MY NEWEST EXPERIENCE
My first fishing adventure was in 1939 when my dad took three of us nine year olds to spend the night and fish on Chambers Creek east of Corsicana Texas. We had lines hooks corks and made poles out of tree branches. He came back to pick us up the next day.
I have lived on Toledo Bend Lake for the past 20 years and have fished on the lake for 42 years. I can’t even remember all of the lakes I have fished in my 81 years. I have fished for marlin and/or sailfish in Hawaii, Puerto Vallarta and Cozumel Mexico, ST. Thomas in the US Virgin islands and my last trip was to Costa Rica where we fished in the pacific ocean. Since I retired Golf has replaced fishing as my number one pastime and I only fish occasionally.
I have a very close friend I do fish with here as he has a camp across the street and owns the last boat I had. For the past 15 years, John Sommers, has invited me to come to Baton Rouge, LA and go winter marsh fishing in the brackish waters off the coast of south Louisiana.
I finally accepted the annual invitation and last Friday Norma and I traveled to John and Patsy’s house for the weekend.
John had the boat outfitted and ready to go on a Saturday day of fishing. He woke me up at 2:15am and we were on the road by three. After a three and a half hour 150 mile drive we had breakfast at Mc Donald’s in Galliano Louisiana. You have heard the term “End of the road”, we were 20 miles short of Grand Isle, look on a map.
John launched the boat at 7:15am and we were off to fish for redfish and speckled trout in an old abandoned sulfur mine that was now submerged. Sounds like fun doesn’t it?
Well let me give you some more specifics to describe the torture. It was 42F with a 20 mile an hour wind gusting to 25mph. Our intended place to fish had whitecaps in water less than 6 feet deep. A small ships anchor would have possibly held the boat but John’s 25lb anchor was totally inadequate.
After sizing up the conditions, John decided we would fish in the canals around the old mine where there was some relief from the wind. For those, like me, who had never experienced marsh fishing, you have a large cork some 3 feet above the jig with a plastic fishlike lure covering the actual hook. Casting that day was definitely in a southerly direction as the wind was from the north. I made one slightly into the wind cast and it took me 30 minutes to untangle the backlash. After casting you make sudden jerks to make the cork pop like top water bass fishing with stick bait. The difference is you have to watch the cork constantly as when the fish bites there is no feeling in the rod and you have to set the hook when the cork disappears.
After about 20 minutes my bare hands were frozen. Fortunately John had a pair of cotton work glove liners that were flexible enough to fish. He had provided me with a coat to go over my turtleneck sweater and wind shirt and a pull over head cover that had a small opening for your eyes and even covered my neck. This cover was snow white and if it had had a pointed top, I would have resembled the Grand Dragon of the Klu Klux Klan.
After some 5 hours of bouncing, trips to other canals via the rough water of the old mine, John said let’s call it a day. I would have never asked him to stop as I am a rather stubborn individual by nature. My wife calls it “Hard Headed”. I was eager to agree with his suggestion which proves my sanity.
We caught 19 rather large speckled trout and several too small to keep. John caught one small redfish. Considering my lack of knowledge and weather conditions this was a great trip. After John loaded the boat, rinsed off all of the salt water from the boat and trailer we headed back. I had a nap between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and watched John secure the boat and put everything away.
A hot shower, clean clothes, dinner and a warm house had me in bed by 9pm. When I got up the next morning all of the fish were cleaned and prepared.
After all of what I described and the time it took John to help me just get in and out of my seat on the boat 10 times at least, he invited me back next winter. Surprisingly I accepted his invitation under the following conditions; the temperature must be 50 degrees; little or no wind: we would spend the night in Galliano; and that I am able.
Thanks John and Patsy for another wonderful weekend with the Sommers family. C Brewer