guide before hand can provide you with plenty of redfish patterns. In addition, I don't think you need more than 2-3 patterns and only a few of each pattern. I have never used more than 2-3 flies in any given day.
Casting - Take it from a freshwater fly fisherman, learning to cast can make or break your trip. These rods are 7 - 10 weights....and up. Along with this, the reels are huge, the flies are large, etc. This is not your typical 5 wt. with a strike indicator. Learning to cast beforehand can make a more pleasurable experience but the guides are willing to help also. First I would recommend you get a larger rod and begin to practice. Simply casting it and getting the feel in your hands is a good start. Practice in your yard, a pond, or whatever you have available. I find it helpful to practice on an elevated platform to simulate the casting deck in the boat you will be fishing out of. When you are fishing for redfish, you are sight fishing. This means that you will not be casting until you spot a fish. Sometimes they appear quickly and you need to react quickly. Learning to handle a large rod at a time when you should be casting is not the time. I learned this the hard way. In addition, learn to double haul. This is a very common technique used on larger rods and saltwater fishing. It is an excellent method for making long casts. If you can learn to get the distance without it, that's great but I personally need to double haul to get the extra distance when needed. Now understand, not all of your casts are long and require a double haul. The majority of my cast did not need the double haul but better to be prepared if you need it. It simply helps to get the feel of the larger equipment you will be using. When I first fished for redfish, I was concerned about accuracy. Accuracy is important, but you do not have to be dead-on. These fish can be finicky but most of the time they hit like a dog after a bone. As long as you can lay casts out in front of a cruising fish, you have a great shot. Yeah sure, if a fish is shallow and you hit it on the head, it will spook. Keep it ahead of a cruising fish and you should be fine.
You won't go wrong with Greg Dini at Fly Water Expeditions. Here are the things that I like about fishing with Greg. He picks you up at your door assuming you are staying in the French Quarter vicinity. This is very important when coming in from out of town and super convenient. Your day will start with breakfast at the world famous Penny's Cafe. This place is full of locals heading for work in the gulf area and all the redfish guides. Greg's equipment is top notch and his boat is super clean....every day. He is a serious fisherman and runs a top notch business. He will give you a full day and works hard for his clients. Greg's major league baseball background lends to him being competitive. This shows during the day as he is aggressive when a redfish is in sight. This is because he wants you to catch fish and will give you the right instructions to catch them. Bottomline, he is a top notch guide. If he is booked, he has other guides on his staff that he can book. I would trust his recommendations on a guide. You can't go wrong here. Contact Greg through his website. If you are considering what time of year to go, view his fly water journal for fishing reports and maybe that will help your decision.
I personally love New Orleans. The people are very proud of their city, history, and culture. I love visiting with locals and you quickly find that they don't mind visiting with you. They are very proud of their city. I like this and I believe that is one of the draws for me to this great town.
A few suggestions to get you started. There are so many great places in New Orleans, it is hard to go wrong.
Mother's Restaurant - This was recommended by the locals. Great baked hams and awesome po' boys.
Deanies Seafood - Deanie's Seafood is loved by locals as New Orleans' favorite place to find the freshest, tastiest Louisiana seafood, rated "Best Seafood Restaurant" (Times Picayune) in Travel + Leisure Magazine's "Best City to Visit" in the United States
Broussards - Fine dining. You can't beat it if you want an upscale meal
Montrels Bistro - Montrel's Bistro is a family owned restaurant located near the market area. If you go on a weekend, they are usually cooking up crawfish and crab outside. The experience is fun.
Cafe du Monde - Coffee and beignets. Lots of history here. Go at least once just to say you have been.
Port of Call - good burgers
A few others on our list for when we return and locally recommended since our last visit: Dick & Jenny's, Brigtsen's, Gabrielle, Drago's for charbroiled oysters, Mat & Naddie's, Pelican Club, Bruning's for stuffed flounder and fried seafood, and Jacques-Imo's (touristy but excellent).
Things to do
When we go, we stay near the French Quarter. We do not get a car and simply go everywhere by foot.
Of course, New Orleans is known for Bourbon Street. Depending on your style, you either like it or not. We spent some time there when it was busy, but enjoyed it much more on a weeknight when it was empty. We enjoy hitting all the side streets between Bourbon and Jackson Square much more.
Jackson Square is a national historic landmark and an area full of local artists and vendors and can be enjoyable to talk to the artists. Most of them have interesting backgrounds.
Although it is not usually my thing, I would highly recommend taking advantage of the city/neighborhood tours. This will take you through the historic neighborhoods of Uptown, French Quarter, Garden District, Warehouse District, Magazine Street, etc. Take the tour early in your visit and you may see some areas that you would like to spend more time later in your trip.
Feel free to contact me with questions.
Feel free to contact me with questions.
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