A Love Affair with Louisiana.
You might wonder why a group of guys from Eastern North Carolina, who practically have redfish in their backyard, would pack up their trucks and boats and drive 960 miles across six states to catch the same species of fish?
I am going to try to put into words why I think Southern Louisiana is such an amazing place. Yes, there’s the Redfish, but there is so much more!
Last week marked my 6th trip, and our little Mauser Fly Fishing family’s 4th trip to THE MARSH. I think using bold type and all capital letters is the only way to describe the habitat down there...because it is massive!
And starting before sunrise and finishing after sunset is the only way to honor the fishery there. Plus, how often do you get to chase the sunrise and the sunset on a flats skiff in the same day?
Early mornings start with fog over the water and a feeling of endless possibilities. The skiffs are rigged with everything from 6wts and shrimp flies to 12wts and huge poppers, because you don’t decide what you are going to fish for, the fish decide that for you.
Long runs through canals, lakes, and bayous (the locals tell me we cannot use the word “creeks”), reveal an abundance of wildlife that would rival the best national park. Eagles, Ospreys, Kingfishers, Spoonbills, Pelicans, Frigate Birds, Wild Pigs, Coyotes, Racoons and Alligators dot the shorelines and treetops. I could spend a week lost in the Bayou with my camera and never see a fish and still be overwhelmed with the wildlife.
But there are fish. Lot’s of them. And although their willingness is not guaranteed, the opportunities blow away what we see in our local fishery. I think the challenges of our fishery in NC, have increased our skill sets and have given us an advantage here in Louisiana. Not every day is a given, but even the tough days are fun.
Everyone who comes here from out of town, are lured here by the potential for giant Redfish in shallow water, but there are so many other opportunities. Three to ten-pound Redfish that fill the ponds and ditches, often crawling so shallow that their eyeballs come out of the water. Monster Black Drum that school in the dozens to hundreds. Tailing Sheepshead, aka Sheepies, that will eat a fly if you play your cards right. Multiple species of gar, including Alligator Gar, that will literally tow your skiff across the flat as you try to turn their heads and gain line. And last but not least, Cajun Giant Trevally (Jack Crevalle) that will turn your 4-piece 10wt into a 5-piece real quick.
And when you travel down with a brotherhood of close friends like we do; the lunchbreaks can be the best part. Rendezvous at a little island, miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, nose your skiffs into the grass and share a meal (and a fishing update) with each other. Turn the VHFs to channel 69 and listen to the “Shrimp Boat Radio” as Capt. Bobby and Capt. PP argue over how many shrimp they caught and who stole who’s “pickin’ rig”.
Then it’s back at it because you have 5 hours of daylight left to catch the 40 plus inch Redfish that eluded you earlier in the day. And when there is no light left in the sky to sight fish, you turn towards the setting sun and chase a horizon filled with hues of pink, orange, blue and purple.
With the skiffs fueled up and washed down, you grab a seat at the table for a mouth-watering bowl of Gumbo. Someone rolls out the nautical charts, and you make plans for the next morning while indulging in a slice of King Cake . You go to bed exhausted, only to wake up a few hours later full of anticipation for the new day.
And you do it all over again, as you continue your love affair with Louisiana.
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