While Kevin VanDam lipped largemouth bass in the Louisiana marsh en route to his fourth Bassmaster Classic title, Team Attraxx tested hot new soft baits on saltwater fish just a few miles south.
Guided by Capt. Beau Weber of Capt. Phil Robichaux’s Fishing Charters, Howard Hammonds, president of Mystic Tackleworks, parent company of Attraxx Soft Baits, and his associate Ralph Myhlhousen, headed into the vast marshes near Lafitte, La., between Lake Salvador and Barataria Bay. At the upper end of the Barataria Estuary, myriad ponds and sloughs create some of the best redfish habitat in the world. Except for a few bayous and the dredged Barataria Waterway, anglers won’t find much water deeper than two feet in the marsh.
Vicious redfish, along with flounder, speckled trout, sheepshead, black drum and many other species call these shallow marshes home. Frequently, redfish feed in water so shallow that their coppery backs or black-spotted tails protrude from the water. Anglers frequently spot “tailing” redfish dipping their heads down to snatch crabs, mussels or other morsels off the bottom as big marsh marauders disrupt the surface with V-shaped wakes to pursue prey.
Sometimes, big reds lurk at the edge of the grass along the shoreline. At other times, they hover just over the drop-off edges, which may only dip a few inches. Sometimes, big reds follow temptations for long distances. When a redfish chases a bait, move it slightly faster to mimic a scared baitfish running for its life. Nothing makes a redfish madder than seeing lunch flee from its grasp. With a burst of speed, seething reds often annihilate such offerings.
As Captain Weber positioned his boat within casting distance of a reedy shoreline on the wide, shallow lake, Hammonds and Myhlhousen threaded Attraxx Mystic Shrimp in chicken-on-a-chain color onto their lead jigheads. When the captain gave the word, the anglers tossed their enticements toward the broken marshy shoreline. They let the baits drop to the bottom, only a few inches away, and swam the temptations back toward the boat with the chartreuse tails on the Mystic Shrimp wiggling enticingly.
Almost as soon as the Mystic Shrimp hit the water on the first cast, a redfish engulfed Hammond’s bait, kicking off a catching frenzy. Tasting the revolutionary SCI-X natural chemical feeding stimulants infused into each bait, the redfish didn’t just nibble the morsels, but inhaled them and wouldn’t let go. Scientifically developed after decades of research, the biodegradable SCI-X natural chemical compound leaches into the water, stimulating fish. When a fish takes a bait laced with SCI-X, the natural chemical gives the fish a burst of flavor and activates nerve centers in its brain telling it to devour the morsel.
For the next three hours or so, the SCI-X combined with the irresistible action of the Mystic Shrimp worked wonders on redfish. Team Attraxx boated about 20 reds in the 5- to 15-pound range without moving more than about 200 yards along the shoreline. Each spot-tail hit a Mystic Shrimp. Despite the fierce fish’s reputation for shredding baits with the brutal strikes, shell-cracking throat crunchers and tackle-busting fights, Myhlhousen landed about eight in a row without changing his soft shrimp. In the same amount of time, anglers in nearby boats caught just a handful of fish, mostly on live bait.
Keeping a couple reds for lunch and releasing the rest to fight again, Team Attraxx wanted to test the baits on speckled trout before heading head back to New Orleans for the Classic Outdoors Expo. The team moved out a little deeper into mid-lake where about 18 boats fished a weed line sitting in about three feet of water. Captain Weber set up a drift along the weed line. In the next 30 minutes, Team Attraxx caught and released about 40 speckled trout up to about 2 pounds and one largemouth bass. All the fish hit chicken-on-a-chain Mystic Shrimp with swimming tails and legs that provide scintillating action. In the same time, other boats fishing the weed line landed about a half-dozen trout combined.
“The key was to keep the bait moving and not dragging it over the bottom,” explained Hammonds, the hot stick in the back of the boat who landed a trout with almost every cast. “The trout wanted it moving and really responded to the shaking of that swimming tail.”
To book trips with Capt. Phil Robichaux’s Fishing Charters, call (504) 689-2006 or visit www.rodnreel.com/captphil. For more information on Attraxx baits, see www.attraxxbaits.com. To order Attraxx soft plastic baits, see www.attraxxbaits.com/dealers/online-retailers.html.