Anytime there is an extended weekend, I try to take advantage of it to fish. I had been keeping an eye on MLK weekend, figuring I could get a 2 day trip out of it. Watching the forecast it started looking like Sunday/Monday would offer a window of clear skies between the passing fronts. On Monday prior I sent a text to Lurgee letting him know I wanted to fish. He went through Herculean efforts on the home front and with work to shake himself loose to join me on MLK Day.
Sunday morning I was up early, and for southern boys it was cold
I hit the road, 20 minutes into the 3 hour drive I stopped at a place that has a good breakfast sandwich. They use the same kind of artificial pork rib, lips and assholes patti that McDonalds uses on the McRib, but they actually grill theirs and they are wonderful little nuggets of horrible goodness on a bun. When I stopped I couldn't find my wallet, I searched myself and the truck and figured I had left it on the counter at home so I had to turn around. Once at the house I still couldn't find the wallet, eventually I realized that I had set it in my boat while loading fried chicken in the ice chest. Finally I was back on the road but running 45 minutes later than I wanted to be. On the drive I looked at the sky and noticed that the moon was a mere sliver, that and north winds would mean low water.
I got to the launch with the sun climbing in clear skies, paid the lady at the ramp and took off. I ran to a spot that I love to start at and could see that the water looked like shit, I kept running and it was quickly obvious that the whole south end and the main bay were muddy so I pointed the bow north. I made a long run to a spot I had done well on recently. The water was fishable but not great. I worked it for a while and it wasn't happening, I made a move and found water that looked a little better. After poling about a quarter mile of bank I blew out a couple of black drum, the looked over to my right and saw a big fish in the water...just color really, wasn't sure what it was. I tossed the fly and by the way the fish moved to eat I was pretty sure it was a red, the line came tight and a huge red head broke the surface of the water. Simply by sheer weight the fish fought ok, but it was sluggish from the cold water. Finally I got it in the net and it topped 32 pounds
That was a good way to get the skunk out of the boat. The rest of the day I struggled. I found good water and really a lot of fish in a few places but I was off my game. Fishing solo on a windy day is tough when I'm at my best, but I was finding ways to fuck up. Later in the day I made one last move into a shallow bay and found really clear water and a lot of fish. I got a few eats, pulling the fly away from some, breaking off one and getting one more pretty nice fish to the boat.
After I landed that fish I checked the time, I hadn't looked at it all day and figured it was a little after 1 PM. It was actually 3:15. I wanted to get back to the hotel to watch the Saints so I hauled ass and made the 40 minute run back in. That evening I sat at the bar, ate a shrimp poor boy and went from elation to misery watching the worst ever ending to a football game. Shortly after the game ended, Lurgee showed up. He had flown from Houston to New Orleans then rented a car and drove down to the marsh to fish for one day.
Monday was MLK Day. We were up early and ready to go. Since the clean water was all way up north we made a drive and launched further north. It was quickly apparent that the water was close to a foot lower than it was the day prior (and it was low that day).
The water clarity however had improved considerably overnight. We started out fishing spots where I had found fish the day prior, but with the lower water the fish weren't present. We hit 3 spots before running up to the shallow bay where I had finished on Sunday and it was so shallow we came very near to getting stranded in there, my pucker factor was high.
Lurgee got that hat to blend in with the locals.
At this point it was getting close to 10am and I felt awful. Lurgee had gone through a hell of a lot of trouble and expense to get there and I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to find fish for him. After escaping the shallow bay I called an audible and made a run to a small bay I've never fished. It doesn't have a name on the map so it will now be known as MLK Bay.
We worked a short stretch of bank and got to the mouth of a small shallow bayou, there in the middle of where the bayou met the flat, right where he should have been, there was a nice fish casually working. Lurgee made a good cast and the fish did what it should and ate.
There is a strange phenomenon when sight fishing redfish in shallow water. They almost always get bigger closer to the boat. When lurgee made the cast, I was thinking it was a 10-12 pound fish. Turns out it was over 17 pounds.
We switched off and after blowing a couple of shots I had my first fish of the day before we even left the mouth of that bayou.
And so it went... we were in the fish and catching pretty consistently. We also honored the day by celebrating diversity
At one point we were in the fish so thick that the person on the front of the boat would hook up, while fighting the fish another would come into view so we would rush to land the first fish, unhook and release it as fast as we could so we could get a cast off at the second fish. This happened 3 or 4 times.
By the end of the day we had put 16 or 17 fish in the boat and had a great time doing it. Over the last several years I've had the great fortune of building a good friendship with Lurgee. He's a really good angler and an even better dude. I hope not so much time passes before we are in a boat again.
P.S. Apparently it's still impossible to catch fish out of a Carolina Skiff.
"Put in the effort and good things happen"... Hogleg
"Salinity is proportional to sanity for sure" ..The Volfish