I have a basic knowledge of fly fishing. I had bought a Cabela’s Three Forks 8wt rod and reel combo in 2011, even before I got into kayak fishing, and it took me a year before I started to use it in the yard to learn to cast. The one time I decided to use it, I lost the last three pieces to a mangrove tree in Grand Isle. So, to supplement the urge to learn, I had zip tied my reel to an old Zebco rod. Basic and noobish, I know, but it was teaching me the basics.
4:45am came a few hours too early, and greeting the shower was like meeting with an ex-girlfriend. I tuned into Fishing Florida Radio for the drive down to Barry’s Marina (or as everyone calls it, the Pointe Aux Chienes Marina), calling in to the show as I rolled down the curves of the serpentine Highway 665. It is always fun to call that great group of goons and talk fishing with them. With wishes of good luck, I signed off the air and arrived to meet club members Dr. Wahoo and DogDad. They were excited to know my plans for the afternoon. Their two Jackson Kayak “Cudas” went in, followed by my battle-scared Heritage, and we set off.
Behind the marina was a sight from Heaven; the canal leading to the back ponds was alive with baitfish, and even the telltale wakes of large reds feeding. I knew this would be the day. Onto the tippet went a black-and-white Clouser minnow I tied myself. I worked the little canal, with no luck. I began to drift into an area of marsh where I could see trout tailing. I had never seen trout do that, and I knew it was a sign from God that I was to get my first fish on the buggy whip.
My maximum casting distance with my jury rigged set up was maybe 20’, right out of range of anything that was feeding. But, on the furthest cast I could muster and just as the Clouser dipped into the water, the VOSI [vertically oriented strike indicator – Ed.] disappeared under the surface of the semi-murky PAC. At first I thought an oyster had caught my fly, but when I stripped the line taut, I felt the tension of a fighting fish at the end! I felt the head of the trout shake, but I could tell it was a dink; it wasn’t pulling enough line to get to the reel, but that was ok. I stripped her almost to the leader, and brought her into the boat.
Hollering and screaming, I began happily to snap pictures of her. After a few snapshots, I sent her on her way. I could see DogDad catching a red or two, and Dr. Wahoo told me some awesome stories about living on the east coast. I fished around until about 8:30am, and headed in. There was an important place I had to go.
One change of clothes and two hours later I was in the parking lot of the Pack and Paddle, the terrific outdoor enthusiast store in Lafayette. An awesome tattooed, bearded, hip-talking salesman - no, friend - named Skip took me by the hand and lead me to the Holy Grail of kayaks. Within forty minutes of getting to the PnP, I was driving away with a Hobie “Outback”.
All in all, it was the finest way to have a final trip in a kayak. The memory of that little trout and that old boat will always be in my mind.