It’s a simple life. As the dew drips off the camp windows as a result of the thick humid air, you hear the gentle beep of a coffee pot finishing its brew. However, before you pour a cup, you walk outside and feel the thick heavy air sitting over the marsh like its snuggling tight after it just hit the snooze for the third time. Immediately, you get excited because for once the weatherman got it right and the light and variable winds forecasted should be perfect on the beach, especially with a nice incoming tide. As you begin to collect your gear and load the boat, your buddy makes his way out of his room at the camp and asks, “What’s the verdict?” Your response isn’t even spoken, instead it’s a simple head nod that has an unspoken definition, understood by only the fraternity of fisherman that have wadefished the surf in South Louisiana. Its early August and the full moon, which is the last spawning full moon for trout in the surf, shows the way to the bounty that awaits, like an Army Ranger shooting an azimuth through the hills of Ecuador.
As they make their way downstairs to the boat that sits in a hoist centered under the camp, the air is so quiet you can hear the water dripping off the siding and hitting the rocks below. As a result, the anticipation grows and the captain quickly fires up the 90hp Yamaha Four Stroke to get idling down Martins canal. During their 10 minute idle, they make small talk, say a quick prayer and thank God for the raw beauty they are allowed to be a part of. In addition, they say a quick hello to the local charter fleet, preparing for a day of catching with their clients, and make quick/corny jokes about the limp flag that sits atop the boat shed. In short, it’s going be a good day.
As they reach the end of the canal, the ambient light fades from the row of camps behind, and all that’s aiding the journey south is the reflection of the full moon off of Grand Bayou and the port and
starboard lights reflecting off the bow. It’s a 30 minute ride, and despite the attention of a few crab traps, it’s a fairly straightforward quest to Eddies pass at the mouth. During the journey, everyone remains quiet and ponders a variety of topics ranging from girlfriends, deciding whether to throw a 1/4oz or a 3/8oz jig-head or repenting for any wrongdoings that are sitting on the heart. All are good, because the marsh doesn’t just sustain with its bounty, it sustains the heart and whispers comfort to the soul at 35mph…it’s a grassy cathedral with no stain glass or pews, but slumped over cypress trees and the dawn of a new day. When the boat comes off plane at the destination, it’s a mixture of leaving a confessional and preparing for the decent on a double black diamond trail at Tahoe…it’s the adrenaline rush all anglers seek to encounter.
Once the boat is secure, the two anglers walk a short distance over the beach to the marginally present breakers on the Gulf Side of the pass, and as suspected the tide is slightly incoming and the water, emerald green. At this point, the light over the horizon provides just enough visibility to see where the bait hits the water, and good thing, because as soon as it does, it immediately gets engulfed by a 20” trout.
After a short fight, an adequate net job, and a successful attempt to put him in the fish basket, you make another cast to the same result. At this point, it’s one after another and both anglers bow up after every cast until they field their limit in less than an hour. Its magical, however this story doesn’t have a happy ending...yet.
As a 33 year old father with 2 young boys (5 and 2), my children will never witness being alone in the marsh with one of their best friends to catch trout, drink a beer while fileting a box of fish or taking a nap on the couch at the camp, between trips, during the heat of the day, unless we preserve it. Since the early 2000’s, all of the passes from the Shell Island pass to Four bayou pass in Grand Isle have been filled in due to storm protection endeavors and the marsh behind the beach is left to starve. Not only is it cut off from the flowing tides of the Gulf, but it’s deprived of its nourishment by 30’ high levee walls, guiding all of the rich river sediment out of the passes of Venice off the continental shelf. In short, if you enjoyed these days and hope they will one day return, be part of the solution and do your part to restore Coastal Louisiana. Educate yourself on the State’s Master plan to restore the Delta and get behind grassroots organizations like Vanishing Paradise and the like, who diligently seek that funding authorized from oil companies and the federal government, go toward sustainable efforts to restore our coast.
As stated above, this is a special place, not only to me, but too many across the nation and certainly South Louisiana. Again, I urge you to be part of the solution and safeguard these memories for generations to come.
God bless and Tight lines.