That man was me. I attempted to get off the couch at 4 a.m. with the others, but the beer, excitement, and worry about making a good showing at a competition of over 270 other anglers was enough to drain every drop of energy from my tiny frame. When my consciousness finally came fully ‘round, my iPhone told me it was 6:45. I let loose a scream great enough to make a Hollywood actress jealous, and I was flying out the door as soon as my Frogg Toggs and shoes were on.
Outside of the quaint little room was a vision from Silent Hill: fog thick as dough covered all of Leeville, making even the testament of Hurricane Katrina, the Leeville Bridge, impossible to spot. Not being very familiar with the area, I launched from Bobby Lynn’s with gusto, terrified of crossing Bayou Lafourche; premonitions of barges and charter boats running down my almost hidden Wilderness Systems Ride 115 tore at my mind’s eye. But, relief caressed my soul as I reached my favorite “fatal funnel” into the marsh without incident. And even more important, a grin and howl of excitement pierced the fog as the first keeper trout of the day was hauled aboard on the third cast of my Daiwa “D-Shock”:
Another speck joined the first in the Igloo cooler. After a few casts with no hits, I decided to slow roll my H&H “Sparkle Beetle” and jig it. Bam! A Ferrari of a fish smacked the lure, and surfaced. At first all I could see was a tail, which looked almost as big as a young redfish. But when I saw a few spots on the back, I knew I had a hog of a trout! As I tried to free my net’s lanyard from a snag, the slab danced on the surface, and popped the lure out of his mouth. Needless to say, much swearing was done and a few tears were shed.
A kayaker in a Malibu and another fisherman in a Hobie came thru my little cut, and began catching trout in the main canal. I fished with them for a few, catching a dink and missing some short strikes. I decided to take the venture to the deep holes where Thomas and I had torn the specks up a week prior.
The dinks were out in full force, and provided a load of entertainment. After netting three more keepers, I decided to hit the marsh for reds. Poling flats, canals, and even little ponds, I didn’t see a single tail, swirl, or even baitfish anywhere. Not letting it get me down, I continued to follow a canal that lead me back to the main bayou that feeds the cut I had fished earlier. Looking to get maybe another large speck, I cast into the canal, and bam! A 16” gatormouth inhaled the lure and surfaced beautifully.
With six keepers in the kayak, I decided to fish the cut one last time. Nothing but short bites greeted me. My phone chirped and I looked to see my dad calling me to come see what this Paddlepalooza thing was about. Happily, and satisfied that I had fished hard enough, I paddled in after five hours of searching. Though I didn’t place in the tournament, I had a load of fun catching dinks and keepers alike, and seeing my father was the icing on the fish-shaped cake.