Time travel is a scary proposition.

For one thing, you never know if the portal you slide down is two ways. I mean, really, when you're vaporized from one era and reconstructed in another, is there any guarantee you'll be able to get back to where you started?

And even more importantly, do you really know where you're going to end up?

Kirk Douglas didn't.

In the 1980 smash hit "The Final Countdown," Douglas plays Matthew Yelland, captain of the U.S.S. Nimitz, a state-of-the-art aircraft carrier.

Yelland and his crew are out on patrol in the Pacific Ocean when they spy a hellacious storm brewing in the distance. The crafty captain, no stranger to the perils of unrestrained Mother Nature on the open seas, alters his course. But, unfortunately, the storm does as well.

It soon becomes alarmingly obvious to Yelland he'll have no choice but to ride into the eye of this beast.

The storm resembles a tornado that's turned on its side, and into this tunnel of terror, Yelland must guide his ship. Lighting pops all around (time travel is never possible without electricity [for reference, see "Back to the Future"]), and the crew can do nothing but gawk at the tempest with wide eyes and parted jaws.

But just as quickly as the storm strikes, it's over, and Yelland and his relieved crew are once again floating on the peaceful Pacific, enjoying the warm Polynesian air not too far from the islands of Hawaii.

You would think that with all the movies Kirk Douglas has been in, he'd realize you can't go through a storm like that without some serious ramifications, but the good captain seems nonplussed to discover he and his crew have traveled nearly 40 years back in time to Dec. 6, 1941.

Back before the Japanese made great cars, they made great planes, and on that date, they were preparing to send a whole heap of them toward America's Pacific fleet stationed, of course, in Pearl Harbor.

The movie examines the angst tearing at Yelland's gut as he debates the pros and cons of intervening and altering history (or is it the future?) forever.

There's no angst in the Louisiana Sportsman version of "The Final Countdown." Nothing but sweaty brows, sore biceps and stretched lines.

We asked two of the state's best guides to imagine they were out on their favorite lakes one day and, like poor Capt. Yelland, were unwittingly hurled back in time.

But for our captains, the time travel is much more severe — a full century — and they have no hope of return. They must fend for themselves, and live on a diet of salty Louisiana speckled trout and redfish.

What three lures — in unlimited quantities — would they most like to have?


Capt. Gerald Ellender

If Capt. Gerald Ellender's bay boat motored through our little time warp into 1906 Bayou DuLarge, he'd want to make sure it was stocked to the gills with black/chartreuse Bayou Chubs teamed with 1/4-ounce jigheads.

"That bait's just so versatile," he said. "It's great in the canals when the fish are stacked up there. You can bounce it off the bottom, or you can reel a little faster to catch fish that are suspended."

Ellender does a lot of that this time of year, but as the sun continues its springtime climb, Ellender moves out of the canals and onto the flats.

"A Bayou Chub works really well when you can work it along a flat and pull it off into deeper water," he said. "Those fish will hang there, and just nail it."

In such a situation, a cork-suspended Bayou Chub would also likely deliver the goods, but Ellender avoids floats like they're nuclear waste.

"I'm a pure tightline fisherman," he said. "I like to fish fast — cast and reel, and cast and reel. I like continuous action. I'm too impatient to fish with a cork."

Ellender's love of constant action drives his choice for the second bait he'd like to have with him on his time-travel journey — a mullet-colored Top Dog Jr.

But unlike most anglers, Ellender doesn't X out days on a calendar waiting for the "topwater season." He'll throw the bait any time of the year if conditions dictate it.

"The No. 1 thing — the main thing to look for — is baitfish," he said. "If you can look into the water and see bait moving, take out the topwaters," he said. "It doesn't have to be perfect weather, but you've got to have working bait."

Ellender said topwaters also work when shrimp are popping on the surface, but typically the trout hanging under the shrimp are schoolies.

"The bigger fish want mullet," he said. "If I look out and see those (mullet) heads up, even if it's a small school (of mullet), I'll throw topwaters."

Ellender acknowledged that bait is easier to find on the surface during the warmer months of the year, but topwater baits will be effective during any month when the conditions are right.

"Time of the year has no effect," he said. "It can be January, and if we have a few days in a row where it warms up, those fish will be blocking and hitting on top."

Ellender's third bait he'd want to have along is a blue moon Deadly Dudley.

"I like the one with the straight tail," he said.

Some anglers are turned off by the dull appearance of Deadly Dudleys in the package, but Ellender said they're making a big mistake.

"You look at that straight-tail bait, and you think, 'What in the world does that imitate?' But when you see that thing in action, then you understand," he said.

Ellender saw the bait during a demonstration in a clear tank, and came away stunned at the action of the bait underwater.

"It vibrates a lot, and that has everything to do with the attention the bait gets," he said.

The vibration of the bait is the result of its concave side. Consequently, it's important that anglers always rig this bait with the concave side on the bottom (with the hook protruding through the ribbed, round belly).

This bait is particularly effective when fished along the bottom of canals.

"I like to fish it just like a bass worm," Ellender said.


Capt. C.T. Williams

C.T. Williams' television fishing show probably wouldn't have been quite as popular in 1906, when even radios were not yet commercially available, but the veteran Hopedale guide is supremely confident he could have caught plenty enough trout to have fed himself.

All he'd need is a boat full of his three favorite lures.

First off, a chartreuse She Dog would be a must.

"In the spring, after a cold winter, you just can't beat a She Dog," Williams said.

Prime locations for the bait are where flats drop off onto oyster beds in 4 to 8 feet of water, he said.

But not every oyster bed will hold fish.

"You need to have three things: No. 1, points and pockets, which is essentially structure; No. 2, clean, moving water; and No. 3, bait," he said.

The moving water can be from either a rising or falling tide to spur the fish to feed, but Williams gives a slight edge to a rising tide in the spring.

"In the Breton Sound area, a rising tide brings in higher salinity water, and later in the spring that becomes a bigger issue," he said. "I'm a big believer that speckled trout do their heaviest feeding just after a spawn when they're trying to replenish their bodies. They're just ravenous.

"That's why you hear so much talk about the April full moon. That's the first big spawn of the season."

When Williams sees his three ingredients for topwater success, he knows he's going to get bites, but he alters his fishing technique according to the conditions.

"If it's windy and the surface is rough, you've got to walk that Dog loud," he said. "You've got to pull it hard left and hard right, and don't stop it.

"If it's a calm day, you've got to be a little more careful with the bait, walk it slower. You might walk it left and right, and then stop it. You've got to let the bait do the calling."

Williams would certainly have his She Dogs, but no Louisiana bay boat would be complete without some type of soft plastic, and Williams' bait of choice would be a chartreuse or opening night Samurai Shad.

"I'd use nothing but opening night in the winter and chartreuse in the summer," he said.

After the spring topwater bite died, Williams would transform to the chartreuse Samurai Shad suspended 4 feet under a cork. He'd fish it around structure in open water.

"In present day, I'd fish it around rigs," he said. "There weren't any rigs 100 years ago, but I'm sure there were a few shipwrecks."

He would also constantly be on the lookout for birds, especially early in the summer.

"In the late spring and early summer, whenever you see birds diving you know there are speckled trout underneath them," he said. "Later in the summer, there's only a 50-percent chance it'll be trout (feeding under the birds). There's just as good a chance it could be ladyfish or even gafftop catfish.

"If I'm catching a few fish late in the summer, I won't ever leave them to go fish birds I see diving."

Williams says stealth is of the essence in bird fishing — to avoid spooking the birds as much as the trout.

"You need to give the birds time to get used to your presence," he said. "The trout may stick around in the area, but if the birds leave, you've got no way of telling exactly where the trout are."

If the wind and current are pushing toward the flock, he'll cut his engine at least 75 yards from the activity.

"The longer it takes you to get to the flock, the better off you are," he said.

Stealthiness is also essential when using Williams' third bait choice — a 3/4-ounce gold spoon.

"That bait, believe it or not, does catch trout, but it's a proven redfish producer," he said. "I fish it on guide trips, in tournaments — whenever I want to put some redfish in the boat."

Gold spoons work in open bays and lakes around points, pockets and grass beds, but they really shine in the ponds, Williams said.

His favorite technique is to kill his outboard at the entrance of a pond, and simply wait and watch.

"If you just watch the pond for a few minutes, the redfish will give themselves away," he said. "We are so spoiled in Louisiana; we have to learn to slow down a little bit and be patient. One reason anglers from other states come here and do well is because they're patient. They're used to waiting and working hard for fish. We don't do that."

Williams says the fish will bite in a pond whether the water is rising or falling, just as long as it's moving.

He alters where he fishes depending on the tidal situation, however.

"With a falling tide, you've got to focus on the trenasses and nutria ruts," he said. "The redfish will gang up there to feed on the bait coming out of the marsh.

"On a rising tide, you want to fish the points."

Whenever fishing a point, Williams always retrieves his bait with the current.

"Fish are lazy," he said. "One of the few universals in fishing is that fish always face into the current. They're tucked behind those points waiting for bait to come around (the points)."

And frequently, those baits belong to Williams.

Good thing. It's only a couple of hours until dinner, and there ain't no Long John Silver's in 1906.


To book a trip with Capt. Gerald Ellender, call 985-688-1715; to book a trip with Capt. C.T. Williams, call 504-610-6914.