Double Trouble!

God.  Fate.  The Universe.  Coincidence.  Destiny.

It matters not which one of these forces was at work when I received an email asking about taking three boat-loads of NSU college students on a wetland tour a couple weeks ago.

What matters is that Patti the Potter was on one of those tours and was introduced to me as someone I needed to meet.  I was told we have  a lot in common, and she once worked in the oil field.

Most of the students that boarded my boat that day were just that–college kids, except Patti.  Patti was a college woman close to my age.  Between tours, I got to know a little more about her.  She’s a senior art major, who specializes in pottery.  She was in need of a red fish for a top-secret art project that was percolating in her brain.  I just happened to have a nice red on ice over at Camp Dularge.  So, off we went to get her a fish or two for her project.

She was as happy as a crawfish in mud; and when I found out how much she likes to fish, I was just as happy.  Could it be I had finally met a fishing buddy who just might be able to get away occasionally and fish with me?

When I called her one night this week, she jumped at the invitation to fish with me the next morning.  My boat was already in the water from a tour of New York college students the day before, so we just hopped in and took off.

There was an area that my sister and I had scouted a month or so before that I wanted to try again.  Turns out Patti used to visit a fishing camp near that very area.  Perfect!

Even though it had been about five years since she had been there, she recognized some of the land and water marks, and I could tell she was right at home.  She was handy with a rope and anchor and was so passionate about being out on the water, I knew we would get along great.

We wound our way up a curvy bayou, looking for fishy water, and around the second curve she spotted a fishy-looking current line running from the western bank across the middle of the bayou.  We drifted in, and not long after she slung her bright yellow popping cork, it disappeared below the surface.

“F I S H  O N!”  Patti yelled with as much enthusiasm as a die-hard football fan screaming “TOUCHDOWN!”, and I was as happy for her as she was about reeling in that yellow-mouthed speckled trout.

She continued as she unhooked the trout and measured it, “Oh man that felt so good.  You just made my year!”  And unless you’ve been bit by the fishing bug, you just won’t understand that feeling.

After her bobber disappeared subsurface and reappeared bearing keeper trout a couple more times, I knew it was time to give up on my tight-line rig and switch over to my rod rigged with a popping cork.

We continued to pull in fish every few minutes at that spot until boat traffic scattered the fish, making them too spotty to find.  Trolling on up the bayou, we cast around a few points that looked like ideal spots for trout to be hanging out waiting for bait fish.  However, none of those spots were as profitable as our first stop.

Once we traveled to the end of my GPS bread crumb line, we tested the waters.  Nothing.  We looked for cuts in the marsh, where the bait-filled water flowed into the bayou, carrying the unsuspecting bait to the bigger fish that awaited.  We fished a couple of those spots without much luck.

Off in the distance, though, a little boat sat in a spot where we wanted to fish.  I tried to get up the courage to troll up there and get beside them; but I just couldn’t do it, mainly because  I hate it when I’m fishing a spot and someone gets right next to me.

Reluctantly, Patti and I turned our hats around and headed back the way we came to try again at the “Patti Trout Curve” where we caught fish earlier.  As we idled along, me still trying to make myself go back and horn in on those guys, here they came–two men in a little metal boat with a tiny engine.

They told us they caught a few “trouts”  that were chasing “minners”.  They didn’t even have an ice chest for their fish, which made me doubt they were the serious trout fishermen we were; but I just had a feeling we needed to go back up there.

We approached the spot and threw down the Cajun anchor while we looked over the area for current and drift.  We took a couple test casts, and a submerged crab trap reached out and grabbed my popping cork and held it hostage while another fishing guide idled by.

I tried to act nonchalant about being hung up on the invisible snag as he recognized me.

“Hey!  Y’all caught anything?” he yelled across the water.

“A few” I answered offhandedly (thinking “yea, a crab trap”).

“That’s good” he answered and sped away.

After Patti removed my hook from the crab trap, we trolled through the way that charter boat had just come.  Patti spied a nice drift line on the edge of a cove, just off to the right of the center of the bayou.

Rather than troll around, we decided to anchor right there and fish that line for a while.  Within five minutes, we could not believe our eyes.  The surface of the water began boiling with fins and tails of trout in a feeding frenzy.  If this is what the guy was referring to as “trouts chasing minners”, well, he definitely played it down.

Neither Patti nor I had ever witnessed such a frenetic trout-feeding frenzy in all our years of fishing combined.  She had seen reds do it, and I had seen small school of trout in a lake do it, but nothing this ferocious and widespread.  It was nothing short of amazing.

With our adrenaline pumping, we cast our baits into the fray and continued to do so for the next two hours.

The pattern was this:

The trout would seemingly go somewhere to  “round up” the school of minnows and then attack, roiling the surface of the water.  Then, the water would be still for about eight to ten minutes before they were back, snapping and slapping the surface.

Many of the fish we caught were literally spitting out minnows as we slung them into the boat.  At the height of each catching mayhem, we dropped them on the floor of the boat–putting them in the ice chest later during a lull.

The fishing trip ended almost as abruptly as it started, though.

Two men in a small boat trolled around a curve while we watched for the next bout of “minner dinner”.  They trolled within about twelve feet of us and anchored.  They asked us what kind and color of baits we were using, as they tried unsuccessfully to catch using popping cork rigs.  Even though we were tight lining (no cork), they continued to cast their popping corks as far as they could.  At one point, one man cast his bobber right over my line, which I quickly pointed out to him, addressing him as “hey dude”.  Nothing worse than a rude fisherman.

Truth was, we were in the prime position; but hey, we were there first, right?

If they had only been patient enough to sit and observe the pattern for a while, they would have seen that the fish were widespread and often passed within easy casting distance of their boat.  Instead, they were focused on what we were doing and where we were fishing.

Not content that we were still catching fish on almost every cast while they weren’t, they picked up anchor, trolled right across that imaginary “center line”, and trolled right into the cove where the fish were most concentrated during a frenzy.  They sat there for about ten minutes, casting their lines into the still waters.

And what do you think happened next?

How many fish do you think they caught?

I’ll tell you:  nothing and zero.

The damage done, they slowly trolled back around the curve from whence they came.  I could not help but think they just didn’t know any better, while Patti wondered aloud if they trolled over the fish because those two good old boys were not going to be out-fished by two women who talked to the fish and joked with abandon while doing so.

Your guess is as good as ours.

With the bite shut down, and about two hours of daylight left, we thanked the water and the fish, then pulled up anchor and turned the bow toward home.

Two triumphant women ended the day with almost two limits of trout, a golden-colored red drum, and smiles that could not be wiped off.  Not too shabby for two mid-life moms who spend most of their time trying to make ends meet for their families.

Before she left, Patti gave me a generous gift and said, “Girl, you don’t even know how you have made my year.  Let’s do it again soon!”

Tight lines, everyone,

BW

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Comments

Double Trouble! — 37 Comments

  1. Great write up Wendy. I can honestly say that was the best day fishing ever! The weather was great, the fish were hopping and you were wonderful company. I can’t wait to go again. I will gladly haul anchor and scrub decks for you any day. It was sad to see the camp where I used to stay reduced to burnt pilings. But, it felt good to be back fishing at the Du.
    patti

    • Thanks, Patti! It really was the best day fishing I’ve had in about almost a year! Oh, I loved your company, too. The first person whose been on my boat who talks to the fish while taking out the hook possibly more than I do! By the way, speaking of scrubbing decks, the slime hasn’t been scrubbed out of mine yet! Oops! I’m hoping you’ll become a regular visitor at the Du now! Looking forward to next time!

    • Yes, I was thinking how I never got to take my daddy trout fishing . . . he would have LOVED IT . . . and sometimes I think how proud he would be of me if he could see me using all the things he taught me about fishing at Toledo Bend when we were growing up . . . .

      • Wendy, I was thinking the same thing. My daddy would have been as happy as a pig in sh!t . He took me fishing when I was little bitty, Toledo Bend, Galveston Bay, Lake Palestine, all over southeast Texas. His sons fished too, but his daughter FISHED, lol. We had a wonderful day, I won’t ever forget fishing with you. Meeting you has really given me a new lease on life. I sure did miss fishing the Du.

  2. I want to go fishing when I’m there in the spring Wendy. I can’t say I’ve enjoyed fishing in the past so I want to see if it’s any better with the female crowd.

    • The crowd might have something to do with it . . . but if the fishing is slow . . . it sometimes gets tedious. A day like Patti and I had is rather rare . . . but we can visualize for the best, right?

  3. Kim, fishing with another woman is great fun. Wendy and I cut up all day. She’s the consummate fisherwoman and my new hero. I checked out your Etsy, your creations are beautiful. I hope to meet, and fish, with you in the Spring.

      • Well, before we get all excited about a spring fishing trip, we need to remember that the trout are in transition in April, and I am not the guide who runs out to the Gulf of Mexico to find them. So, we might find ourselves fishing for reds if I have a line on them then. April . . . . . I know . . . we could bass fish up in the swamp and watch migratory birds . . . . and eat lunch . . . and bird watch. Oh, we could even do “catch and release” for Kim’s sake! That would be fun! And maybe I’ll see my first black bear.

    • Wow, Patti. Coming from another woman who really can fish, that is the best fishing compliment I have ever been paid. The guys just say, “yea, she can fish.” So, thanks so much. You made my day!

  4. OK, rub it in! Hubby says we’re heading south real soon. I’ll call ya, maybe you’ll be able to fish with us.
    BTW, I tend to catch abandoned crab traps regularly. I just have that knack.
    I’m glad y’all had a good time, that’s what it’s all about.

  5. Awesome day BW,sorry y’all had to put up with a couple of “dudes”.I think thats the nicest word I have ever called fishermen like that,one of the things I don’t miss about being a trout/redfish guide.

    • Ronnie, what kind of etiquette did you practice in Fla.? I mean, she and I were anchored to the right of a pass, the water flowing south through the pass. We were facing north, with the wind at our backs, casting mostly in the middle of that flow and then in a cove to the right where they were gathered up. Those guys came along and watched us a while and then decided to anchor to the left of the pass. The could easily cast into the middle of the flow, but once they crossed that imaginary “middle line” they were fishing right next to us. That was fine with me because there were PLENTY of fish. However, when he cast his popping cork right over my line and said “Hey, dude, you’re right on top of me.” He said, “Oh, sorry, the wind got me.” Lie. I don’t go fishing to get upset about anything–it defeats the purpose–but truth is, some people just don’t know what they are doing. Some people don’t know a thing about fishing etiquette, and then there are some who just don’t care. And the icing on the cake was after they trolled over the fish, we left and within minutes, they were right behind us leaving, too. So, why do YOU think they trolled over the fish????? I hate to think the worst of people . . .

      • LOL!!! Do you think that was it??? Oh my gosh, it must have been you!!! (You can ignore the email I sent asking about this comment. I was seeing it on a list and not in relationship as a reply to my question. Sorry.)

  6. As in all things BW it’s just a simple matter of courtesy and respect for others,there are a few on the water that really just don’t know any better.
    It’s bad here to in the late fall and winter fishing in rivers and creeks,a lot of these people think they own the water and the fish in it. Even as a commercial fisherman I will slow to a idle and ease by as far away as possible and if people are nice and wave back alot of times I will cut the engine and tell them where fish are but I have been cussed at even though they are fishing in the middle of the highway I have been using for 30 years.

    These two may be part of the group that just doesn’t know any better.I make the mistake of assuming that people know more than they do all the time with matters concerning fishing and boating.

    • quote: “These two may be part of the group that just doesn’t know any better. I make the mistake of assuming that people know more than they do all the time with matters concerning fishing and boating.”

      We are in the same boat, Ronnie!

  7. WOW… sounds like you two had a great time!

    I could almost feel the wind blowing and smell the water tang on it.

    Been a while since I’ve wet a line. I’ve never fished much. Most of my experience has just been sitting on Dad’s docked pontoon boat with a cane pole and a can of worms. Talking and sipping a beer with Dad, more so than serious fishing. And, yep, I’ll bait my own hooks!

    Someone orta teach them “Uncouth Two’ some fishin’ manners.

  8. Looks like y’all had a great time! We were planning to go to Alabama this summer with some friends but the Army changed our minds and are stationing them somewhere else so we have a free spot in our summer and no vacation planned now. Any suggestions???!!!!! I was telling MrCoach about maybe coming down there instead and he was all for it but suggested that maybe we share a big meal together, you make shrimp and I’ll make the frybread. Lol. Of course, he’s more interested in the food aspect of any vacation. 🙂

    • Summer is really hot and humid here and not the best time for inland fishing. We can go to the Cajun Bahamas though and hang out. The kids could swim with the gators, JK!!! Of course we can cook shrimp, and crab, and fish, and you can fry bread!!! You would have to book Camp Dularge ahead of time and we’ll work out a good price for y’all! Email me if you get serious about it.

      • I’m very serious, will be emailing you with some dates. It’s ok, we are used to hot and humid, we don’t call it Oklahumid for nothing here! I’m ok with the kids swimming with gators, remember I made them swim with stingrays 2 summers ago lol.

  9. Clearly, I need to make myself available to this crew as Comic Relief! When ya’ll get tired of hooking trout or red or whatever’s around, you can try teaching me how to bait a hook and how not to throw my line over someone else’s and how not to wrinkle my nose and go “Eeeuuuwwww….” when I have to unhook a fish.

    On the other hand, I can navigate, read waters, steer a straight course and find my way home, so I might could be useful, after all! Oh – and I can scrape barnacles, too, though I prefer not to if I can avoid it.

    Wonderful post. Can’t stand that I’m not closer to go out during the week!

    • I wish you were closer, too! Right now I have some “creosote” that needs rubbing off BAB’s hull. That’s what I get for leaving her tied up for two nights . . . darn rude boaters that don’t slow down for a boat tied up.

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