Two hours after my crusted eyes peeped into the darkness, I arrived at Campo's Marina in the Shell Beach/Hopedale area. Hobies were dotting the parking lot as far as the eye could see, as Outcast XIX was ready to kick off!
I joined my buddy Thomas and his friend Kenny at the start, but we parted as they decided to fish the rocks not far from the launch. I had my sights set on fishing the cuts and ponds where I knew the reds would be lurking. Drifting into this alien marsh, I found the place alive with local fauna. Grey ducks dusted off from their positions, marsh hens stalked the bank, and even the dreaded nutria swam in the clear, grassy water. At my first spot, a live shrimp, a Jenny’s Jigs “Shiney Hiney” jighead, and a popping cork were too much for the first rat red of the day to resist!
Paddling further into the heart of Cajun Country, I dove into the splendor and peace that Mother Nature decided to give me. That is, until I came to the entrance of a pond. There must have been a deep cut in the channel, as red after red decided to “give me some pull,” as Dimebag Darrell (RIP) once said. Two more rats, and then bam!
The rod doubled over, the drag screamed, and I laughed like you wouldn’t believe! The thirty-plus inch redfish took two hands to net, and made me feel like I was on top of the world! (NOTE: Before anyone jumps my bones about grabbing her by the eyes, please understand that I had the full intention of eating her, and that is the ONLY reason I used that grip)
Now, some may think that was my favorite red of this trip, but I managed to snag me a little leopard before the bite went cold - a four-spotted red-backed slab!
I poled and paddled about, trying to find a trout bite. Not finding one, I decided to rest for a bit. I found the BCKFC president and shared a few words with him. He had been catching dink trout all day (as everyone but me seemed to be), and couldn't really find the reds. I pointed him in the direction of my hole, and fished around an island close to the rocky wall. Three more rat reds greeted me eagerly, and then the amazing happened. Even as the cork was being pulled down, I could tell this wasn't a redfish. The way the finned fiend fought, it was as though it was a massive trout. But as she sprang from the water like Moby Dick, I was thrown into a combination of confusion, shock, and laughter.
Yeah son - largemouth bass! Oh, man, it was absolutely amazing! Even though I came in last in the tournament (again), it was an experience I will never forget. I think I have a new favorite fishing spot!
About the Author: Dustin "Venom" Schouest is a life long fisherman who is just rediscovering the beauty of the sport, along with a love of all things plasticy boat. An ex-alcoholic and shutterbug extraordinaire, he loves fishing the marshes of his native Louisiana. When he isn't chasing specklebacks or spottails, he is watching fishing shows or editing photos/video.