August 2012 - Volume 32, Number 8


There’s always something biting out of Grand Isle. All you have to do is get there and have an open mind.

It was time to put Plan B into action.

Craig Matherne and I had been trying to coax a trout or two to bite on the surf side of Grand Isle, and we were having very little luck.

All the while we hauled water, the nearshore rigs behind us loomed large in the mind of the captain, who operates Premiere Charters of Grand Isle.

“You’re in here fishing the surf, and all you can think about are the rigs,” he chuckled. “And then you get out there fishing the rigs, and all you can think about is fishing the surf.”

Everyone knows testosterone often rules the male psyche. So how does this vital hormone — and the mates they pursue — affect bucks during the rut?

The rut is on. Mature bucks, if not pursuing does, are tending and breeding estrous females.

The playing field has many contenders; yet one particular buck is not only dominating a given area with two different doe groups, but his body size is exceedingly large — even to the point of abnormality.

As he tends a doe, his entire body from forehead to the hindquarters is swollen. It appears as though his body and neck have been stuffed with pillows.

Just go ahead and sleep in. The best tarpon fishing off the mouth of the Mississippi River usually begins after lunch.

We were actually looking for kingfish, but a different king — this one also robed in silver — came to play, and the day turned interesting in a hurry.

Launching from Venice Marina one balmy August afternoon, I was headed out for what was to be a quick photo shoot with Scomberomorus cavalla — the toothy king mackerel. My hosts were Capts. Brandon and Brent Ballay — brothers and fixtures in the Delta fishing scene. Both felt confident that we could wrangle up a picture-worthy king in short order, so off to the rigs we went.

Big Lake proper still holds guppy trout in the heat of the summer, but here’s how this veteran guide — and his son — continue catching lunkers.

Ten-year-old Phillip Rue was scrunched up on the bow seat of the boat, torquing the handle of the spinning reel ferociously.

“Hoo hoo, I got one!” he shouted.

The reel’s drag screeched in protest as the fish on the end of the line struggled to escape.

When the 2-foot-long blacktip shark thrashed to the surface, the young man went ballistic.

“It’s a mako; it’s a mako. I think that it’s a mako!” he shouted.

Marsh bass don’t disappear when during the summer months. In fact, they provide great action for those anglers willing to brave the hot weather.

“So uhhh — Dad. Why do we have to leave again?” my son Jason asked, while he was setting his crankbait with a solid jerk into another little marsh bass.
There was what seemed like a long pause while I contemplated my answer to his question, something I normally did as a father who raised three intelligent boys. Moreover, I knew he was messing with me because there wasn’t a good answer, no matter how I put it.

"Well if we do stay," I replied, "we’re not going to get much work done."

"So? And?" he said, while I watched him carefully remove the treble hooks from the lips of his catch.

Summertime doesn’t mean making long hauls, if you know a few deep holes on the MRGO.

The trip looked doomed. It always happens this way. The prospects for the morning’s fishing trip always decrease in direct ratio to the number of wine corks popped and trips to the keg. When Doc cranks up “Shattered” by the Rolling Stones, the plans are seriously tail-spinning.

“So we’ll leave a little later,” Pelayo said as he boogied his way past Doc and Trisha on the impromptu dance floor that doubles as Doc’s pool deck. “No problemo. What’s the big deal?”

More than just a buffer from tropical storms, the Chandeleurs offer some first-class fishing opportunities.

It was the eve of Feb. 1 in the year 1700 — a day long celebrated by Europeans as “Candlemas,” a day when their religious clergy blessed the candles that would be used in their religious services for the remainder of the year.

On the eve of that holy day, French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville dropped anchor alongside a long chain of uninhabited islands off the border of the Louisiana/Mississippi coast and christened them Les Iles de Chandeleur (Translated in English a “The Chandeleur Islands”) in honor of the event.

Oblong jigheads provide particular presentation benefits.

Much more than a chunky, lumbering bottom bumper, the football jig offers a diverse tool for probing deeper spots — especially those with lots of hard stuff on the bottom.

Designed to work its way across uneven surfaces with less chance of snagging, the football-head jig can indeed serve as a clunky wake-them-up tool —but it also serves well as a finesse presentation or an in-your-face reaction bait.

Toledo Bend guide Stephen Johnston recalls growing up with the opinion that a football-head was a tool for northern anglers working deep, rocky-bottom lakes. But his embracing the jig’s performance attributes and applying them to southern waters has led to much success.

Cobia prowl the Louisiana coast this month, and adding a few to the freezer is just a matter of knowing a few tricks of the trade.

With the motor idling to keep the boat in position against the running tide, the captain nosed toward a small oil-field structure in the Gulf of Mexico and tossed some fish pieces under the barnacle-encrusted legs supporting this steel island.

As the succulent chunks of fish slowly disappeared into the aquamarine water, larger shapes materialized to create a frenzy just below the surface. Soon, various other fishy objects, large and small, appeared.

Aggressive fish darted out from under the platform to snatch their share of morsels.

The experiment with small green patches continues, with new plantings and reviews of new seed varieties.

I pulled my game cam card and anxiously rushed back to the house to see what kind of horn porn awaited me.

Of all the plots former Louisiana Sportsman editor Todd Masson and I began to manage four years ago, none of them ever had the kind of bucks on the camera cards that stood sentry over them as did this little spot about two miles down the road.

If you want a successful bow hunt on Oct. 1, keep the promises you’re making to yourself right now.

Bowhunters spend all summer promising themselves that things are going to be different this year.

We promise that we’re going to shoot our bows, but we don’t.

We promise we’re going to cut shooting lanes, but we don’t.

We promise we’re going to hang our stands early, but we don’t.

The next thing we know, our promises have built to the point that they break, and we make a mad dash to get things ready the last week of September.

It's time to start thinking about the upcoming deer season. Also, Capt. Scott Avanzino knows the beaches are full of trout this month.