The Unicorn Wrangler was in state visiting family and found time to come to the coast. We had bulls on the mind. The plan was to meet up in Lafayette Friday afternoon and drive toward the gulf, a room for the night, then fishing in the morning. I let the Unicorn Wrangler know that unlike unicorns, bulls don't eat clouds and poop rainbows. Bulls eat coal and shit fire.
As we drew closer to the weekend the forecast deteriorated a bit. Predicted sunny skies turned into overcast, 6 mile an hour winds became 9. We got on the water, and the first thing we saw slicing a wake across the surface wasn't a fish, but a coyote on a marathon swim
With a blanket of clouds blotting out the sun, and a steady wind from the north I had to make a call. Initially the plan was to head for the edge for the best shot at bulls, but overcast skies make spotting fish in somewhat deeper water difficult. I called an audible and decided to stay inside, fish the high percentage spots where bulls sometimes showed up, but also have the option of working shallow banks for slot fish. Running down the bayou the water was pretty clear and moving out at a good clip, we took a turn into a cut that pulls water from the bayou and dumps it on a flat. As we drew near where the cut brought deeper, clean water onto the flat I told the wrangler to keep his eyes peeled. He did, and soon a fish slid into view near the boat, we saw it at the same time and before I could say anything he had a fly in front of the fish and the fish lurched to eat the fly. I grinned enjoying having an angler with good eyes and quick reflexes on the front of the boat. He leaned into it
Soon he had the big fish at the boat. His first bull ever and a great way to start a day, it was barely after 7am
While visibility was limited because of cloud cover, we were fortunate that the water was clear, working west on a long bank the wrangler saw a big tail wave up ahead, well out of casting range. The best visibility we had in the morning light was to our right, I slid the boat left to make sure that whatever had tailed would be to our right where we might see it. Soon it materialized at 3 o'clock about 35 feet out, unmistakably a black drum. The wrangler delivered a good cast, stripped twice and the drum ate aggressively.
After the black drum's release I pushed us up to where the flat shallowed up drastically with many exposed oysters. As expected there were many slot sized fish milling around, pushing and cruising. The wrangler couldn't quite get the fly at the right spot in front of the right fish so we decided to move on. We decided to stay focused on high percentage area's and not spend a lot of time working featureless banks. We would work a protected bank with a drain or oyster bar, then slip back into deeper water, crank and move to the next high percentage spot. We were working where a good sized cut came out of a protected bank. We were seeing some nice sized fish pushing and poled in pursuit of a fish that was tailing. The wrangler made a throw but this fish wasn't having it and pushed off. I looked far out to our left and saw a much happier fish tailing slowly along a bank down wind from us. I told Ben about the fish and slowly pushed us toward it. Finally I quietly told Ben "take the shot whenever your comfortable with it", as soon as the words crossed my lips he had the fly line in the air and delivered a 55 foot cast, landing the fly perfectly 2 feet to the left of the tailing fish. The fish turned on the fly and ate it on the fall before Ben could even strip it. It was another bull, duplicate in weight of the first at 23 pounds. It was still only 8:30
For as well as Ben was dong on the bulls, the punes challenged him. I pushed us through more very shallow oyster ridden area that teemed with slot sized redfish, be he couldn't get the right connection, or when he did he'd have the fish on for a few then get a long distance release. Finally, working the bank of a slough a fish pushed off the port side of the boat, Ben put the fly in front of the wake and was rewarded with a 9 pound red. He picked up one more slot fish and hooked and lost several more.
We worked onto a flat along the edge of a lake and a large fish was up in the shallows with his back out of the water. The fish was so shallow that he was almost stuck and wallowing to try to work his way to slightly deeper water. Ben made a couple of cast, but the fish seemed to feel distressed and wasn't looking for food. He finally was able to work his way into enough water to move along, leaving both of us shaking our head at the idea of a fish that big moving into water that shallow.
Most of what I fish, I like to fish at lower water levels, the end of the falling through the beginning of the rising tide. I have one spot however that fishes better at higher water levels with the water coming in. I generally save this as the last spot to hit on trips and did the same today. Ben and I made the run to the spot and stopped and staked out on it's margins to eat a snadwich. After eating we started poling down the narrow flat, and in a short period of time had blown out 3 bulls. We moved into a cove along the edge of the flat, Ben took a couple more shots at uncooperative smaller fish, then I looked up at 3 o'clock and saw this pile of oysters just off of the bank
Except that when I looked there was a large red back sticking up high above the water between those oysters and the bank behind them, and the tail of the fish sticking up about 2 and a half feet behind the exposed back. "Ben, there's a fish on the bank at 3 o'clock" I said calmly, trying not to induce a case of big fish nerves, "yep and it's a big one" Ben said, not worrying about subtlety. The fish moved right and pulled off of the bank a little, Ben made a couple of throws and got the fly in front of the fish. He crushed it and it was game on.
The fish had a big motor
We had one more shot at a big tailing fish but he didn't play. On the drive home we stopped to buy some bounty of the coast.
Landing 3 bulls, a double digit black drum and a couple of slot sized redfish under cloudy skies is a pretty darn good day. Ben is a fine angler, and today did what many wouldn't have been able to do. He see's fish, cast well and puts the wood to them when hooked. He's also a great friend and good company in the boat. Come back soon my friend.[/report]
"Put in the effort and good things happen"... Hogleg
"Salinity is proportional to sanity for sure" ..The Volfish
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