Friday, October 10, 2014

The Squall...

I'll start off by apologizing to the handful of readers for the apparent hiatus. I spent a few days more than two straight months offshore working. My work season isn't completely through but it has been slowing a little.

In recent days I have finally made it home and had a chance to get back to the water. The plan started out innocently enough out of a need to upgrade my trout and flounder for the Cajun Grand Slam Tournament going on right now. I'd convinced a buddy of mine to play hooky from his morning gig and promised to have him back to the house by 4pm and be on time for his evening job. The weather seemed nice enough to make a trip to West Cove before it's shut down for the next six months. The plan was to make it to some reefs for sunrise and be clicking topwaters over slick calm conditions only to be interrupted by angry trout.

We were unloading and rigging kayaks an hour before sunrise in the midst of a mosquito swarm that I can only describe as horrendous. I've encountered a fair share of bugs in my travels but this morning was up there with the worst. In a half hurried panic, assisted by the headlights of my car, we threw everything in the boats and hoped to out-pedal the bugs by getting to open water. We kicked into open water and found absolutely no relief in the cove. The cloud of bugs around us were now hitchhikers. We made the 30 minute trip to our spot constantly swatting bugs and just praying for the wind to pick up to welcome some relief.

When we arrived at the spot, the bugs were still feasting on us, but it was only half forgotten as I landed a few respectable sized trout that attempted to eat a pink/chrome she-dog. There were a few extra swats but only about six trout in the cooler in an hours time. A few of the redfish shorelines didn't pan out. The current was rolling at the point the wind picked up a few mph and we both agreed it was time to try and find some flounder.
We got the Gulp! out and were in a few holes in the marsh when a doormat decided he wanted to inhale my shrimp lure. It was a fish I could use for the tourney and I was pumped up about finding him. A few more spots produced nothing so we decided it was time to go in search of the redfish we know patrol the back marshes of the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge.
We didn't make it 100 feet before a small island looked too nice not to throw at. We were both met with immediate redfish smashing our top waters. The territory was familiar and we were rolling right along picking up reds anywhere we saw shrimp jumping. Alden managed to pick up a nice 20"+ marsh trout in the process. Things were looking up when we realized we only had about an hour to make it back to the car to be home on time. We were about two miles away from the launch so we decided to start fishing our way back. 
The winds were set up nicely to blow us back in when we turned a corner into an open bay, and saw a front of clouds that looked angry. We really hadn't noticed the ominous front simply because of how fast it was moving. All day alden had joked that he had forgot his rain gear, and we now joked about it as we figured we may get a little wet. My attention was averted from the jokes when I say a swirl near a bank and landed another nice fat redfish. We immediately made the decision to head back because we realized the black clouds were rolling in quick. 
We hadn't made it another 100 yards when Alden yelled out "LOOK! To your left!". I didn't see anything but he came around me and told me to throw where he was. His she-dog barely had time on the water before it was engulfed by another redfish. I threw into the same spot with the same result. This is where the day took a turn for the worse. 

In the time it takes to fight and land these fish the front was upon us. There was a wall of wind that came down the marsh and immediately started blowing 30+mph and kicking up a two foot chop. My fish was in my net resting on my lap. The wind had tangled the line around my hat and the treble hooks were hooked in the net, the fish, and my pants. Getting blown sideways I was thankful for the stability of the Slayer Propel. In a moments time I'd heard Alden let out a "whoop" and seen himself and his kayak turtling over. 

I couldn't contain my laughter as he stood up and started collecting everything that wasn't strapped down to the boat. He was calling out for help but I was useless given the fish in my boat situation. I cut my line and threw the fish in my cooler. I grabbed his tackle bag that had been floating towards me and when he got back in his boat we both agreed that our fishing day was over. 
At this point we had a howling headwind about a mile and a half to go before we were safe. We made the remark that, "at least it's not raining", all too soon. We were laughing and pedaling as hard as we can into the chop and barely making headway. Alden's voice took a grave turn when he said "I think my boat is sinking, there is defenitely more water in the hull". Something he had mentioned, but shrugged off earlier in the morning. We pulled over the the marsh grass, jumped right in and pulled the boats up. There was no less than ten gallons of water inside the hull of the Hobie. We went about bailing it out in the driving rain that had now moved over us. 
We paddle back out into the weather when the visibility dropped to about 75 feet. This was bad because I was using the only landmark, the telephone poles on hwy 27 as my navigation tool. We were still laughing at the ridiculous situation we'd put ourselves into once again. The driving rain was stinging and we joked "at least there is no lightning!", again too soon. I'd only hoped that we were still going the right direction when the worst part of the storm had gotten over us. There was no way we could keep going and Alden had a feeling the boat was filling up again. We pulled over to the closest marsh island we could find in the fog and hunkered down. The lightning was crashing around us and we were waist deep in the grass and puckered up like never before.
After about fifteen minutes of laying in the mud the storm started to pass. We hightailed it into the steady 20mph headwind but at this point it was manageable. The current and chop was still kicking and what should have been a twenty minute trip in took us every bit if 45 to make it back to the landing. We once again joked that it would probably be warm and sunny when we got back to the dock and people would ask us "Did you get caught in that storm?", once again, all too soon. We loaded up and realized that things had gone from happy to sad and back again all in the span of an hour and a half. Our ordeal with the squall was behind us as we started our drive home only about thirty minutes later than anticipated.
To sweeten our deal, we got halted up about 200 yards from a previous accident on I-10 that had slowed traffic. They decided to STOP thru-traffic once the HAZMAT team arrived on the scene. We sat in the car, stuck on the highway for the better part of three hours. Alden never made it to work like i'd promised. But as we both know, when him and I get together, nothing works out as planned. We joked once again that fishing trips are all about making memories. This is a day neither of us will soon forget. I've rushed the writing on this story because of other obligations and sheer inattention. But this one had to be at least be summarized lest I forget the finer details down the road. Til next time...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad your back!!
Love reading your blog.