A bream fisherman? Certainly.
A saltwater angler? Used to be.
An offshore fisherman? Sometimes, years ago.
But bass fishing? Not hardly.
I know this because I grew up with the man, and spent many an hour in his little 15-foot bateau backed with a 25-horse Merc and crowded with all the ice chests, fishing poles, cricket boxes, worm buckets and other paraphernalia needed to catch perch.
As far as I can figure, this was my dad's first bass-fishing trip ever.
And now he's gloating. Grinning. Rubbing it in.
Two Venice bass were cooling in the chest, and he had caught them both.
His son, who has spent untold hours bass fishing across the South, hadn't stuck a fish. Not one.
Well, there was the redfish, which was lost while Dad fiddled with the HiberNet.
We were fishing off of Old Dennis Pass in Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area yesterday (July 26), flipping plastics into the flooded canes. The bite was decided not Venice-like.
Reports of 100-fish days had crept out, and I decided it was time to check it out. Venice is my favorite place in the world — and we pulled out of my Prairieville house shortly after 3 a.m. to make the 3-hour run to Venice Marina.
And now I was being whipped. By a 67-year-old who probably hadn't caught 10 bass in his life. And I wasn't happy.
It had been several years since I had made the run to PAL to bass fish. I'm not sure I had been that far south for a bass-fishing trip since Hurricane Katrina chewed the mouth of the river to shreds.
It was much changed. The canals in which I had landed many a bass were gone. But there was plenty of fishing area.
Most disconcerting at the moment was the lack of water. There simply wasn't any water in the canes.
The cause was unclear, and buddy Eric Williamson had told me he absolutely killed the bass last weekend.
The culprit probably was the west wind that had been blowing for several days. The tide was falling, and that combined with wind-generated flow to make it difficult to even hold the boat in place. Water was just flying out of the marsh.
Finally, about 12:30 p.m., I felt a little pressure on the Baby Brush Hog I had flipped into some reeds off Loomis Pass and I set the hook on a 2-pounder.
But we really had gotten almost no bites.
So we headed north to Delta Duck, which I've fished repeated over the past several years.
Dad was thus far underwhelmed by his first trip to Venice. We had caught a grand total of three fish in PAL, and we only missed more than a couple of fish.
"I've heard so much about Venice," he goaded me.
I assured him it was really was the best bass-fishing location in the state — if not the country.
"Maybe (Williamson) lied to you about catching them down here," he said.
I just shook my head and concentrated on the short river run to Octave Pass.
The water was gorgeous when we pulled into Delta Duck. We quickly ate sandwiches, and then I stood up and flipped my soft-plastic lure in the canes just off a junction of canals.
It only took a few pitches to feel the pressure of a bass, and that fish was soon flopping on the deck.
Within 15 minutes, I had put another four bass in the boat along a 25-yard stretch.
Nah, Dad didn't catch any. It was my turn to gloat.
And Dad's opinion started to change.
"Do you ever get in a spot and catch bass every cast?" he asked.
"Sure. Those 100-fish days I've told you about are no exaggeration, so you have to be able to catch them one after another," I said.
The good news was that there was plenty of water in the canes here. The bass were buried inside the boundaries of the stalks of rosseau, and it was necessary to pitch lures at least a foot inside the twisted tangle.
I lost a couple of fish that came off before they could be snatched from the canes. Dad also missed a couple of bites as he adjusted to the pattern.
And then the bite died again.
The canal was barren of anything but cane. Almost no submerged vegetation. And only a wilted clump of hyacinths here and there.
I told him we needed to find some hyacinths — a guarantee of bass in Venice.
So we quickly shot the attached video, and then cranked up the boat and ran all through the complex of canals looking for a concentration of hyacinths we could flip.
That's when the most-alarming aspect of the day became apparent.
Every hyacinth in Delta Duck was brown. Dead. Not a bass under them.
The culprit seems to be an influx of salt water that hammered the floating vegetation.
By 3:30 p.m., we headed back to the dock fairly disgusted. Eight bass were in the boat. Not even a one-man limit.
All I could do was promise to take my old man back another day. And hope the mouth of the Mississippi River will live up to the high expectations.
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