Here it is, the Sunday before I go back to
work. Seems like my vacation just started,
but then, don't they always feel that way?
I have to admit, it was a bittersweet nine days.
Sweet, in that I got to spend most of them out
on the water, and with family I only see once
or twice a year. Bitter in that I've never
experienced a worse series of consecutive days
of fishing in my life.
We were doomed, after all. Though by Thursday of
the week before I left work the forecast was "iffy,"
I couldn't change my vacation plans. My cousin Jim
and his son Christopher were leaving Ft. Worth,
Texas, Saturday morning. I cannot schedule vacations
that include the second and fourth Wednesdays of
the month or the third Tuesday, because those are
our "biggie" government meetings that must be
covered. So if I missed the first week of November,
I was out of luck until the end of the month or
By the time Jim and Chris arrived, I was getting
worried and we hadn't even been out yet. The river
had risen two feet, causing the entire basin to
rise as well. Winds were suddenly kicking up from
the south to twenty miles per hour, and three,
count 'em, three fronts were expected to pass
through during the week.
Oh, I had prepared for this vacation far in advance.
I picked up an eight-weight rod to fish the salt
with my very first time. Our own Gary Henderson,
Flats Dude, gave me some great advice and sent me
some flies for redfish which were too beautiful
it seemed to fish with. I stocked up on indicators,
bluegill flies, put fresh leaders on all my rods.
I bought a new set of tires for the truck. Jim and
Deanna Birkholm sent me a copy of Pete Cooper's
new book, Fly Fishing the Louisiana Coast
which I devoured, and will review for FAOL later on.
But the weather could not be planned for, of course.
To make a long, long story short, we fished every
day from Sunday to Thursday, dawn to dusk, and to
noon on Friday. Total take amongst all three of us
for the week: About a dozen bluegill, none keepers,
two sac-au-lait (crappie for you Yanks), one bass
and one redfish, which Jim caught on spin tackle.
Desperate for finding fish that were biting
somewhere, anywhere, I took to exploring basin
areas I had never been. I ran the boat aground
on sand bars twice, and almost had to jump
overboard one of those times to get us free. I
ran down four sets of batteries in my GPS, consumed
perhaps one hundred gallons of gasoline, and, in
a freak accident involving a snag and a boat cleat,
broke the tip of my Diamondback four-weight.
It was not a week to be remembered fondly, as
far as the fishing goes.
But it was a week to be treasured spent with my
two cousins. We traded many stories, of course,
and laughed heartily often, both at our stories
and the despicable condition of the fishing on
our mutual vacations. It's good to have a sense
of humor about things like that. Otherwise, we
might have drowned each other out of sheer
frustration. I never knew what frustration was,
really, until I spent a week trying to navigate
an eighteen foot bass boat in fifteen to twenty
mile per hour winds and fish at the same time. I
ran down both trolling batteries completely each
day. Usually they last me two or three trips.
The fly rods worked best on the fish we caught,
really. Jim and I fly fished, and Chris began to
take an interest in it. I had been waiting for this.
One evening I put a new leader on Jim's line for
him, and Chris tried out some casting. He took to
it well, faster than Jim and I thought he would.
Jim still fishes a fiberglass rod my father gave
him when he was a lad. Jim's dad, my Uncle Ray,
gave me my first pocket knife. There was a
tradition at work here, you see.
So when Chris expressed that he might be more
interested in this whole fly fishing business
than he had formerly believed, I was ready. I
gave him the first rod I ever bought for myself,
two years ago, after a twenty-year hiatus from
fly fishing with my dad. A five-weight Pflueger
Supreme that was soft enough to help a beginner
learn, but quality enough to not frustrate him.
A graphite reel loaded with line, backing and
leader rounded it off.
Christopher was extremely delighted and appreciative.
"It's a tradition," I said, leaving it up to him
to realize that I had fulfilled my chapter in that
tradition. The next would be his to write as he
The cousins left Friday at noon. By Saturday the
winds were down to ten, and by Sunday, light and
Never let anyone tell you that the gods of fate
and fishing vacations are kind. Don't believe it.
It's all a vast conspiracy.
It's Sunday morning as I write this. Louisiana
Sportsman Online, Rod n Reel and LaFlyFish are
telling me this is the time: The winds are going
down, the temperatures are sweet, the redfish and
speckled trout are hitting rubber boots out on
the bay. The bass are coming into the shallows
and the bluegill are leaping into the boat on
But I got an aching back, tired feet and a broken
Diamondback. Today I'm going to watch movies all
stinking day with my girlfriend. Monday I go back
to work and have to face the most dreaded part of
the end of a fishing vacation possible, the horrid
question, "How much did ya'll catch?"
I told my cousins that the interesting thing
about the words bass, bream, redfish and
sac-au-lait is that they are each plural as
well as singular in form. You don't say "basses"
or "breams". Therefore, I can honestly and
truthfully say we caught bass, bream, redfish,
and sac-au-lait and leave it at that. I don't
need to quantify. Writers are good at such
near-misses with truth. ~ Roger