Those of us old enough to remember the Lone Ranger TV series will recall that Indian side-kick Tonto invariably called the Lone Ranger “Kemo-sabe.
While it was never defined, the term could only be interpreted to be one of deep respect and friendship.
It isn’t syrupy at all to use the term to describe the fishing and personal friendship of Ed Sexton and Dudley Vandenborre, both of whom are members of trophy speckled trout fishing’s elite and together form an almost unbeatable tournament team.
They were featured individually in the best-selling book,
“Trout Masters: How Louisiana’s Best Angler’s Catch the Lunkers” published by Louisiana Sportsman magazine.
By some sort of alignment of the stars, they are also tied for 10th place in the all-time Louisiana record books, each having caught a 10.5-pound speckled trout.
They came to fishing fame by different paths.
Sexton owns his the Baton Rouge-based Sexton Kitchen and Bath, and concentrates his outdoor activities in Venice, fishing for speckled trout 50 to 60 days a year and duck hunting another 30 days.
The North Louisiana native came to Venice in 1993 to fish for bass, running 25 miles of treacherous river in a 16-foot bateau. He quickly decided he needed a houseboat to reduce the number of runs, so he built one in 1995.
Things went well until 1998, when Hurricane Georges killed most of the bass. So he and son Andrew took a stab at speckled trout fishing, throwing H&H soft plastics.
“I was always an artificial bait fisherman,” the elder Sexton explained. “You couldn’t buy live bait in Port Eads, and I didn’t know how to trawl for it myself. Plus, I like to fish artificials. I have a lot of confidence in plastic. I can feel it good. I can fish in 20 feet of water and can feel the bait.
“In 2000, after reading about Dudley Vandenborre in ‘Louisiana Sportsman’ I bought some Deadly Dudley baits. The first day, I caught one trout.
“It was 9 pounds.”
The angler went back the next weekend with a friend, Warren Coco.
“We fished with lime-colored Deadly Dudley Rat Tails one evening and one morning,” Sexton said. “The first fish I caught was the 10½-pounder. We ended up with 18 fish: The 10 largest weighed about 75 pounds.
“They became known as ‘the stringer’ by trout fishermen.
He, son Andrew and a friend almost duplicated the feat the next weekend.
“I mounted six fish from the two weekends: Andrew’s 9 and two 8s,” Sexton said. “For me: a 10, a 9 and an 8.
“I still use plastics; I still use Dudleys.”
Dudley Vandenborre, a New Orleans boy began fishing at age 4 with grandfather Henry Vandenborre, who had a camp at Lake Catherine. The youngster would spend whole summers fishing with him.
“We had those little lake skiffs with 9½s on them,” Vandenborre recalled. “It was way different back then. If my grandfather caught a 6-inch trout, he kept it.
“My job was cleaning the fish. Do you know how many of them are in a 48-quart ice chest? About 120 of them.”
While he’s best known for his prowess on Lake Pontchartrain, that’s not where he started his trout-fishing career.
“After I got married, I fished with my father-in-law Bob Doyle in Empire and Delacroix,” Vandenborre said. “What turned me into a Lake Pontchartrain fisherman was the creation of the 25-fish limit for trout.
“It didn’t make any sense to run all the way to Delacroix for only 25 fish.”
He said no one used artificials on Lake Pontchartrain.
“There were two types of Lake Pontchartrain fishermen back then: live bait and trollers,” Vandenborre said. “Three or four of us began using H&H queen cocahoes. Then I started hand-pouring my own.
“People would always come by to get free baits. I’d pour 200 and give away 180. The next night I was pouring them again. I soon learned that I could make any mold with a block of bondo and a Dremel tool.”
He eventually started selling lures, although the name of the line came about by happenstance.
“I made the first bait — the rat tail — commercially in 1997,” Vandemborre said. “Charlie Smith, the lobbyist for the Charter Guide Association, and Dee Geohagan, who was president of the association (and a partner in the lure business) and I were fishing the first run of commercially poured baits at the Twin Spans in Lake Pontchartrain.
“The bait didn’t have a name yet. The fourth person in the boat, whose name is lost, said, ‘This lure is deadly Dudley.’ Charlie said, ‘There’s your name Dudley.’”
Vandenborre caught his 10 ½-pounder at the Highway 11 Bridge over eastern Lake Pontchartrain two years after Sexton caught his lunker.
Naturally enough, it ate one of his own plastic baits, an avocado Terror Tail.
“Ed and I were already good friends,” Vandenborre said. “It was interesting to tie him.”
Besides tending to the V&G Lures, Vandenborre averages 220 days a year on the water, much of it as Capt. Dudley Vandenborre Charters, 985-847-1924.
Strangely, the fast friends met because Sexton couldn’t find enough of Vandenborre’s lures.
“I could only buy them in 10-packs, and I couldn’t find them everywhere,” Sexton explained. “I wanted a hundred at a time.”
So he called, and talked to Kim and then Dudley. After that David Young, a camera man for a local TV show hooked them up on a Venice fishing trip.
The chemistry between the two on the water now is like a neon sign, but both are uncomfortable discussing it.
“He’s a hard-nosed fisherman,” Vandenborre said. “He puts in the hours, and we hit it off. We are both family people; I respect him.”
Sexton repaid the compliment.
“We both fish hard, I learned,” he said. “We have a lot in common, in spite of different backgrounds.”