The Red Fish

Creatures of the South Louisiana Estuary:
The Red Drum

Before you get the wrong idea, I am not a musical instrument that you can beat with sticks.  Actually, I am a redfish, and you can call me P. Rouge.  That’s short for poisson rouge, which is bayou French for red fish.

Down here in the estuary of south Louisiana, there are deep ponds in the marshes.  That is one of the places I like to hang out, now that I’m almost grown up.  I haven’t always hung out here, though.

My mother redfish laid millions of eggs out near the edge of the Gulf of Mexico.  It only took about a day for me to hatch into a larva.  Then I took a fun ride on the current into the shallow waters of the estuary.  There I found safe spot with a grassy bottom to hide me from bigger sea creatures.

It took me about three weeks to grow one inch, while I hid in the grass and ate every plankton that swam past me.  Now that I am about two years old and about two feet long, I eat bigger things, like small crabs, oysters, and shrimp. (Sh!  Don’t tell Beau, Meau, or Shev!).  Most of the time, I suck them in near the water bottom and grind the shells with these cool teeth I have in the back of my throat.

Once upon a time, humans could catch us by the gills using nets, but not any more.  I do have to be careful of funny-looking plastic baits, because they belong to the sport fishermen who would like to take me home and have me for dinner.  I’m too smart to get caught, though.

When I grow to about three feet long, I will find my way back out through the bays of the estuary and back into the deeper water of the Gulf of Mexico.  That is where I will eat and grow to an adult, and then I can return to the edge of the Gulf to lay my millions of eggs just like my mother did.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep exploring all the exciting places in the estuary.

If you’re even down my way, look for my back fin sticking up out of the water.  I like to cruise the banks, so if you happen to see a fish the color of bronze with a big black dot on its tail, say hello, because it might be me!

©2010 Wetland Books – may not be copied in any way without permission of the author

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  1. We need the same hype Redfish got for Asian carp in the river. Get your fly rod ready Blu’s gonna crank clousers out next week.

  2. I’m with mamabug! The only thing better than seeing their beauty or grilling them, is CATCHING them. To those who’ve never had that opportunity…they fight really hard!

      1. Is this Cajun French or Classic French? Rouge (red) and bateau (a type of boat) are the only 2 things I can pick out.

        1. It would be both I guess, Cordrlette Rouge is red snapper, Its been a long long time since I could converse without too much help in Cajun. Vivaneau is red snapper, the proper Genius (in French BTW). Got it covered either way.

          But not the fish BW is talking about. Sciaenops is a Red. So many regional names for fish. I like the P Rouge, it just makes sense. ‘Tis my new name for Reds, P Rouge.

          1. Foam – I’m always mentally tossing around ideas for children’s picture books. Sometimes I write them in my head while I’m fishing/boating. P. Rouge would be the name of the redfish in my story book. Cute, yes? We always called red fish “poisson rouge” down here.

      1. Saltwater fish my Mother nearly always baked, broiled, stewed, or grilled. With few exceptions, she let Pop fry the freshwater fish. I have always loved good seafood, fried, baked, boiled, grilled, raw. I have recently learned about poached too. Thats amazing stuff.

        1. Nah! I took French in high school & barely passed. That is a hard to learn language but, I had to learn it all over again when the kids hit high school so I could help them. Also Espanol’. Actually, I am learning that the Spanish I took in school too, is no where near the Mexican I need at the Food Bank where I volunteer. I am picking up more words every week.

          1. So many of the names are so similar I could almost get away with it in Mexico when I was selling down there. For instance; Marteau/Martillo, pelle/pala, Negro/noir, lune/luna, and these are just off the top of my head. Poissons/Pescados is a bit of a stretch but you can see what I mean.

            I came back to Louisiana and everyone laughed. Without realizing I had now picked up some spanish to bastardize what little french I had known. It just rolls off the tongue and you never even realize you have shifted. I have great respect for multilingual people, I have trouble figuring english, I just tell everyone its about communication and not grammar.

  3. I don’t spell in English too well, I am sure my French is worse. AND my grammar is atrocious.

    Cajun is to French what Australian is to English, same roots with some changes due to forgetfulness, slang, geographic influences. But they can still converse with little or no difficulty.

    1. Believe it or not, the French the Houma Indians speak is akin to the “old” French, as explained to me by a shop owner in the French Quarter recently. I walked in and greeted her in bayou French and she got so excited that someone spoke to her in French, and so we talked on and she realized that I was from the bayou from the French. She explained to me how the French she and others speak now is “modern” French, but the Houma speak an old form of French that has not been adulterated with slang (like our English has become). It was very interesting to hear her take on this. I’m no linguist but it explains why my husband and friends can converse with people from Paris so easily . . . especially old people.

  4. Headed to Environmental Educators Symposium in Baton Rouge with my books Friday and Saturday. Will be away from here during that time. Hold the fort down while I’m gone, okay? BW

  5. I’ve caught one – that’s right, ONE – red fish in my life, and I caught it right off the dock at Island Moorings marina down in Port Aransas.

    I remember two things – I knew when it hit that bait, and it was feisty! Big, too. Lots of fun.

    Oh, don’t tell me about Parisian French! I fled Paris after a set-to with a women’s room attendant in the railway station. I’d just arrived on the night train from Dover, and even though I’d had three years of French, the only thing I knew about what she was saying was that the decible level was going up!

    In the countryside, I did just fine. The people weren’t so hyper, either.