The Houma Area Convention Visitors Bureau (CVB) put together a fantastic fishing trip for members of the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association (LOWA) as part of their annual conference, held in Houma, LA this past weekend. As a member of LOWA and conference attendee, I was fortunate to be part of that fishing adventure.
Our guide for the morning was Captain Bill Lake, owner of Bayou Guide Service. Fishing is his game, and the waters of the Bayou DuLarge area are where he works his magic. Local fishermen have respectfully nicknamed him The Guru of DuLarge; hence, the moniker, The Gu of the Du. Also on the boat were Lyle Johnson, LOWA President and an award-winning outdoor writer, photographer, and videographer; along with Chris Holmes, Ex. Director of LOWA, avid kayak fisherman, writer, and photographer.
With the winds predicted at 5 mph and variable, Capt. Lake planned a trip for us to Raccoon Island, part of Louisiana’s old barrier island chain, once known as Last Island or Isle Derniere. Nice-sized rolling waves met us as we reached the shores of Caillou Bay–with winds higher than predicted. Capt. Bill commented that he wished that short, little weatherman could be on the boat with us at that moment.
But the plan was laid, so off we headed into the rough seas toward Coon Point, the western end of the island, in search of schools of big bull reds the good captain had seen earlier in the week. As day broke, we found our spot on the Gulf side of the point, anchored, and tried our luck.
The big reels were quickly baited with blue crab, their shells cast off into the Coke-bottle-colored waters.
“Ladies first!” exclaimed Captain Bill, as he handed me the heavy-duty rod. That blue crab barely hit the sandy bottom before the rod tip twitched, evidence of a hungry red chowing down. A strong, steady pull on the line assured me my prey had swallowed the bait, and it was time to set the hook.
To avoid pulling the hook and bait out of the fish’s mouth, I jerked to the side to set the hook. Once the hook was set, the rod bent with the weight of the fish. My partners cast out their lines as the big red continued to spool line off my reel. Within seconds, shouts of “fish on” resounded from our boat, producing a rare triple-red-fish hookup!
The big reds swam hard away from the boat, zipping line off our reels as they went. Each time a fish changed directions , we had to swap places in the boat to keep up with our respective fish. Rods went up, as we went under, over, and around each other until the fish tired out, choreographing what we dubbed “The Bull Red Shuffle”.
Both the other anglers netted and photographed their fish before mine grew weary enough to be landed.
As the fish and I battled it out, the muscles in my upper arms began to swell like I had been lifting weights for hours. It’s hard to believe the strength of these brutes. At some point, there might have been some doubt among my fishing buddies (including those in the nearby boats) who might win this battle of brawn.
The fish finally submitted to the will of the fisher-woman, and a beautiful 34-pound red drum was the reward. After ample photos were taken, the fish was gently released back into the warm, salty waters of the Gulf of Mexico, to hopefully reproduce for many years to come.
The school of mighty reds continued to feed while gulls dove, snacking on the jumping shrimp for their breakfasts. It is no exaggeration to say we caught bull reds until we were worn out. But when Capt. Bill asked us if we were ready to pull up anchor and target the speckled trout, we dug down deep inside and managed to find some reserve energy. The time? A mere 7:30 a.m.
We motored to the east, on the Gulf side of the island where the captain chose a productive-looking cove. He cut the engine and let the wind push us into the cove while he prepared our double rigs, which he baited with plastics–LSU-colored and Cajun-Pepper chub minnows.
With the wind at our backs, we cast toward an eddy flowing around a group of rocks resulting in a steady bite. We hauled in keeper specks, juvenile specks, and white trout of all sizes, two- a-at-a-time on the chartreuse jig heads. Chris even caught a blue fish and a black mullet. We were near a large rookery, home to brown pelicans, terns, gulls and others. Their incessant squawking kept us company as we fished. Near the shoreline, brown pelicans dove ungracefully into schools of mullet, swimming in the tepid shallows.
Just as the bite slowed down, Capt. Bill received a radio call from a boat in his fleet saying they had gotten a tip that the birds were diving into vast schools of speckled trout at an island farther east. Since we were already so far out, we agreed to go for it. After a choppy 15-minute boat ride, we were greeted with great flocks of hungry gulls, diving for shrimp.
This time, the waters teemed with spotted sea trout (speckled trout) chasing the jumping shrimp. Lyle and Chris tried other baits, while I continued with the Cajun Pepper minnow-like plastic. The bait produced great results for me, sometimes hauling in cookie-cutter trout that quickly hit the box, with an occasional sow trout thrown in.
Capt. Bill, an accomplished guide, knew just when to stay put and when to pull up anchor and follow the school. He kept us on the trout continuously, with each of us putting limits of keeper trout in the box. With the ice chest bulging, the lid barely closing, we called it a day and headed inland. The time: 11:00 a.m.
Noon-time found us back at the captain’s landing, swapping fish stories and taking more pictures. Some of the TV guys pulled out their video equipment and filmed segments for upcoming shows.
It was great being on the receiving end of such a successful fishing trip. Capt. Bill is indeed the fishing guru of DuLarge, and his twenty years of fishing experience are definitely evident. He generously passed along some of his tips, which I personally filed away and plan to implement in my own charters. My fishing hat is off to Capt. Bill, and now I know first hand why he is called The Gu of the Du.
Until next time,
Post Script: Most of these photos were provided courtesy of Capt. Bill. He’s a great photographer, as well.
If you live in Louisiana and would like to see footage of the fishing trip and the conference, please watch for future episodes of “Paradise Louisiana” starting this Thursday night. If you would be so kind. could someone record it for me, please?