Having had the opportunity to catch tripletail once before this week, I couldn't pass up Dumas's invitation to go run some crab traps a second time. I had to decline an earlier invitation then nearly openly wept later when I heard how he had smoked them in my absence.
"Saw 10 caught 6," he texted me last Monday night. "Now do you want to go? No trout... only triple tails."
I arrived at the Rigolets Marina on Highway 90 in the extreme eastern section of St. Tammany Parish not fully knowing what to expect. My only tripletail came on a slice of mullet fished under a cork near a channel buoy in Mississippi, but Dumas told me he was free-lining them as I jumped into his Ranger bay boat.
"We got some shrimp, and all we're going to do is run some of these buoys to spot the fish," he began. "When we see a fish, we'll turn around and go catch it. It ought to be a good day to see them with the wind laid down like this. You're going to think you're missing them at first, but when you spot that first one, you'll realize you can't miss them."
I realized what he was talking about after passing about 20 traps on my side without seeing the first fish. I thought I wasn't living up to the responsibility he had placed on me to spot the tripletail until we passed our first fish.
The big, silvery blob right below the buoy would have been obvious from 50 yards away rather than the 15 yards we were passing by. As the spray from Dumas's Ranger hit the buoy, the tripletail kind of flicked its fin above the surface like a flag waving us in.
"He's yours," said Dumas as he pulled a shrimp out of his baitwell. "Just pitch it right behind the fish and pull it past him. Once you get his attention, try to move the shrimp fast enough to pull him out from under the buoy. He'll chase it and eat it away from the buoy, and you don't have to worry about him getting hung in the line."
The fish immediately turned on my shrimp and started following it. Like a beagle hot on a fresh scent, this singularly minded tripletail would not be distracted by us or the giant boat right in front of its face. It smacked the shrimp right on the surface like a giant bluegill inhaling a popper fly, and it was on.
We continued to run the lines of crab traps until about lunchtime, and we found tripletails on nearly ever line we ran. By the end of the day, we had seen 15 fish and landed 12.
"It's like hunting," Dumas said as we divided the fish equally back at the marina. "Spot and stalk... it can't get any better. You see the fish, sneak up to it, put a bait in front of it and put it in the box. You want to go catch some trout tomorrow?"
With the smell of fresh tripletail on my hands and the thoughts of fried tripletail later that evening clouding my mind, I had to say no. "Can we do this again?" I pleaded.
You can check out the video at www.chrisginn.com.