Saturday, May 24, 2014

Murphy's Marsh...

Have you ever felt like the forces that be are trying to stop you from making that trip you have really high hopes for? This is my story...

Me and a few buddies had casually talked about making a two day fishing trip to Grand Isle about a week ago. Everything was looking up until the day before we were to leave. My car had one of those annoying blinking lights on for a few days and it was my first day I'd had to take care of business for a week or so. I called my mechanic and he quickly said "DON'T DRIVE IT!! Call you insurance company and see if they'll have it towed here". I trust my mechanic, so I did just that. My hope was it was some computer error and i'd have it back before nightfall. That didn't happen. This left me scrambling at the final hours before we left, calling friends and trying to cash in some favors and borrow a vehicle that can tow my trailer full of kayaks.

At this point one of my buddies who had committed to go had to bail because of work. A random phone call from another friend who was just coming in from offshore said "Hell Yeah! Count me in! We can take my truck". So things were good again until at 10pm he called me and said he had to cancel because of a last minute meeting the next morning. He was kind enough to let us borrow his truck though.

So we're down to two people the next morning but no big deal. Loaded and out the door headed for Hwy1 before 5:30am. The first days plan was to launch off the side of the road near Leeville at a spot that had been good to me last year for PaddlePalooza. We put in by 8:30 and I'd hoped the bad juju was behind me and nothing but tailing reds and hungry trout ahead. As we went through the marsh I was a little discouraged with the look of the area. Muddy, mostly stagnant water in most of the areas I was paddling through. I kept heading west in hopes of finding cleaner water.

The marsh had yet to produce a bite for me but it was still early. I came to a large navigation canal and saw some huge splashes on the opposite bank. It was so violent and large I knew it couldn't be any kind of fish I was after. It turned out to be a pair of dolphins. Cruising the marshes either lost or in search of a spotted meal. Fishermen may be the only people in the world slightly urked at the sight of them in the water. For this means that our target species are most likely headed for safe waters away from the bottle-nosed predators.
Lucky for me only a few minutes later, my pink/chrome She Dog went under at the first blowup from a nice redfish. At this point I was happy just to bag a fish and hoped things would get better. There was a nice long sheltered shoreline I was paddling across and saw a small redfish slithering through the grass along the edges. There was no way to put a cast in there so I took it as a good sign and ducked into the next cove adjacent to that spot. In a few minutes a redfish appeared on the bank, laid up next to a shallow mudflat. My soft plastic landed on the mud and dropped right off the bank he was sitting on and he inhaled it. I reeled down to feel pressure and reared back to set the hook like usual. Not sure what broke first, the knot, the leader, or the tip of my brand new Falcon Coastal XG. As the rod loaded and swung back, it smacked my fly rod sticking up behind me and broke off about 6" of the tip section. My brand new 7'6" was now a slightly less sensitive 7 footer.
Winds were low so I decided to switch over to the fly rod now that the sun was up. After a few false casts to shoot some line and get warmed up I'd hoped to see a few more reds in the area. A shadow appeared a few minutes later and I got the merkin crab flying. A few strips later and I figured it was either a mirage or an oyster bed. I picked up the rod tip to make one more cast when it hung up on something and loaded the rod awkwardly and sent the fly line back at me like a spider web. the fly dug into my pants leg and the fly line was tangled up on everything it could in the boat and around me. There was eight wraps around my spin rod and a complete double wrap around my neck and body. It was exactly as a sunday comics illustrator would draw it for a laugh.

Needless to say I put the fly rod away after a few minutes jumping through loops and cursing the name of many inanimate objects. A light went off in my head as I remembered that I had a rod tip replacement kit in my first aid kit. I found a spare tip and a tube of super glue and went to work on my Falcon rod. As I attempted to put a dab of super glue into the spare tip, I realized there was super glue running dripping everywhere. There was a hole in the tube of glue and the entire tube was now in the palm of my right hand. I did my best to get some onto the tip of the rod and seal off the repaired tip while simultaneously trying not to glue my fingers to themselves. Somehow, I managed to not glue myself to anything as I looked up and simply said, "really?".

The rest of the day was uneventful, even for fish, Caught a few more dink trout and rat reds and was loading up by 5:30 pm. Brian and I checked into our room at Boudreauxs and I went about cleaning fish while Brian went in search of pizza. Shower, dinner, a cold beer and we were both ready to crash. My sleep lasted until midnight when a neuron fired off and woke me up with a nagging suspicion. I had taken out my fishing tool kit to get my wallet upon check in. My brain told me I had left it on the trailer and forgot to put it up. I'd driven around the bumpy parking lot and to the corner store and knew I couldn't get back to sleep without checking where it was. So there I was, midnight, in my underwear walking around the parking lot looking for a lost tupperware container. I can't imagine what I looked like or what I would have said to someone who asked what I was doing. And yes, the tool box was gone. Along with my SOG multitool, bug spray, first aid and toilet paper.

Morning came faster than sleep did and we were off to the far side of Fourchon towards the Thunder Bayou area. The bugs were tame save for a few biting gnats and horseflies as we paddled south towards a tidal flat that looked good on a windless morning. The sounds of gentle crashing waves from the Gulf of Mexico were in the distance, unfortunately the flat was far too shallow to produce any fish like i'd hoped. A few pictures snapped and a text sent and I was going back to the north side of the road where some marsh would be. 
A 20 minute paddle after some google map searching led me to the start of what would be a frustrating morning. The reds were few and far between and only to be found near exposed oyster beds. Paddling further and further north had led me to some mangrove filled areas unlike anywhere I've ever seen in Louisiana. Putting together the puzzle for the day I'd figured out that most of the fish were hanging out in the first islands downwind of the open bays. I'd seen a few floating bulls lazily cruising in the calm waters but couldn't get them to eat. My flies were presented properly as well as my soft plastics, but they seemed uninterested. 
The rest of the day went down in much of the same fashion. A few over slot reds here and there but defenitely not nonstop action. Murphy struck one more time on the paddle back to the car. Another dink trout had hit the matrix shad dragging behind me and a quick ruler check confirmed that he was undersized. I put him back and was content with what the day had brought me. The corner of my eye was catching something after a few minutes and I realized the big fish ruler i'd just made was now at the bottom of Caminada Bay. Just another punch and I made landfall without making another cast. Even to some clearly visible redfish in some duck ponds on the way back. 
All in all it was a good learning and exploratory trip. It ended up costing me a few dollars in replacement gear and this and that, but hey, c'est la vie. The next trip down there I will have that much more information on where to go and NOT to go. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to make a trip to the store to replace some gear for the next outing. I'm not sure if anyone actually reads long stories like this one anymore. So if you've hung on this long, sorry for the longhand. Maybe i'll keep it short and simple next time. But maybe next time i'll have more pictures and good things to talk about. It's summer time, see you on the water.

1 comment:

Glen said...

Oh no, this one was definitely meant for the long version, lol. You are not alone, we've all been there.