I too am from LA- grew up in New Orleans and unfortunately picked up fly fishing after I had moved away. But always had a great time when I would come back and fish out of Venice or Delacroix at my buddies' places. Both guys gave you good advice I think- a 7/8 St. Croix was my first rod. I made the mistake of matching it with a Pfleuger reel and don't think it lasted more than 2 coast trips. My suggestion would be either a 7 or 8 weight- that is a good saltwater/bass rod. I also like to fish a 6 weight in the salt but it has limitations if the wind picks up or if you are casting heavy flies. And I think you will find that you will be redfishing more than you will be pond fishing- especially if you are that close to good water. Tip flex would be the way to go as far as action is concerned- so when that wind picks up it will not be a problem. I worked at Orvis during my college days so I had access to some good equipment at a great price- and my first saltwater reel that "lasted" was the Battenkill Disc Drag reel- the one minor drawback is it is not a large arbor but it is extremely durable (it once flew out of the back of my truck after a bass trip and was run over by a car or two and came out relatively unscathed). Hope this helps- good luck- careful though- fly fishing is worse than most drugs out there as far as I am concerned.