This angler and his two buddies fish the east side of the river because it has an endless number of quality spots.
I’ve got to admit that when Allen Dupont called to tell me to meet him and his two fishing buddies at Breton Sound Marina at 4:30 a.m., I thought that we would sit around and shoot the bull until it got light enough to run.
Instead, we took off as soon as Dupont poured the live shrimp into the baitwell of Chris Vincent’s Triton bay boat. Our planned trip two weeks earlier that would have been under the influences of the full moon had been pushed back to the end of July, and the Spoil Canal couldn’t have been any darker.
Bobby Chandler turned around on his perch atop the ice chest in front and not so subtly let Vincent know that he wanted him to be careful.
“You know I trust you, Chris. I’m putting my life in your hands,” he quipped.
I was putting my life in his hands, too, but I couldn’t say I trusted him. Heck, I had just met all three of these guys only minutes before. I didn’t know any of them from Adam, but I was all in.
The straight edges of the Spoil Canal were comforting under the illumination of the Q-beam that Dupont was holding. He shined it toward the right a little bit and then back to the left. Our only real obstacle in the canal was a stray crab trap buoy or two.
Then we turned out of the Spoil Canal and began running through a maze of bayous, canals and lakes that turned up my pucker factor more than just a little bit.
The Lake Fortuna rig lights flickered on and off like fireflies in the predawn darkness. None of us dared mouth an oh or an ah, though, for fear one of the millions of flying bugs zooming toward the boat would slam into the backs of our throats.
Vincent finally broke the silence.
“It’s really not too bad,” he insisted with one eye on the water and the other on his GPS track, “as long as you take it easy and go slow.
“There’s a big concrete culvert up here on the right we’ve got to watch out for — only inches under the water.”
Although I thought at that point about asking him to stop until it got light enough to see what the heck we were doing, I looked at Dupont, Vincent and Chandler a little bit more closely but didn’t see one bit of anxiety or fear in what I could make out of their faces.
They had made this run from Breton Sound Marina to Battledore Reef before, and they knew what kind of action awaited us at the end of our jet-black journey. I might have been in the dark, but they weren’t.
Dupont, who lives in Destrehan and works in the engineering and construction field, knew that fishing Breton Sound on a Saturday during the summer meant we weren’t going to be the only ones on the water, and he wanted to beat the crowd to Battledore.
Fishing during the week isn’t an option for him or his two fishing buddies because they are all working men. Chandler is an electrical engineer from Metairie, and Vincent is a registered nurse who works for the Department of Health and Hospitals.
They fish when they can, and that means on the weekends with every other Tom, Dick and Harry that has run out of vacation days and can no longer call in sick.
As we approached Battledore Reef, it looked like just about every other weekend angler had the same idea as Dupont, but had launched a lot closer. One boat was already sitting right on top of the spot where Vincent wanted to anchor, so he idled around to the other side and took his spot among the growing crowd.
Although the water surrounding the structure was around 9 feet deep, the trio of anglers were fishing live shrimp about 2 to 3 feet under popping corks. It didn’t take long for their corks to start going under, but the action wasn’t nearly as fast as they had hoped it would be.
Perhaps the trout felt a little bombarded by all the corks hitting the water. At one count, there were 14 corks surrounding the structure, and if you looked away for a moment, it was difficult to tell which cork was yours when you looked back.
The flotilla of boats eventually began to dwindle one by one as it became evident that the bite was slower than expected. Dupont, Vincent and Chandler stuck it out as long as they were getting a bite every now and then, but the action soon slowed to a crawl.
“I’ve got a shell pad marked that’s out in open water,” Vincent offered as Chandler began pulling in the anchor. “Haven’t fished it in a while, but there could be some trout on it. Might as well give it a shot while we’re here.”
His memory was on the money, but the boat was anchored just a little bit too far off the reef. We could tell where it was because there were signs of actively feeding fish on top of the reef.
Two bull reds later, Vincent began wondering if the bulls had moved in a little earlier than normal this year.
“They move in to a lot of these spots around the near islands and reefs during August,” he said. “If there already here, I imagine we’re going to find them at most of the other spots we’re going to fish today.”
Since no trout were present in this unidentified reef, Dupont suggested the crew run in towards Pointe a La Hache and try some areas that Vincent had identified as possible school trout holes with the possibility of catching some smaller redfish and maybe some flounder.
Muddy water kept us from tearing up the fish, but we did catch a few redfish in closer, but the fishing partners eventually decided it was time to run back out to Stone Island to put some numbers in the box.
The lee side of Stone Island looked like the showroom of a used boat dealer, and Dupont realized that Frank Davis had featured the island that week in his Fishin’ Game report.
We chose the windy side of the island to get out of the crowd, and the anglers picked up a smattering of trout by fishing live shrimp under corks and dragging a few shrimp on bottom with a drop-shot rig.
After moving around to the other side of Stone Island to fish a platform and picking up a few more trout, Vincent suggested we head to Mozambique Point to try a couple more school trout spots.
A few surfacing porpoises swimming around our target island just off the southern side of Mozambique Point gave us hope for some faster action. They were the first we had seen all day long, and Dupont hoped that they were there for the same reason we were — to get some trout.
Although we caught redfish, trout and flounder around this tiny island, the bull reds soon moved in, and the anglers just couldn’t keep them off their lines. Rather than fight the big reds, the crew chose to make a last stop at another small, unnamed island on the north side of Mozambique Point.
They caught a few short trout and decided to wrap up their day.
“How’d we do compared to how y’all thought we would do?” I later asked back at Breton Sound Marina.
“We had a great day hanging out with friends in a boat,” Chandler quipped. “We caught fish, but we usually do a lot better.”
“We didn’t do bad,” Dupont interjected. “I would have liked to have done better.
“Now if we look at what others did, I think we did as good as or better than a lot of the other boats around here. We were expecting about 60 or 70 trout because we had 25 in an hour and a half just last weekend before the tide stopped moving, and it was a different tide. It was falling last weekend, but it was coming in today.”
As weekend anglers, Dupont, Vincent and Chandler more often than not choose to fish the east side of the Mississippi River because of the myriad options for catching fish. Their simple reasoning is that if one place isn’t producing, all they’ve got to do is run to another.
“You’ve got the far outside deep water big fish,” Dupont said. “You’ve got the mid area that’s still bay area where you can catch decent ones. And you can come inside for big fish in the winter and school trout during the summer. You can go anywhere you want and as far as your boat can take you.”
But even with as many options as there are to fish the Breton Sound area, as we found out this day, it seems like everybody knows the hotspots.
Put in the same amount of work and miles as these three fishing buddies do, though, and you will find some kind of fish somewhere.
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