It was my great pleasure to bring in the new year with a fishing trip for red fish with the distinguished Dr. Kenneth Klaus, of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA. Along with him were his two sons, musical geniuses in their own right.
Chris, the older of the two brothers, is the minister of music at Latham United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Alabama. Mike, the younger, is assistant director of music at First United Methodist Church in Houma, Louisiana, the music teacher at St. Bernadette School in Houma, and just happens to be my favorite son-in-law.
These guys are super busy, and we’ve been trying to get them together out on the water for over a year. Although I’ve taken both Mike and Chris out fishing previously, it was way past time to get their father on the water with them.
As the day approached, these men were as giddy as kids about their upcoming fishing trip. Although I hate being the bad guy, with wind predictions between 12-17 mph the morning of our planned trip, I had to cancel. Besides, a cold front had moved through the day before, dropping water temps to the point where it would be quite difficult to get a speckled trout to bite.
To shorten the story, Mike persisted with me, and we ended up making an afternoon trip that day, hoping for the best. Before we left the dock, Dr. Klaus bought a pound of bait shrimp just in case, and what a great move that was.
In the winter months, the specks stack up in Lake Decade, just a short boat ride from the landing, usually making for easy pickings and at least a few nice trout for the dinner table. So, we headed to the lake around 2:30 and jumped right in, each fishing a different color lure and method to see what they would bite.
The fishing was S L O W, but with water temps at 46 degrees, the fish would be huddled deep somewhere trying to stay warm. Yes, I know they’re cold-blooded creatures, but the cold water makes them lethargic, and they’re not inclined to eat unless the bait jumps in their mouths!
These fishermen were so patient, though, and repeatedly commented about how great it was just to be out on the water together, a very rare event. After about an hour and a half of hard fishing and catching only one undersized trout, it was time to make one last move to the dead-end canals to try our luck.
The plus side of canal fishing is that we were blocked from the stiff northeast winds that had kicked up in the lake. With the sun going down, I knew this would be our last chance at boxing anything.
As we drifted the center of the canal, working our way toward the deep end, I decided there should be some red fish lurking near the shoreline. It was time to change hooks and use the dead shrimp. In short time, I had hooked a nice catfish, and although it wasn’t what we were targeting, it was nice to really get the skunk off the boat
Shortly thereafter, the good doctor hooked himself a little black drum. “That felt good! First fish I’ve caught in five years!” Well, that called for a big high five! I just love positive attitudes!
With that, I hooked a nice red fish, and then it seemed the dinner bell was rung. One after the other, we caught beautiful reds, including Kenny, making his sons whoop and holler, excited their father had caught such a beauty. (In the excitement, I failed to get a photo. Regrets.)
Next, Mike hooked a huge fish, and he was so excited that Chris had to coach him a little, “Let him run, Mike, just let him play out!” At that point, none of us knew that this would be the biggest fish Mike had ever landed, measuring in at 26 inches!
The joke among them was that Chris is the best fisherman, and historically, Chris always catches fish, even when no one else can. Back in Alabama, he is a bass fisherman, but with four nice reds in the box, Chris still had not caught one, making this an historical moment for Mike!
After I caught my second red, the pressure was on for Chris to step up his game. The familial chiding was fun to hear as father and sons took turns reminiscing about fishing trips of days gone by.
Finally, just before the sun went down, Chris landed his first and only red fish of the trip.
It did my heart good to see the excitement with which Mike netted the fish for his older brother!
By the time Chris’s fish landed in the ice chest, the sun had settled on the horizon, warning me that dark would be upon us all too quickly. “Just one more one more last cast!”, chanted Dr. Klaus, as I readied the boat for the trip back to the dock.
Patience paid off for these gentlemen, as did that last-minute purchase of a pound of dead shrimp. In this last hour of fishing, we landed one catfish, two black drum, and five nice reds. Not a bad hour of fishing at all!
On the ride back in, I was thankful that these men had the chance to be together in the beautiful waters of coastal Louisiana, and that they caught fish, even if they weren’t specks as they’d hoped. When it was all said and done, maybe I was the one who was hoping for specks, and they were just happy to be fishing!
Happy new year to you all, and may this year be a fishy one for us all!