Happy New Year everyone, I hope this post fits in nicely with your new and prosperous beginning for 2015. For me, it’s calm and cold, and looks and feels like big trout weather outside, as a result, I’m looking forward to my next trip to the coast. As for now, we returned to TX last week after a wonderful visit with my folks and as advertised in my last blog post, it was high energy. More fitting, though, was that it was just what the doctor ordered for the soul, to be “home”, even if for just 8-days. We got to visit friends in Baton Rouge and catch up while enjoying red beans and rice and shrimp po-boys. We also hosted friends and family at my parents, and not only discussed the then and now, but what the future holds and as in any southern household, it took place over chicken and waffles.
During our visit home, my dad and I got to fish for 2 days, and like most the times we fish, it wasn’t fishing…it was catching. In addition to the catching aspect, I also learned something new which feeds right into one of my dad’s favorite phrases - ultimately leading to the topic in this blog post.
”Don’t read about the news, make the news.”
In order to fully digest this phrase, let me give you a little background on its origin. Growing up in New Orleans, as well as an inshore saltwater angler, it was hard not to tune into WWL’s Fish n’ Game report which airded on Thursday nights, hosted by Frank Davis. In his 5-minute segment he would show trout and redfish coming over the gunnels like they were fresh beignets coming out of the fryer at Café du Monde. He’d always mention, that it’s a sure bet to go to place "X" and you’ll be sure to end up with a box full of fish, that’s “Naturally N’awlins.”
Given that information, most anglers would load the boat on Friday night, and set a waypoint for the bay system Frank was “whackin ‘em in” just days earlier. We, on the other hand, never heeded his advice. Instead, we always trusted our fish logs and intuition, rather than an edited 5 minute clip. What my dad, an auto repair business owner, generally experienced on Monday morning was that those who banked on Franks “sure bet” were left scratching their heads rather than feeling a tight line.
Having had that mindset most of my life, I really don’t give it much thought anymore. To be honest a person could be catching 100 5lber’s on the Causeway in Lake Ponchartrain in 45 minutes, and it wouldnt peak my interest. On the other hand, I know plenty of anglers that would chase that golden nugget. For me, I’ll stick to remaining versatile given the weather and use my experience to read the water and make adjustments, even if it’s in my home waters.
Capt Mike McBride, being the great author and fisherman he is, wrote in an article after fishing with my dad and I, about my Dad's favorite saying. He, like he often does though put a little extra spin on it and wrote “don’t read about the news, read the water, then make the news.” Keep that in mind...
Now to bring this blog post all together. To say my dad has been catching a lot of speckled trout this fall is an understatement. Earlier in October, after attending the TAG Louisiana Annual Banquet in Lafayette, he set his sights on being the “top tagger” in the state. Last year’s champ tagged a little over 1,200 trout for the fiscal year of 2014, which is a remarkable feat. However, if you know my dad, you know once he sets his mind on something, he does it. Since his return from the banquet, about 2 months, he’s tagged close to 700 trout. In addition, he’s had 6 recaptures, one of which being his own. What that recapture revealed is that the trout grew almost 2 inches in the course of a month, despite being recaptured in the same bay system where it was tagged. Talk about fattening up for the winter….man alive! In short, he’s been scorching the trout.
So when he asked if I wanted to go tag some
trout with him, I quickly said yes, and couldn’t wait to get back in the boat with my dad on our home waters.
Monday morning we woke up at 0400 to near perfect conditions. Dead calm winds, low sky conditions and an approaching front had the makings of an astonishing day. Just how good? We didn’t know, but keep that quote from Capt McBride handy.
After an hour and a half truck ride, 2 egg McMuffins, and some Cajun French dialogue regarding LSU football and funeral caskets, we make our way to the launch. Scurrying to get the boat in the water, I'm backed down the launch and before you know it we're making the 10 minute boatride in lowlight conditions. Once we arrive to my dads two-month trout honey hole, it didnt take lomg to remove the doubt about this spot. Within the first 30 minutes, its evident the fish are loaded on this shoreline, especially when 25 trout are already wearing jewelry in the live well and the sun still has yet to hit the horizon.
So after another hour of catching, we exhaust all 60 tags, with no indication of calling it a day. So like I always do, I ask my dad if hes willing to explore. Having little to do other than watch football at the house, he says "You drive Captain!"
The next 2 spots we try are similar to the first, but way less productive. Additionally we change tactics and start throwing 17MR's, MirrOdines, to try and target bigger bites, but after 3 hours we have less than a dozen fish to show for our efforts. In desperate need for a change, I recommend that we go to a spot we used to wear ‘em out in back in the day. No sooner, I can get the question out of my mouth, my dad responds ”Are you sure? Let’s go back to our original spot…we were killing ‘em there.” I reply, “you can go back there during the week…you’re fishing with me today. You know I enjoy figuring them out as much as I do catching ‘em.”
“Yeah, you’re right!” he says and we’re off.
As we pull into our old hotspot we notice that there are 10 boats stacked up in the Southeast cove. To many potlickers, and in honor of the Epiphany, this was God’s way of showing his "wise men" to the path of rod bending action and tight lines. For us though...we were wiser. What many would classify as a pure gift from God, we classify as a putrid swamp puddle stagnant from the heat in mid-August. So in our infinite wisdom, we pull up on the complete opposite side of the bay and start working a flat that we’ve never fished before. Our fishing intuition tells us that this spot should produce, especially with some of the key features present, like subtle depth changes, great tide movement and bait out of the wazoo.
As we expected, our first pass produces about 15 trout, which in our book warrants another pass. The second pass, however, produces almost double and let's just say the third pass was an all-out assault on the trout. We caught them two at a time, every cast for an hour and a half. Additionally, these weren’t the pesky barely legal fish we were catching at my dad’s original spot, but solid 17-22” trout. Needless to say we caught a limit of 50 and probably another 75, in addition to the 60 we already tagged.
Now for the best part. Our production at this point is so on ridiculous that we're taking selfies with each of us holding a trout.
No sooner than you remove the hook and make another cast, a trout bumps your lure. Somewhere in this pandamonium we noticed boats coming and going to that SE cove all afternoon. Without a doubt, someone has spilled the beans about this spot, and innocent potlickers heed the free advice and head for the promise land. One thing that we found striking, was that some boats would stay 45 minutes, other would make one short drift and be gone in less than 10 minutes. At least 2 dozen boats came and went all the while, we’re on the other side of the bay, by ourselves, catching nice fish, every cast. With action this good, we say to ourselves that thwy must be smokin' 'em too.
So as our watches chime at 1600, we catch our last double and decide its been a great day and head for the barn. As we pull up to the launch, we’re idling alongside another boat. It just so happens to be the one and only boat that stayed in the SE cove with some longevity. Being polite and in no rush, we let them pick up ahead of us. So while we’re waiting for them to clear out of the slip, my dad asks, “Hey, y’all do any good in that cove in Bay “X”?
“Naw man, we struggled…we probably got about 10 or so trout and a few throwbacks.”
In disbelief, my dad and I look at each other puzzled trying to connect the dots. How is this possible? We just left them biting, less than 1/2 mile from where these 2 only ended up with a dozen fish, and "struggled"? Remember that quote from Mike McBride...you can apply it now. You see the spot we've never fished before had all of the tell tale signs of a productive trout area. We let the water and conditions tell us that, not a third party or a TV show.
Without a doubt, fishing is a learning experience, and anglers who aren't willing to be creative or exert some elbow grease, will never be productive consistently. As a result, if your willing to gamble on some inside tip than I assure you that the golden nugget of success will elude you everytime, and all you'll ever do is read about the news.
Thanks Pops for a great trip…I love you bud!
God Bless everyone! Tight Lines…