A group of Wounded Warriors enjoyed a special day on the water Saturday, resulting in 250 trout and several redfish hitting the dock in Shell Beach.
The St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office, headed by Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann and a support crew of volunteers and deputies, sponsored the special fishing event and luncheon for the veterans.
The air was cold and the skies were overcast as our squad of four boats meandered through a maze of bayous and no-name ponds and washouts in the Biloxi Marsh. The plan was to fish the deeper water of the main bayous by looking for cleaner water and signs of bait. We soon found both and the boat armada spread out to fish.
Our tactic was to anchor close to the bank with the wind at our back and cast towards the opposite bank. We fished under corks with a variety of baits at first, mostly plastics, but it was soon apparent that the biggest fish and the most consistent bites were coming from the Matrix Shad baits in shrimp creole. Everybody aboard switched to that lure, and we soon had speckled trout flying across the gunnel.
Capt. Casey Kieff took two of the veterans aboard his boat: Mike Gary from Maurice, who was wounded in Iraq, and Logan Hathorn of Hattisburg, Miss., also wounded in Iraq. I joined them, along with Sheriff Pohlmann and Lt. Robert Broadhead.
Gary was trying his best to catch trout on a freshwater spincasting rig he’d brought along with him, but the rod was as stiff as a broom handle and offered no action whatsoever. We switched him to a light tackle spinning reel and he started reeling in trout as fast as he could cast out, so your gear does make a difference.
Hathorn was quiet for most of the trip out, but once he started catching fish a smile stretched across his face that stayed there the rest of the day.
The second boat in our armada, a 24-foot NauticStar, was captained by Terry Taylor, and warriors Mark Broda, Rock Murphy and Truman Schultz rounded out the crew.
A Triton carried the third group, comprised of Mike Pais, a sniper in Afghanistan and Iraq, Ken Murphy, who served on tanks, Eric Dalsin, a retired SEAL and Charlie, who spent 18 years with the NOPD.
The last boat, a 24’ Ranger Bay, was guided by Sterling Cardon Jr. and his son Nicolas, who served 15 months in Iraq. Toy Tufaro and Kenny Zulli rounded out his crew.
Allen Pohlmann, the Sheriff’s brother, organized and coordinated the event, and arranged a boiled shrimp and crab luncheon provided by Craig Napoli with beverages by Meraux Food Store. Free boat launches and live shrimp came gratis of Campo’s Marina in Shell Beach.
The Wounded Warrior Project originated back in 2003 with a handful of returning wounded vets from Afghanistan and Iraq. Their purpose was and is to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members from all branches of the military, to help injured servicemen and women to help each other and to provide programs and services to meet their needs.
What started small is today a project that helps tens of thousands of wounded service members and their families each year.
Louisiana Sportsman salutes our Wounded Warriors, and all of our veterans for their sacrifices and dedicated service.