Do you remember how we used to try to fix things by hitting them? We’d smack the side of the old TV to straighten out the picture or hit the radio when it wouldn’t pick up a signal.
Nothing was spared. Everything from washing machines to the old car could be cured of any ailment with a well-placed kick or a smack.
I reminded myself of this recently when planning for some September fishing.
Why? Because September is stubborn, like a defiant child.
You might want to smack some sense into it, but unfortunately you can’t.
September is like the radio that keeps losing the signal. It’ll play fine for a bit, and then the signal goes in and out before falling into static and silence.
Frustratingly inconsistent, to say the least — much like the fishing action in September.
Add to that the fact that this month is sullen, moody, sweltering hot, humid and ill tempered, being that it’s the busiest month of the year for those dreaded tropical weather systems and their blustery winds that ruin our Gulf and coastal waters for weeks at a time.
It’s why we anglers have come to dread September’s arrival, and celebrate its departure.
But if there is a silver lining in this cloud, it’s Barataria Bay.
The trout are still parked out there in great numbers and very respectable sizes, gorging themselves on shrimp and pogies and croakers and everything else they can swallow.
And to catch them, all you have to do is hit it often and early and armed to the teeth with live bait.
Do that and you will catch trout this month.
Barataria Bay is large, salty, shallow and accessible from many ports. Grand Isle, Lafitte, Port Sulfur and Myrtle Grove are all a half hour or so by boat from it.
But wherever you launch you’ll have to travel across a lot of open water, so you need a decent day to make the trip.
The key is that, when you get one of those days with milder winds, you have to go for it. Give the big bay a smack, and see if it doesn’t spit out some trout.
Trout are precisely what I had in mind when I contacted Kevin and Mike Crossen, two brothers who are Jefferson Parish firefighters and charter guides operating out of Myrtle Grove.
Mike’s 24-foot Skeeter Bay boat was idling at the dock when I arrived, and he and younger brother Kevin welcomed me aboard.
Our plan was simple: Head straight to Barataria Bay and smack the trout.
But the skies dead ahead were dark and ominous, and quite a bit of lightening was flashing in the distance. Those clouds had the winds and waters all stirred up, as well, and we wondered whether or not we’d even make it to our target site — the old LaRocca’s Camp near Four Bayous.
Fortunately, we made it, and Mike set the dual Power-Poles down to hold us steady in a sizable chop.
The winds, already blustery, were building rapidly and the darkening skies were getting closer.
We made a few quick casts that resulted in almost immediate hits from good-sized specks when lightening flashed nearby and the accompanying cold downdraft sent us scurrying for cover.
Unfortunately, none was to be found because our iPhone radar showed this approaching storm was not an isolated thunderstorm but a nasty system of wicked weather, complete with a trailing effect building behind it.
There was no place to run but back to the dock, and we barely beat the weather in.
A little disappointment happens to everybody on occasion.
The fish were definitely out there, but bad weather trumps everything. I hold to the motto, “Live to fish another day.”
So that means sometimes, as Kenny Rogers says, you just have to know when to fold ’em.
But you know the old adage, if at first you don’t succeed ….
So we tried again. Only this time the weather actually lived up to the forecast of light winds and calmer seas — and when we arrived at LaRocca’s Camp, nary a boat was in sight.
Mike parked the Skeeter exactly where we were on the previous trip, and we started catching fish immediately.
This time, however, Kevin was vacationing in Florida, so we took Vic Rodrigue along in his stead.
Vic is a longtime friend and co-laborer at our church in Kenner, and he caught the first fish — a hefty trout.
The Crossen brothers equip their boats with Penn Battle Reels mounted on Castaway rods strung up with PowerPro Slick, and they use long-casting Rage popping corks made by Mid-Coast Products.
Vic and Mike loaded their Kahle hooks with live shrimp, while I tossed a white Vudu shrimp that also dangled beneath a popping cork, as per the captain’s instructions.
LaRocca’s Camp is a well-known spot to local anglers, but it’s actually not a camp at all.
At one time it obviously was, although by the look of the numerous pilings stretching out for 100 yards or so it was perhaps a few camps, all on a small piece of shell island.
Today nothing remains but a plethora of pilings, both above and below the surface, and a host of huge rocks and debris of all kinds lurking just beneath the surface.
Needless to say, proceed with caution.
In addition, there is still a sizable portion of shell pad protruding above the surface — and all of that combined structure attracts fish.
Mike said specks and reds roam all around this hotspot this month, and live shrimp under corks is the best approach to catching them without snagging the debris-laden bottom.
“You need two things to catch fish out here this month: clean water and calm seas,” his brother Kevin had told me. “If you have that going for you, you should find some fish.
“Live shrimp is the best bet, but once I locate fish I’ll often start throwing some plastics under a cork, also.”
His favorite plastic? H&H beetles in chartreuse ice or clear. He uses a double rig with 1/8- or 1/16-ounce jigheads under a cork.
It was quickly apparent that live shrimp topped the fish’s menu of the day, and while I did catch some fish on my plastic, the live stuff beat me by a margin of 3 or 4 to 1.
So, I switched to join the fray.
We stayed in that spot and put about 25 nice specks in the box before the action petered out.
After 15 or 20 minutes of throwbacks and hardheads, the captain started trolling around the structure.
Extreme caution is urged here — we bumped into a couple subsurface pilings, and scraped bottom on one of many huge rocks that lie just out of sight.
After we’d moved around about 50 yards, our corks started disappearing again, so down went the Power-Poles and we stayed right there and smacked them.
But the charter guiding brothers said LaRocca’s Camp is just one of several areas that will produce fish in Barataria Bay this month.
Speckled trout No. 75 hit the ice chest by 9:30 a.m., and we picked up to go.
A couple other boats had pulled up while we were fishing, and the one closest to us was also having good success putting speck after speck aboard.
It convinced me that Barataria Bay is the place to be this month
All you have to do is hit it.
Editor’s note: Capt. Mike Crossen with GNO Outfitters can be reached at 504-256-2983, while Capt. Kevin Crossen with Shallow Water Guide Service can be reached at 504-259-7693.