Lousiana Redfishing with the Holeman Brothers
The best fishing trips sometimes come when you least expect them. I recently heard from a friend about a place tucked away in the Louisiana marsh where the “hot” redfish action would make you glad it wasn’t summer. This redfisherman’s haven, called Hopedale, was not only home to HUGE redfish during these winter months, but also to a couple of die-hard fishing guides, Travis and Bryan “Bear” Holeman. AKA… The Holeman Brothers!
Typically, the cold winter months are considered the toughest months for inshore saltwater fishing in Louisiana. Lucky for us, though, it’s the trout that can go dormant in the cold winds and waters, not the more hearty and tolerant reds that we were seeking.
So, after speaking to Capt. Travis Holeman and hearing about the ability to catch these monster redfish on fly, I decided to gather the crew (and LOTS of warm clothes) and head for the Bayou.
Once we arrived in New Orleans, we met up with “Delacroix” Joe Guinta, a local who was kind enough to make sure we had everything we needed before we drove to the fish camp at which we were staying. He explained that since the hurricanes, there wasn’t much in the Hopedale area…except for fantastic fishing. You see “son”, down on the bayou, there were no grocery stores, no restaurants…just oyster boats, crab boats, and fishing boats.
Like New Orleans, Hopedale was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and was then hit again by Hurricane Gustav just last year. We were reminded of the devastation and heartbreak, as signs of the severe loss of life and property were still very apparent along the roadways in Hopedale. Abandoned homes and piles of debris were part of the landscape. However, once in Hopedale, it became very apparent that this village was still full of life, both on and off the water.
As for stalking big reds on the fly, it doesn’t get much better than Hopedale in the winter, however it’s not necessarily the location that makes it good but rather what you know about the fish and their response to weather. This fantastic fishing doesn’t come easy, as this time of year on the Gulf Coast means extreme conditions with fronts moving in every few days. Obviously, weather plays a part in how productive your fishing will be. But, the key to consistent action, is understanding the fish’s patterns based on that weather. Not many people know and understand these patterns better than the Holeman Brothers, which was evident by our successful fishing.
Our time on the water may have been spectacular, but meeting locals like Rod “Cappy” Ward, Cojack, “Delacroix” Joe Guinta, and the others at Biloxi Marsh Seafood Company was definitely a highlight from this trip.
This tight knit group of people welcomed us into their world, sharing a bit of their life on the Bayou with us.
“Cappy”, the owner of the Seafood Company, explained to me what specifically made for a great oyster…things like oyster liquor and water salinity all played a major part in the quality of his product. We witnessed bags and bags of oysters come in daily, as well as baskets and baskets of blue crabs.
Lucky for us, we experienced life at the docks to the fullest. There’s nothing like the taste of a fresh oyster or blue crab right off the boat.
As with any expedition, the people and places you encounter along the way are part of the adventure. While there, we embraced this little fishing village by engrossing ourselves in both their fishery and their lifestyle. In return, they embraced us and we now have memories and friends to last a lifetime. We look forward to the next time we hear the words “You in the bayou now, Son!”