The redfish took off with the piece of crab on my line 30 feet below the boat. In that instance I set the hook.
What was weird was that just moments before three other outdoor writers and I were sitting patiently watching the sunrise while our guide Bill Lake explained what was going to happen.
I emphasize, “going to happen.”
I don’t know how it is for other anglers, but I always have this sort of mental checklist full of what ifs.
No, the owner of Bayou Guide Service was straightforward in letting us know exactly what the tide was going to do, the water depth we would be fishing and how we “would” catch redfish — simple as that.
“Oh, but if it was really that easy,” I thought to myself, “the world would be such a wonderful place.”
And then, as if on cue, redfish began to bite.
Lake’s introductory remarks were spot on.
A couple of the writers back to back had fish on right away. There was a moment when we even had a double going on outside the boat.
Then it was my turn.
The trip was part of the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association’s annual conference last August. The event happened to be in Houma, just north near Lake’s backyard in Bayou Dularge, which he simply refers to as “the DU.”
The strain on my pole let me know I had a good red. What’s more, I was in no hurry to get the fish into the boat.
There’s just something about those first few fish caught right after sunrise that, in my opinion, set the stage for good things to come the rest of the morning.
Lake netted my redfish, we quickly snapped a couple of pictures and I tossed my line back out.
Over the stretch of perhaps two hours, give or take, not only did our boat get a five-person limit of reds but so did our sister boat anchored maybe 30 feet away.
Back across the road from Lake’s Lake House Lodge, we all gathered on his wharf to take our pictures, laugh and talk about the morning’s events. I sat in amazement looking at 50 redfish.
I couldn’t believe we just caught those fish. That’s when a case of the “what ifs,” came to me.
“So, Bill,” I began, “What if we hadn’t caught our fish there this morning; what was going to be Plan B?”
“There was no Plan B,” Lake replied. “I knew we’d catch them.”
That’s when I rolled the thought around in my head that maybe he didn’t understand the question, so I repeated it, only slightly different.
“I know, Bill — but what if we didn’t?” I said.
“John, we caught our 50 fish there yesterday and the day before,” Lake said. “I knew we’d catch them.”
Clearly, we were having a communication problem. Not just us, but two other groups apparently had experienced the same thing we just did.
So, in rephrasing I said, “Bill, I know, but what if we hadn’t caught our fish there and what would have been the follow up plan?”
That’s when Lake finally admitted that he wasn’t gambling solely on that one hole.
“John, we have 15 to 18 spots GPS’ed down here below the DU where, had we not caught our fish, we’d have just gone to another spot,” he patiently explained. “We’d have caught our fish — especially this time of year.”
Lake said there is a specific time of year for this kind of confidence and definitely some things anglers can do during that time to increase their odds of hauling home ice chests full of fish in this region.
During our trip, we fished Blue Hammock Bayou. But all of the waters in the surrounding estuaries of this area can be as productive, the captain said.
“What helps the region out is we have Four League Bay that is just around the corner from where we were fishing,” Lake said. “It connects with Blue Hammock Bayou, Rice Bayou and Bayou Carencro.
“There is a tremendous amount of redfish to the west of Terrebonne Parish, and virtually that area is pretty much under-fished. There’s just not a whole lot of pressure down there.”
Other bayous off Four League Bay worth considering include Little Blue Hammock, Old Oyster Bayou, and Big Oyster Bayou.
We hit it just right during our trip. And the dog days of summer clearly had its impact on the redfish pattern.
“What happens at this time of year is the water temperature gets up to 88 degrees during the summer,” Lake said. “The fish come out of the shallow water in the bays and they’re seeking cooler water. These deep bayous that connect to Four League Bay offer deep water. The bay itself is not but 4 or 5 feet deep — that’s it. But, they migrate every year, two months out of the year, in August and September.
“They pile into these deep holes. After years of fishing and learning these areas, targeting 20- to 30-foot depths, it has allowed us to get pretty good at it.”
Pretty good at it was an understatement. The likely spots that Lake has charted allows his crew to daily target redfish seeking the cooler water, where ultimately his clientele smashes them.
I have to admit that this trip was about as easy as it gets. We weren’t fishing — we were catching.
“It’s critical for people to learn the area and what the tides are doing where they are fishing,” Lake said. “You have to know what to do on a daily basis. It’s never a given, but at least 80 percent of the time we catch.
“So, we have them figured out pretty good.”
Editor’s note: Capt. Bill Lake can be contacted at 985-851-6015 or at www.captlake.com.