Don't bring me down!

I can think of at least three versions of that song, but none of them make that appeal for the same reason I do.  After a month of mind-clogging reports and discussion everywhere I turned of leaking crude oil, tar balls, oily wildlife, threatened livelihoods, and far-reaching negative impacts with no end in sight, the need for a BP FREE ZONE became evident.

It was Memorial Day weekend, which typically sets things abuzz here at the local marinas round about the Thursday before, with hundreds of sport fishermen launching in anticipation of the Houma Oilman’s Rodeo.   However, this year, due to the oil gusher, yet one more iconic event was canceled, making the list of cancellations about as long as my arm and all faces hanging about as low as my knees.

My long holiday weekend started that Thursday with a very good vibe during the wetland tour with the Dutch Doctors, leading to my proclamation of a “BP FREE HOLIDAY”.  With that thought in mind, I removed myself from every discussion that had anything to do with the oily mess, didn’t listen to the radio,  didn’t watch TV news, or read the news.  Seriously.  That was the only way I could get away from the disaster.

It was imperative for my own well being, because there is still no sign of the oil within my tour boundaries as of this writing.  So, would judgmental folks prefer me to sit inside, sinking deeper into depression over that which I have no control; or would I rather jump in my boat and let the yet untouched water and wetlands chase away those oily demons for me?

So, early Friday morning, as I sat drinking my coffee and reading Fruitless Fall (sent to me by the author–I’m famous you know!), a thought rudely interrupted my reading,

“Why are you sitting here on such a gorgeous morning?  It’s almost June, and do you remember what the red fishing was like last June?  Hm?  Do you?  Just because the fishing rodeos are canceled, doesn’t mean you can’t fish.”

And I stopped reading, because yes, I do remember.  I remember it well, so well that before I could make the conscious decision to go fishing, the book was lying on the coffee table, and my body was headed out the door.  Within fifteen minutes, I was on my boat, headed toward that same honey hole.  It didn’t matter to me that it was already 7:30.  The fish were calling me, and I knew right where to go.

There were no other boats in sight–the cancellation of the rodeo was their loss and my gain–so I moved right into my spot.  About thirty yards away from the spot, I slowed the motor to barely an idle so that I could observe the fishiness of the water and check the wind direction.  All systems were go, so I drifted in with the Cajun anchor in hand, knowing that I would throw it down into the water just past the starboard bow.  That would keep the boat positioned allowing me to cast along the left and right, luring the reds and bass out from the under the lily pads, and then 180 degrees around the sides and stern of the boat.

Schools of minnows swirled innocently in the falling tide, weaving in and out amongst schools of mullet.  As I observed their behaviors, I wondered how they could all come to the same spot to eat breakfast and also become breakfast at the same time.  While wondering, I mindlessly made my first cast into the fishy water.  No bite.

It was already 7:45, but if memory served, the reds kept banker’s hours last June and didn’t show up to eat until around 8 or 9, so maybe that would be the case today.  Second cast of the H&H gold spoon and WHAM!  And then whir, as the voracious red peeled the line off the reel.

“Yea, baby!  They’re here!!!!!” my voice bounced off the bank and echoed around the cove.

That red felt like a monster as it raced first to the stern of the boat and back to the bow again.  My Berkley rod held its own and bent beautifully under the weight of my catch.  I grabbed the net on one of the passes from the bow to the stern and simultaneously opened the side gate, holding the fish steady with my strong left hand and arm.  Fishing alone last June, I learned that the pontoon boat is too high off the water to hoist a big fish up onto the deck without breaking the tip of the rod or losing the fish.

After netting the fish, I quickly grabbed my camera and snapped the photo of the first red of the summer, tossed it into the box without measuring it-obviously over sixteen inches long–and cast the gold spoon out into the teeming water again.

ZIP!  Another red, bigger than the first. The bite was definitely ON!  The action was smoking.

ZING!  This one didn’t feel like a red.  It dove deep and fought hard, peeling line off as it went.  It surfaced and jumped.   A beautiful bass hit the net and then the chest.

With an average of one fish caught every five minutes, I had five keeper reds and three keeper bass in the box in less than an hour.  For the next few minutes, I played catch and release with the reds, as the legal limit is only five.  Right at one hour of fishing, the tide came to a standstill, and the fish stopped biting.

There were no more minnows swirling, no more mullet leaping, and no more bass and reds bullying their way through the middle of the fray.

Breakfast was over.  Just like that.

I read a book.  I had a thought.  I acted upon that thought.  My thought led me right.  The fish did not disappoint.

My morning was euphoric, the rest of which was spent recording unfamiliar bird calls and other interesting marsh sounds with my voice recorder.  My intention was to transfer them to this computer and make an audio file so that you could enjoy the sounds, too, but it does not come with transfer options.  That means, I have to buy a more expensive one; and oh by the way, my birthday is next month.

About an hour later, with the temperature rising rapidly, I turned off the recorder, cranked up the engine and said goodbye to the lazy gar that kept me company rolling the surface here and there around the boat.  I vowed aloud to be back soon to do the whole morning over again.  During my trip, all that mattered, was soaking up as much of the beautiful marsh of southern Terrebonne Parish and its creatures as I could, while I could.

And I’m very glad I did.

Soaking up the sunshine and living life in the Louisiana wetlands,


PS:  Once again, I am so thankful for a life in the Louisiana wetlands, and a way to make a living sharing the majesty here with others.  Even though the oil leak is a very bad thing, I encourage all of you to go see the beauty while you can.  Take a ride.  Go see that old friend down the bayou whom you haven’ t seen in years.  Take a Saturday or Sunday drive and appreciate what we have, while we still have it, and I promise you will be glad you did.

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  1. Sounds like a fish story to me. I got to give it to you, you have pictures to prove it.
    reading your blog is better than reading a book. I actually feel like I was there on the trip with you.
    glad to see you’re keeping your head up.
    Thanks again for the stories.
    Oh, you kind of had me wondering what the last story was about when I saw the shirtlees pictures.

  2. OH YEAH, I’M GREEEEEEEEEN!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe I can talk hubby into a Redfishing trip instead of Trout. I haven’t had any Redfish on the grill in so long. I’ve got an idea… I’ll trade you some squash and cucumbers for a Red. I’d offer tomatoes too, but they’re not producing yet.

    1. Steffi – You and hubby need to come now while the water is clean and the air is not too hot. They’re catching reds along the bank of Decade with plastics under a popping cork. Don’t wait any longer. Seriously. Pick your day and come stay at the camp as planned. Tell him the captain said so. And if you want, you can launch at Jug’s and go to Mechant, because they are even catching trout in there this week. HURRY!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Thanks for “bringing me back” to your bayou Wendy. I had pictures in my mind of where we took the boat out the other day. I really enjoyed it!

  4. See,it’s all around you,ready to enjoy everyday right now,don’t sit around with a dark cloud hanging over your head,no one knows what the future is going to bring to us but I plan on making the best of it and I encourage you to do the same..
    I was pulling peeler traps when a squall came in today,40 to 50 knt winds and driving rain,beached the boat behind a small island and enjoyed the sights and sounds for a hour.

  5. Carpe diem or something latin. I spent a couple moments remember the Oilman’s tragedy from last year. Working 7 days a week has me on fishing
    hiatus almost for me. Just hour here and there with flyrod.

  6. BW ~

    blufloyd made me laugh out loud. My dad used to say, “Carpe carp”. Sure sums up your post!

    I’ve been struggling a bit, too, but managed to get a new post up with some advice similar to yours:

    … for now the fouled waters are quiet. The coast itself, fragile beyond belief, is not yet damaged beyond repair. In this lull… it’s time to turn off the computer and ignore the television.

    Just for a while… ignore the video feeds and go outdoors. Wherever you might be, take the time. Yield to the wind’s embrace. Breathe in the humidity. Disappear into the fog. Accept the heat. Look at the clouds. Describe to yourself the color of the sky, the weight of the air. Remember what science tells you, but consider what you experience with your own senses…..

    Who knows? You might even catch you a fish!

  7. My days as a zen hippie recluse taught me to be here now. Too many live for tomorrow or in the past.

    BW, send Termite out frogging with the camera.

  8. Frogging?? Oh la la I love frog legs! Would you believe a young man that works with my husband thought he and a friend were trying to pull a joke on him recently when they were talking about frog gigging and how good fried frog legs were??? They finally told him to check on the internet or go to the grocery store here and look in the frozen sea food & fresh water fish section.
    I don’t know if he believed them finally or not. Hubby has been working some long hours and we only get to talk for a few minutes during our dinner if he gets home in time to eat with us.

    1. As of today, we have not yet been. Termite went first night with a friend in their marsh . . . nothing . . . . gotta get my act together and go with him. And we use our hands to catch them! No gigging! We call it “frogging”!

  9. Tornado alley here tonight if anything left I be sacaulait fishing in am.

    Used to get 8 saddles for 12 bucks at bar. Then they changed the batter and dropped it to 4 saddles. I gave up.

    1. Like I said, sold my decoder ring to Dyepac, so what the heck are saddles? Only thing I ever used a saddle for was to ride my horse, Amber. That was back in 1976, before it became a popular girl’s name. Amber was the color of my horse; hence the name. How original, right?