by Capt. Adam Jaynes
Over the past few months I have spent much more time in the marsh chasing redfish than normal. In the beginning it was due in large part from all of the rain and freshwater we received which basically destroyed the fishing in all of Sabine Lake. There was plenty of trout to be caught south of the causeway bridge but that area quickly became very congested. Fortunately, the water conditions and fishing has since improved throughout Sabine Lake.
The recent purchase of a new Yellowfin 17 poling skiff that my dad and I made could not have been better timed, as it has been ideal for the application. It's handling, shallow water performance, ease of poling, and quietness has allowed us to be very productive in sight casting to redfish with both flies and conventional tackle. A 22 gallon gas tank and 115 horses of Mercury engine hanging on the transom provides a tremendous range and allows us to get there quicker than most technical poling skiffs while still being very fuel efficient. We added a MinnKota 80lb i-Pilot trolling motor, Lowrance HDS 7, and a custom casting platform built by Brian Little from Ultralight Boatworks and the new boat quickly became a redfish catching machine.
In addition to the new boat and fishing primarily in the marsh here recently I have also made a couple of other changes in my arsenal. I made the switch to Lews reels back in March and have been both very pleased and impressed. I began using my Lews LITE Speed Spool when the Sabine jetties were covered up with bull reds and big jack crevalles and immediately put it to the test. The drag system is incredibly smooth and handled those oversized fish with ease. The added line capacity over my previous reels was also a huge bonus while still maintaining the low profile and lightweight. Thus far I have not had any mechanical or corrosion issues, which is what led me to switch to Lews to begin with. Another change that I made a few months ago was switching to Salt Life Optics. I made that switch due to an inacceptable number of failures in my previous choice of eyewear. The Salt Life Optics with Zeiss lenses has been excellent. No eye strain, no headaches, and no color changes on my lenses or rubber earpieces falling off thus far. They cut the glare and allow me to spot redfish in the marsh almost always before any one else on the boat.
Early on our primary choice of tackle was either a weedless rigged 3.5" wedgetail by Egret or a 3/4oz gold spoon. High winds, high water, and cloudy skies made the sight fishing nearly impossible for a while but the conditions slowly began to improve. As the tides have receded, water clarity improved, and the winds have lessened the fly rod has been the primary weapon of choice for sight casting to redfish in the marsh.
I would say, as I have gotten older, I'm still only 28 so "matured" is probably more appropriate, a few redfish landed on a fly rod has become much more impressive than an ice chest full of fish or stringer that can barely be hoisted. Although poling the Yellowfin in the shallows in search of a redfish that is on the hunt can be very rewarding it has been extremely frustrating at times. It seems as though the only cloud in the sky will block the sun just as we are getting on solid numbers of hungry redfish to hamper our vision enough to where we end up pushing more fish instead of spotting them early enough to present them the opportunity to eat a mouthful of a fly. But on that rare occasion, when the sunlight is just right and the wind calms and we are able to lay out a fly in front of the nose of a redfish that is glowing just beneath the surface…the gills flare out and you set the hook and instantly forget about anything else that is going on in your life.