Winter on the waters of the north Gulf of Mexico is a tough
time to chase fish. It can be cold, windy and overcast;
none make it easy to sight fish. It does keep the bugs
down and in Louisiana that alone can make a trip fun.
Ron (Maxi) Mumm and I braved all the above and even
caught some fish.
It was not like we just needed to break the boring winter up
as Maxi was in New Orleans for a wedding and a convention and
I was just back from one in Tucson and another in D.C. We
wedged this trip in after Maxi said he needed a couple of
days to detoxify before heading back home to Atlanta. He
said I could pick him up at the biggest hotel on Canal Street
and even gave me a verbal map of some completeness since I
had never driven downtown NO before. Four hours to get me
there and then 30 minutes to get "unlost" as in the ten pages
of directions there is one "right" where a "left" was most
critical. Cell phones are wonderful inventions at times like
He felt so bad about me not "reading my map right" that he took
me to a bar owned by a friend to help me get unwound. After this
stop we needed to get out of town and find a room at the Navy
base south of town. Many streets, at two knots, and a stop at
an Orvis shop got us all the way to a Hooter's, as Maxi needed
a beer fix. I was not sure how he was going to detoxify but
obviously it was not going to be a sharp drop off in consumption.
Here we met "bubble brains" the waitperson. She was a master
of putting on make-up and her pop-up bra but talk was nearly
a task too hard for her. She had a tape deck on her hip and
when asked what she was listening to, she let me listen:
"breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out." Good stuff,
had a beat to live by.
This day with Maxi started at 2 PM. It was about six by the
time we got our room squared away and then we set out to find
a place to eat dinner.
The next day the fishing part started. We met the guide from
last year's story, Captain Kirby LaCour, to be exact, at the
same place thirty years south of New Orleans. It was again
a half-hour before sun up but something was different this
time. It took a second to realize there were no bugs. Last
year you started losing blood when the door opened. Of course,
it was rather cool too. Kirby was almost the same talking and
telling jokes non-stop for most of the day. In the winter the
bug intake is low when the mouth is open compared to summertime.
Cold and overcast with plenty of wind meant it was tough seeing
fish. Maxi pulled out his only rod at his first turn and discovered
he had packed the wrong one to go with the reel he brought. Kirby
had one and I had three so he had tools to play with. So much for
being fully prepared, this was not "Maxi like at all." He had,
although, done a lot of practice with the rod, and obviously in
the wind somewhere. The "wind was his friend," and he was throwing
better than I was most of the day. Too bad he did not have his own
rod. We chased reds all over the place but usually saw them about
the same time they saw us. We had a couple of trout by lunch and
Kirby had one of those with the only cast he threw all day.
Late in the afternoon after lots of casting and no takers, Maxi
hooked into a fish that turned out to be a flounder. Kirby took
us back for another pass at that place and Maxi hooked into a
nice redfish…his first. We had the usual 'dance of the virgin'
and then he hooked into another one. I about threw out my arm
but never got into one that day and those two were all Maxi got.
We got in after dark so we had plenty of chances and were dialed
in with wind casting.
That long day took plenty out of us and we went to a place to eat
Mexican food. Finding food back in the big town made us miss all
the culture of the south country. They did not even have fried
water on the menus up north. The food was tremendous and we called
it a night. Kirby wanted us there even earlier as the second half
of duck season was going to open and also it was a Saturday.
The ramp would be packed.
It was. In finding the last parking spot in a mile I wedged in
a tight spot. Maxi popped out of his side and almost disappeared
in a mud puddle. The fact that the nose of the truck did a big
dip when passing through it had not registered on him. Mud up to
his butt, he grumbled at me for the next half-hour.
It had cleared up as the front passed and it looked like it might
be a banner day. Of course, fish hate to bite right after a front
passed. Kirby took us on a half-hour boat ride at 40 MPH in the
dark to get clear of the heavy hunting area. When he stopped, he
said, "throw anything in the box, you will catch fish here." Maxi
took the front and lost a couple bites right off. I was forced
to use the back of the boat, a place much harder to work from,
as Maxi was hogging the front end. I tossed around both Kirby
and Maxi whenever I had an opening and got two reds on my first
two casts. There were several more near hookups before Kirby
announced that this place was done for the day; we moved.
The sun came out for a bit but the wind was doing about 20 knots
out of the north. The water was way down and it was cold (probably
about 55 degrees for you northerners). We saw many fish but
nothing was eating. At noon Kirby decided to anchor and re-rig.
Ron asked him about some casting techniques and we ended up getting
an hour's worth of the finest fly-line handling in the world.
Kirby is a real master, bar none. I have seen one other that
could nearly clean a spool upwind but he fishes out of Key West
where it is even windy in the bars. We got coached in roll
casting and up wind tossing until we could do it.
The afternoon was more of the same frustration of the day prior
as the clouds rolled back in and we lost our sight through the
water. Maxi needed to be off the water early to catch a flight
home and Kirby needed to be at a birthday party for his youngest
so we worked back toward the launch little by little. When we
were about there, he took a right turn down a man-made canal
with a dike that held back the waters from farmland full of
cows. In sight of the ramp he said someone had told him that
"between 2:15 and 3:15 the day before this place was 'wild.'"
We thought, "you bet," but the casting was off the wind and we
only had a few minutes left. It had been a fair trip for winter
but we could try once more. A good guide never gives up. I was
up front and the second or third toss had a small red take it.
He was not at all golden like the others but almost silver/brown.
He hit like a rock. I got him in and Maxi got one on the first
cast he made. I jumped up and took one on my second cast. Maxi
got one on his first again. It slowed down slightly but we both
got one more and lost a few in the process. So, six fish in about
twenty minutes made the day. Kirby was sweating out the success
of the trip and was visibly relieved taking us to the ramp in time
to make the airport run. His reputation was saved. We were
wondering why we drove all over hell and back when the fish
were nesting by the ramp.
Fishing is not always "catching" and two days with a friend like
Maxi and a guide like Kirby would have been well worth it without
fish. With fish, under these conditions, it had to be considered
a real treat. My drive home was uneventful and Maxi wrote
immediately asking about a rod/reel set up for his son. I
think I will have lots more time on the water with both of them.
~ Capt. Scud Yates