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I planned to have a long, relaxing weekend this weekend after last weekend’s festivities at the country music festival. I was relaxing on my front porch yesterday eating some lemon icebox pie and reading Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird. The air was cool after the rains of this week, and the breeze was nice. My phone rang, and it was my friend Rhonda from work. “Do you want to go fishing with us tomorrow?” she asked in her Cajun accent that I love. She is from Thibodaux, and she’s actually a cousin of one of my college friends. We’ve become fast friends at work and last weekend she texted me some amazing pics of she and her husband’s “catch” down at their camp. I was supposed to do a long run this morning, but this was so much better.
Well, I had to quickly figure out how I was going to manage a trip like this with my dog. She said we were leaving early. Early is no problem for me as I get up at 4:30 or 4:45 every morning anyway, but when she said we were leaving at 3 AM, I had to pause and do the math of how I would take care of my dog for that long day. I had no time to waste, so I called my friend JoAnn who was happy to take her, and I packed for the trip in about 2 minutes flat. It’s not often I get an opportunity like this, and I wasn’t going to say no.
There’s really no good part about getting up at 2:30 AM for a 3 AM departure, but it took a good turn when I realized this was one of those days when it’s acceptable for me to have caffeine. They made coffee, and Steve offered it to me with sweetened condensed milk. It was so good, I didn’t regret a minute of lost sleep until I finished the last drop. It was dark the entire drive, and we arrived at their camp around just before daybreak. We made a quick stop in the boat at Campo’s Marina to get shrimp for bait, to chat with the owner and to take a few pictures for my expected blog. I was introduced to Frank – owner of Campo’s – as Steve’s girlfriend. Rhonda jokingly told him it was more efficient to bring us both along.
Scenes from The Trip Out
As we were pulling away from the dock, sunlight started splashing along the horizon in an horizontal stripe across the black water. It seemed like just a few minutes before daylight broke, and I could see the canal and the foliage flying past. Steve told me this was the Mississippi River – Gulf Outlet Canal, and he explained that it’s existence was part of the problem that exacerbated the flooding when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. It acted like a funnel and increased the water flow going into the city’s waterways. We crossed over into a smaller natural waterway and headed out to the Gulf. I asked what we were fishing for, and I was told ‘whatever we catch.’
It was cloudy, it looked like it could rain anytime, and it was really windy all morning. I found it meditative watching the neon corks bob up and down on the waves with small whitecaps with birds calling above. We even had a porpoise or two swim behind our boat and surface several times throughout the morning. Steve and Rhonda were disappointed that we weren’t having as much luck as they did last weekend, but I thought it was fun. I caught several that were too small to keep, but I did catch one speckled trout that was a keeper. Then, I hooked a really big one. I could barely feel the trout when I was reeling them in, but this one kept running with my line. I’d get him back towards the boat, and he’d go again. Steve kept running around to see if he could see what it was. I finally got it close enough that I was lifting it into the boat, and the line broke. I was so disappointed!!! He said it looked like a big redfish, but I told him I thought it had to be a Marlin or something. I mean, it dragged the boat 100 yards down the waterway, and, when it broke free, it’s wake nearly capsized the boat. Just my luck I’d never get to know what it really was. 🙂
We ended up catching 16 trout, a croaker, a sheephead, a stingray, and a couple of baby white trout. I drowned about 20 shrimp who’d seen better days, and, of course I missed my Marlin by a second. About lunchtime, Steve declared that we better make haste or we were going to get wet. You could see a storm moving across the water. It was ominous and beautiful. My Dad had a habit of keeping us out too long on the water, so I knew what it felt like to be riding in a boat in a thunderstorm. It didn’t really scare me because it’s a little but adventurous, but I’d rather have passed on the opportunity. They swung by an old civil war fort on the way back, and as soon as we docked, the storm let loose. We had perfect timing.
I had an awesome time and went home with all of the fish since they go fishing all the time. This little bunch will last me awhile since it’s just me. Maybe the cats will even get a treat. When we got back to their house, I asked Steve to show me where we were on the map, and he pulled it up on Google Earth. He showed me where we had fished, and then he explained that Louisiana has such great sport fishing because it’s very close to the Continental Shelf with it’s deep, deep waters. That’s were the big fish live like tuna, sailfish, sharks and, of course, my Marlin. When you look at the map of the Continental shelf, you can see that no other state in the United States comes as close as the toe of the boot on Louisiana. Number 11 my Bucket List Louisianne is deep-sea fishing. I’m supposed to catch my own fish and cook it. I guess I’m going to have to get out there and get on that one. Tonight, I cooked my speckled trout for dinner. It was delicious, and I was very grateful to the little fish that I had in my hands this morning as well as my new friends Steve and Rhonda.