Tuna Town: Head out of Cocodrie for some first-class tuna fishing

There’s a handful of rigs south of Cocodrie that are underfished and loaded with tackle-busting yellowfins.

Todd Masson

May 04, 2011 at 10:02 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Some really big tuna swim at the rigs out of Cocodrie.
Some really big tuna swim at the rigs out of Cocodrie.
Every school has its legends.

In the hallowed halls of Metairie’s Ridgewood Prep, deep in the dusty corners of painted hallways, amidst the clanging of slammed locker doors, the faint echo of one name still resonates.

Listen closely, and you’ll hear it. Peer through the glass of the well-stocked trophy case, and you’ll see it.

It’s a name that rolls from the tongues of foam-fingered boosters, sitting in bleachers and reminiscing of the school’s glory days.

It’s the name Glenn Leingang.

Back in the early ‘90s, he was a force on the field, court and diamond that was and is unmatched in the comprehensive annals of Ridgewood athletics.

Pick up a Times-Picayune sports page from that era, and you’re as likely to see his picture as that of Peter Finney’s.

He was named to the All-State baseball team once, the All-State basketball team twice, the All-Metro basketball team three times, the All-Metro baseball team once, the All-District football team three times and was twice the All-District MVP in basketball.

His opponents throughout the Greater New Orleans area all knew him and feared him.

Too bad none of them knew to bring along a can of StarKist.

Tuna, it appears, has the same effect on Glenn Leingang as kryptonite on Superman.

That was as clear as the flat, blue water during a trip the former Ridgewood standout made last summer. He had asked his good friend, Chad Harvey, to guide him to Harvey’s favorite tuna grounds south of Cocodrie. It was Leingang’s 30th birthday, and he wanted to do something “out of the box” that he would remember for years to come.

Instead, he did something that his friends would never forget.

Tuna virgin that he was, it was unanimously decided that the birthday boy would be first up on the rod.

Harvey figured that first bite would come on a slow-trolled live hardtail. He had been absolutely blistering the yellowfins during the weeks prior, and the fish wouldn’t even sniff anything but a lively hardtail pulled through their lair.

So Harvey and his motley crew of offshore neophytes spent the finest minutes of the morning, when the surface of the sea seemed to be giving birth to the sun, with trout rods in their hands and sabiki rigs on the ends of their lines.

The rigs were easy to cast — and it was a good thing. Making bait proved almost as challenging as catching a muskie on Toledo Bend.

“I don’t know why, but in this section of the Gulf, the hardtails are really hard to catch,” Harvey said. “Closer to the river, you can catch all you want in a few minutes, but over here, it takes a while to make all your bait.”

Still, when the crew’s casting was done, eight hardtails enjoyed a Jacuzzi bath and a high-speed ride across the surface of the docile Gulf. For them, it was a day at the spa.

Three hours after leaving his camp near CoCo Marina, Harvey finally throttled down, pulled two rods from the rocket launchers and eased them into the rod holders.

He gave a couple of his hardtail guests some new body piercings, and sent them back into their salty, deep-blue home. Harvey eased one motor into gear, and began a slow crawl adjacent to the Genesis rig in Green Canyon 209.

It wasn’t long before Josh Lincoln, one of Leingang’s closest friends, shrieked like a schoolgirl. A school of tuna had erupted a mere 50 yards in front of the boat.

With all eyes pinned on the school, the display was mesmerizing. Hundred-pound fish breached the surface and rocketed into the air like they were quarter-pound mullet.

Harvey had seen the acrobatics too many times to count during his eight years fishing the area, and he knew what would happen next: Any minute a giant yellowfin would end one of the hardtail’s day at the spa, and would send an angler plummeting into the pit of a physical hell.

A skilled angler who was raised in Chauvin, Harvey outflanked the school, and turned to ease his baits into the action. Fish the size of scud missiles shot through the surface all around the baits, many seeming to crash directly into the lines on their re-entry.

But none filled their gullets with the free offerings.

Soon the school sounded, and the crew was chasing the next eruption.

Again, the result was equally disappointing.

“Some days they do this,” Harvey said. “They just won’t touch a live bait.”

Harvey tried to lure a strike from another school, and when that failed, he pulled out a knife and a cutting board.

“Cap, start chopping up some pogies,” he ordered, and Daniel “Cap” Verret sheepishly picked up the knife.

What Harvey didn’t realize was that such a request was like asking a man with severe acid reflux to eat a bowl of habaneros.

Go to our online archives to read the rest of this story, which first appeared in the May 2007 issue of Louisiana Sportsman magazine. Subscribe to the magazine to ensure you don't miss a single information-packed issue.




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