Just on the outskirts of the Mardi Gras Mecca lies an endless jumble of ponds, canals, and marshes known as Myrtle Grove, a place where “you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, save for the oil refineries on the horizon,” says Hilary Thompson, a Louisiana State University medical school statistician and obsessed angler. In places with some freshwater inflow, there are schools of good-size largemouth bass. But the king catch of New Orleans is the redfish. Hidden among the marshes, you can spend the day sight-fishing the clear water and have shots at dozens of hard-fighting reds a day, all in the 6- to 8-pound range.
In the 1980s, famed chef Paul Prudhomme made the blackened redfish a staple of his menu. Some say this simple, delicious recipe incited a craze that sent the fish spiraling toward extinction, setting off what was known locally as the redfish wars between commercial and sport fishermen. But cooler heads prevailed, and commercial net bans and catch restrictions were put in place. The redfish is back now, with a vengeance, which means you shouldn’t be bashful about stopping by CafÂ¿Â¿ Degas (504-945-5635), where chef Stephen Hassinger serves up a mean redfish meuniÂ¿Â¿re. Contact Uptown Angler, 800-974-8473; uptownangler.com.