View Full Version : End of my summer fishing trip. It's a long read.

08-13-2009, 02:53 AM
It's been a great Summer. My one real regret is I never hooked up with anyone on here for any fishing. I've had a great time though. Early in July, the weather was too bad to get out there, then I went to Yankee land to visit my brother and his family. I got back and had to deal with a whole lot of manual labor for my dad. Finally we got to hit the water this past weekend.

How do you fit a whole Summer into a single venture? It was a trip I had envisioned as epic and it didn't disappoint. Between '97 when we lost our camp and '05 before Katrina hit, Dad and I, and many friends had borrowed people's camps around Empire for these sorts of fishing trips. It was always fantastic, but we still missed our old place so much. Katrina took all those camps and since '05 we really didn't have a place to stay. If a storm came, we'd hide on the porch of the one camp left in Bayou Cook. The guys there were nice to us, but we could never get an invite to stay. So for 4 years we didn't have a place to spend the night out on the bayou. We had to settle for the Empire Inn.

On our last day of fishing last Summer we happened upon a camp in Grand Bayou. I'm sure anyone who has fished around there remembers Henry and Cindy. They were a shrimping couple that lived out there in a camp. Well after Katrina, they sold what was left of the place to a fellow named F.S., who had once been a grand contributor and regular denizen of our camp back in the old days. We pulled up to the camp that day and he was there. Wow did we have a great time drinkin' cold ones and reminiscing.

We hoped greatly that F.S. would let us stay at his place this coming Summer, but then Gustav and Ike did their dirty work on the place. Imagine my happiness when I called F.S. and he said the place was just about back fixed up and we were surely invited to stay. I couldn't wait for this trip to happen!

We arrived on Saturday before F.S. We got things settled at the camp and waited out the squalls that surrounded us, but never hit. Dad is 71 now and his naps are becoming long and often. I fished off the dock and caught so many hardheads I was really wishing I had some crab traps to run. At one point I was reeling in a double hardhead and I looked down in front of me to see a 18 inch red 3 feet from my toes. Talk about upset! I flipped the hardheads and tried to find him, but I never did.

Once the storms subsided and Dad woke up, we headed back to the familiar waters of Bayou Cook and did some fishing. We were very saddened to find so many of our productive spots in Bayou Cook are no longer there. The place has changed so much, even from the last time we were there on New Years day. :(. We hit Bay Bastian and hooked into what we were sure was a mess of trout, only to find ladyfish and gafftops. That same scene would be replayed the next 2 days, even in the surf. It was the toughest trout fishing I've experienced out there since probably 1987. The tides ranges were very mild, and I think that might have had something to do with it.

We finally gave up on the trout and went for reds, which we found plentiful and large behind where Mato Zibilich's old camp was. I had just visited Mato's grave a few days before and I think the old man was watching out for us. We tossed back 5 that were over 25 inches and kept a 17 and 19 incher for dinner. One we made into ceviche and the other F.S. used to conjur up an Emeril style feast.

F.S. had arrived, so we headed back to Grand Bayou. The cold ones flowed, and the reminiscing of days gone by on Bayou Cook began. What a great thing it was to be in this place with such a good old friend. The father/son time was precious for sure. It was just as I hoped it would be. I know when Dad is gone, I'll always remember this trip.

I fell asleep on the dock that night staring up at the sky and thanking God for the opportunity to once again be in this place that I loved so much. I finally made it up to bed and I'm glad I did because we woke up the next morning to a nice thunder bumper. F.S. fixed a breakfast fit for kings and I was rearing to get fishing. Dad waited out the storm by going back to bed. After the storm passed, I didn't have the heart to wake him up and drag him out fishing. It was HOT anyway, so we stayed at the camp, sitting under the shade and told stories of days gone by. Nothing wrong with that.

F.S.'s camp is a palace compared to our old place. Diesel generator, color T.V.s, central air, etc. He was worried that we would have some trouble running the equipment and neither Dad or I wanted to chance it, so he turned it all off. We had been roughing it for 27 years at our place and neither of us wanted to worry about a malfunction. F.S. was worried about leaving the place in our hands, but I got a check list of all the things to do before we left and he finally looked like he was ok, leaving us there. He and his buddies finally left about 3pm on Sunday and my buddy was due at the dock by 4.

A word about my friend Michael, whom everyone calls Ziggy. I met Ziggy when he and I were bouncers at Fat Harry's on St. Charles Avenue back in 1997. We quickly became good friends. We golfed and worked together at various jobs and I brought him out to the bayou a couple of times. He had gone from foul to comical while learning how to fish. But not since '04 has he wet a line.

To say Ziggy is a greenhorn is an understatement. I told him to bring a rod and reel with him and that was all he'd need besides beer. We met him at the Delta Marina at 4pm. He piled out of his truck with a bag of clothes, a cooler of beer and water, and the most splendid antique fishin' rig I've ever seen. An ancient METAL spinning rod, I guess 1950's vintage, mated to a fantastic 1970ish Mitchell 300. This was the reel I grew up using and I was glad to see it as an antique, but I was rather concerned about it's adequacy against a redfish. I asked him where he got his rig and he said he found it in the back of his dad's closet, that he hadn't used it since around 1979. The whole rig looked like he had just picked it out at the old Security Sporting Goods.

We piled in the boat and I went about to rigging him up as Dad moved us toward Bay Adams. The first 20 feet or so of the line simply fell apart in my hands. I didn't have any extra line, so I was rather worried about Ziggy's chances of fishing with this rig. I kept stripping off line and testing it and I finally found a sweet spot. I rigged him up with the old school shad rig and cork and we went after reds with fine affect. He didn't get any, but Dad and I did. When a squall blew up, it was time to find shelter. We headed toward Grand Bayou, but ran into some birds in Bay Bastian. You guessed it, ladyfish, tiny trout, and the whiskered slimers. We did manage 2 keepers at 13 inches, but the thunder behind us removed all hope of any more.

Back at the camp we got settled and waited out the storm. When it passed, Ziggy and I made an attempt to learn the new territory of Grand Bayou while Dad napped. All I got for my efforts were some good pics of the sunset and a dad gum sting ray. I caught 4 of the suckers on this trip.

Dinner was leftovers from the night before with a few new ingredients added. F.S.'s cooking was just as good the second time around. What happened next was what makes having a camp so very special. Just sitting around in the cool breeze enjoying each other's company and stories. The moon rise was absolutely incredible. Dad made an exit for bed around midnight, but Ziggy and I drank and told the hours away. Neither of us wanted to hit the rack. It was just so beautiful watching the moon and stars. We finally retired around 3am. I slept through the storm that hit soon after, and awoke at 6:45 to harrowing stories from Dad and Ziggy about lightning striking all around and rain flying through shut windows. There's nothing like sleeping out there. It is peace incarnate, even in a storm.

With their stories done, I tried to roust them for the morning fish, but neither would have it. So I hit the sack as well, waking up around 9 when the room began to get like an oven. We fixed breakfast and Ziggy and I headed out for fishing while Dad retired again to bed. F.S. had rigged up a 12 volt fan for Dad and he had every intention of taking advantage of the luxury.

Wishing I was in Bayou Cook where I knew where the fish were, but not wanting to venture far without Dad, I was set on learning this new area. First we tried an old dam where we found 20-50 lb gars rolling all over the place. They were prehistoric monsters for sure, and they avoided all our efforts to hook them. I finally relented and went off to find reds. We hit an old shell pile that I thought looked good and I saw a tail. I put Ziggy right on the red and the fight was on. His first red in 5 years was a great one. 21 inches and a heckuva fight. I was inpressed that the old Mitchell with the ancient line actually held up. After farting around with small fish, I decided to delve deeper into the marsh.

Finding a place that looked good, I told Ziggy where to cast and readied my rig. The girl like scream that greeted my ears threw me for a loop. He had a whopper on. I coached him continuously until the fish wrapped around an island, so I pulled anchor and followed the fish. It was an epic battle for a greenhorn. Luckily the fish was hooked well and I was able to follow him. He barely fit in the net. I explained to Zig that we'd have to throw him back as he was too big to be good eating. It was then that I noticed the hook was all the way down his gullet and he was bleeding out. Had to bend the fish in a circle to put him in the chest. 34 inches was the length. I hated to box him, but he was done for. Ziggy had passed a milestone in his becoming a fisherman. His first bull red. After another sting ray encounter, we headed back to the camp.

Dad was up and around, but said he had more fun watching that battle from the window than he would have catching it himself. He didn't want to go fishing until the later afternoon. We busied ourselves cleaning the camp from stem to stern. I wanted to make darn sure we get invited back. I cleaned things nobody would ever look at just to show my appreciation, and Ziggy pitched in mightily. I think that red made him into a bayou boy like me.

All packed up, we said our goodbyes to Grand Bayou and the wonderful place F.S. let us use. Bayou Cook was our next destination. Given the conditions, I knew there was only one place left that would give us any luck. I was glad to find it stil existed and it did not dissappoint. 2 more reds for Zig, who was really getting the hang of it, a red and a drum for Dad, and me? Another sting ray of course. Dad called last cast as the hour got to 6:30. I made it count, sort of. My cork landed square where I wanted it to and the water boiled. I waited for tension on the line and set the hook, only to see my cork zing away as I reeled in. My line must have been nicked. The fish was gone, or so it seemed. We all had a final beer and pulled up the stake out stik. Dad fired up the old Johnson and Zig, in true fisherman fashion, scanned the marsh for my cork. "There it is!" he exclaimed.

The chase was on. I didn't like being shut out, and he can't stay down with one barrel in him :D. We chased the cork and I cast again and again trying to snag it. Finally we had him cornered in a dead end pond. I knew I had one last cast to snag the leader, or I'd just scare him into screaming past the boat back into open water. With the clock ticking past 7:15, I knew this was it. I put on a tandem rig and tossed it well past the cork and hit it just as the fish turned. BAM! Talk about a fight. I was so ginger with my efforts because I knew I could disconnect from the leader at any time. The fish screamed past the boat and back into open water and Dad used the push pole to chase him. 10 minutes later, Ziggy netted the beast. Talk about some serious fun! 25 inches is usually a throw back, but this fish as Ziggy's, had been was hooked too deep.

We toasted a great team effort with our last 3 brews and passed our old camp site for a tradition. Dad and I gave each other a hug in front of the pilings that mark the most cherished place I have ever know, and I said as I always do, "Hey Dad, thanks for buying the camp." We hurried back to the Delta Marina by dusk. It was a long ride home to Harahan, and an even worse trial cleaning the big reds. But I'll tell y'all, I wouldn't change a thing.

Today I'll head back to Texas strangely without an ice chest full of trout fillets. But I have memories that will last as long as I live. Now I'll turn my attention back to my present camp. Blockade Runners will soon rise from all Ike wrought. By next Tuesday though, I'll be back teaching the kiddos, with only weekends to enjoy the water.

Hey Dad, thanks for buying the camp. - Sandy

huntin fool
08-13-2009, 08:49 AM
glad yall had a good time..(haven't made it to the bottom part yet since i gotta go..but good story)

08-13-2009, 08:50 AM
glad yall had a good time..(haven't made it to the bottom part yet since i gotta go..but good story)


Waltrip will wait on ya. :smokin:

08-13-2009, 09:26 AM
good story!

08-13-2009, 09:28 AM
Great read!

Hopedale Hustler
08-13-2009, 11:32 AM
good report...sounds like a blast.

08-13-2009, 01:31 PM
Thanks for sharing you memories. Very well written.