The problem with fishing this year has nothing to do with
the fish. It is the economy
stupid! Gas causes
second thoughts about driving anywhere and the food and
just about everything else is more too. Let's hope we make
it through this election year and the "majority in congress" gets
over trying to make us think all is in the crapper so they can get
in power. Oh well, the fish do not know we are all feeling poor.
They are just playing around waiting to make us happy. I just
got back from two days that made me very happy.
Rich Waldner called when the weather for the next couple days
was perfect and he had no charters. I still jumped in my truck
and drove over, as he does not call unless he thinks a great day
will be missed. I now drive at ten MPH less and accept a twenty
minute longer trip saving me about three gallons of gas. When he
calls, I go, even having to get out of bed from a mild sickness.
Sometimes a fish pulling on the line is better than anything for healing.
After five hours on the road and a massive traffic jam in New
Orleans, we finally got on the water about 0930. It was hot and
humid, 88 degrees by 88% at first cast. There had been
an oil spill on the Mississippi River a week before and the siphons
were turned off. There are two of these massive drains from the
river designed to spread out the muddy water over the flats to help
stop the land loss to Louisiana which is estimated at a hundred acres
a day. Anyway, the dirty water turned off means the flats we fish
turn clear as gin. The poor redfish, very gold from being in the sun
so much, are hardly hidden against the black mud and green weeds.
They stand out like Budweiser signs in the middle of a dark night.
Our run to fishing was about five minutes from the ramp and I had
a fish on in about ten minutes. Summer fish are not monsters but this
little six pound bronze beauty was really neat. In fifteen tics more I
had a sheepshead and a black drum, what we have dubbed the "Bill slam"
after a friend we fish with who seems to do this pretty often. The green
scum of summer adorned the water so I was using Rich's clean little
spoon fly. Another red jumped on my line five minutes later and then
out of a small bayou we were polling past came a school of four fish
with a big one leading the pack. My first cast was close to the big guy
but he passed it and a smaller fish turned on the spoon. I pulled it out
of his mouth and tossed again out in front of the big guy. He changed
directions and a second little one showed interest. Leaving the fly in
the water, as another cast would be too short, I maneuvered the fly
out of the little guy’s range and pulled it past the tail of the big fish and
up over its' shoulder. He grabbed it at his nose with a mighty flare of gills.
The fight was on starting from ten feet in front of the boat with Rich
"whooping" like a lottery winner. Rich screams when he gets excited
adding to the explosion when the "take" happens. The fish was in
about ten inches of water and ran out about seventy feet before I
could stop him. The second run was less and he was landed after a
four or five minute fight. The fish topped 13 pounds and was as bronze
as the liberty bell shined for the 4th of July. Pictures can be seen
I could feel the 90 degrees in my weakened condition. With five fish
and feeling dizzy with every up and down from the platform, I offered
Rich the front of the boat. I often get him to catch a few as I can poll
his boat as part of my skill set. Only a few of his fishermen are capable
and then he is hard to talk into fishing. At the front he is most exciting
to watch. Fish do not stand much of a chance with his speed and
accuracy. But, with all the fish he has caught, there is nobody who
gets more joy or shows more excitement. He shows off a big fish
like an eight year-old girl her first bra.
I fished on and the already soft breeze slacked to zero. The heat
index rocketed to about a 150 and there were few clouds to offer
shade. I caught another nice fish and then the tide slacked off to
match the winds. We had an hour and a half throwing at fish that
just wouldn’t bite. Without moving water this can happen. I put the
fly almost in the mouths of a couple fish and they did not run away
just shrugged and meandered off. Early afternoon a little water
movement started although the wind still had my shirt sticking to
my skin with sweat. I was not feeling good at all and could not
catch up on water no matter how many pints I slammed down.
The fish started smashing a well placed fly and then started chasing
down "near-by" placements. That means I was not getting very close
as my condition got worse. I had asked Rich to fish several more
times but stopped offering when I did not think I could stand on the
Getting Rich to quit fishing and to go in early has history. It is hard
to do. I have missed flights with him saying, "I have one more spot
I started with saying I was going to die if we did not leave soon. "Soon,"
should not have been used in the request. That gave him an out. It was two
PM and he started the, "
a quick look this wall and then we leave"
statement. This led to another push across a pond to another wall and then
another. I think, when I did not see or throw at a couple of fish and almost
fell off he front end when he pushed a little more than softly, he finally could
pick up I was not going to live much longer. We went in at three
new outdoor record on a day when the fifteen fish I caught would have surely
been up to thirty if I had not chickened out. Death was looming, a mere heart
attack would not have been enough.
Rich took it well and jumped on his lawn mower and did four hours
of yard work with the free time. I had a nap and then a salad at the
Plantation with Foster and was in bed sleeping at 7 PM. I did call
Rich and tell him I thought I would be ready in the morning if he would
forgive me for wimping out. He said he would be by at 0600.
We started polling at 0645. At 0655 I had the first fish. Not a big
one but surely a nice way to start. By the time the sun angle got high
enough to see fish at fifty feet, I already had a half dozen. The clouds
showed up but so did a little wind and it was from the north. It was
still over 90 by noon but the humidity was down and the wind up to
ten MPH. I was feeling just fine and had nine fish from six to eight
pounds. Rich would not fish yet.
Our plan was to move for the second half of the day so Rich could
check out the "outside" where the fish could be bigger. We went
back to the launch and pulled the boat out and drove to another place
twenty miles away. The ride out showed us the outside was not going
to be all that clean water wise, but we did get out from under the clouds.
If the visibility is good, fish can be found in murky water
We stopped and polled two flats and saw nothing. The third flat and an
hour later Rich pulled us into a "honey hole" that "always pays off." On
the way in a giant fish popped its' back up ten feet from us and while I was
trying to impress it with the spoon, almost hit the boat and wondered off to
the stern. I got the spoon in front of the nose several times. With bigger fish
I prefer throwing bigger flies. Rich has some but I have a crab fly with white
and bright green art fur. There is no green slime outside so fouling the fly is
not a problem. I missed the next big fish that did the same trick, charging the
boat. Rich took off around the shallow pond and we went a half hour without
seeing another fish. At the far end of the pond we crossed over toward the
far bank and right in the middle we flushed a big red and hooked him up. A
short fight and big relief we put a fifteen pound fish in the boat. The fish were
in the middle of the pond and we could not see them in the murky water. I
got two more nice ones in about fifteen minutes, both out in the deeper water.
We had killed the first one I caught for dinner thinking we might not get another.
It looked like we would not catch the smaller size desired or, any, and might have
had to cook something else after promising his dad a fish dinner.
With a dozen fish for me, Rich finally accepted the front of the boat. I
polled us right up the middle of the pond and he had one on in minutes.
He tried to put me back up but I was firmly in control and told him he
was just lucky with one fish and one cast. So to show me, he got two
more with two more casts. I was intrigued and challenged him to keep
that up. He finally missed a first cast but got tight on the second. Still
not a bad average but while he was fooling around with the forth fish;
there was another showing his back along the bank within range. He
got straightened out and started on the "crawler." I think he got the fly,
his spoon, in front of this fish a bunch of times and the fish ignored him
completely. I really think it was one we had already caught. He was
not right and remembered what had already ruined his day. That being
hard to confirm, Rich’s average had gone to poop. I encouraged him to
keep on fishing and he insisted his limit was one and he had four days limit
already. I prevailed and he got two more with about two casts each with
trips back through the center of the pond. His last fish was a classic on
our way out of the pond. Rich said there would be a fish in a little side
pond from the canal and I put the nose of the boat right where he requested.
Up popped a fish like a pheasant in from of a pointer. One cast and he
had it. I did let him up on the back tower but it was also about 4 PM.
Rich pushed me for another forty-five minutes and I had several shots
without hooking up. It was already a twelve hour day and when I said
I had enough, Rich agreed
"First ever." I guess a half dozen of
his own fish makes it seem like a full day to him
along with twelve
hours. We had about twenty fish between us for the day.
Dinner, even with the larger fish on the grill, was still most excellent.
Rich's dad holds his own at the table at 94 years young. He makes
you feel good about bring him a fish now and then, or a good bottle
There was no sickness left in my body after this day. Rich claims he "sweated
it out of me" the day before. I think the Salem dunkers of witches felt the same
about the rare survivor. I still come when Rich calls and will get out of a
sickbed the next time, too. Aug 2008 ~ Captain Scud Yates