Watching a group of trained hawks swoop down on fleeing rabbits is unlike anything else in hunting.
Good-looking waitresses and bartenders get hit on multiple times every shift. The reasons are obvious: The girl breaks the ice, she’s necessarily friendly, and she’s willing to take orders. That’s exactly the opposite of how things work in the dating world, so somewhere deep in the recesses of our male minds, something clicks that tells us this smoking-hot babe HAS to be interested in us.
A few years ago, that’s exactly what happened to Jason Bernosky while he was sitting at the bar in a Denver-area TGI Friday’s. The blonde beauty tipping bottles and sliding drinks caught his fancy, and he threw out his best pickup line.
She nibbled, and he poured on the charm, setting the hook on a relationship that has resulted in a marriage and two rough-and-tumble blonde-headed boys.
I discovered that story yesterday (Jan. 24) while fishing with Bernosky, and it was the first of two axioms I was reminded of during the day. Namely, every rule has exceptions.
The Rule: Hitting on waitresses and bartenders is such background noise that it’s a waste of breath. The Exception: It worked for Bernosky.
The second rediscovery involved how blessed we are here in South Louisiana, and how much fun it is to view our marshes and experience our unrivaled fisheries through fresh eyes.
Last week, I received an email from my cousin Jessica (the former TGI Friday’s bartender), who informed me that she, her husband and sons would be in New Orleans this week for a business convention. Her husband, who I had never met, would have his days free, and since he’s an avid outdoorsman, she wondered if I could take him to shoot or catch something.
I was eager to help – until I checked the long-range forecast. The only weather window appeared to be Monday, and that, of course, coincided with a tide flatter than a flour tortilla. The rest of the week would be cold, windy and miserable.
I told Jessica we’d work something out, and eventually settled on a Monday fishing trip. Even on bad-tide days, water will move through choke points, and it’s immeasurably easier to catch fish on a day with a southeasterly breeze and rising temperatures than a northwesterly wind and falling temps.
So yesterday (Jan. 24), Jason met me at my house at 5:30, and we made the short haul to Delacroix. Winds were manageable, and the water was slightly stained but moving as we pulled up to one of the cuts off of Oak River. Three of us had boated dozens of reds there a week earlier, and I expected the action to be similar.
The water had risen about 2 feet, and the reds had taken the opportunity to find food in the ponds. Still, Bernosky managed to put a keeper trout in the boat while casting for the reds.
We left the area, and drifted a favorite section of Oak River, where Bernosky caught two more keeper specks and one throwback. His guide for the day – esteemed editor of Louisiana Sportsman, author of Specks and self-proclaimed South Louisiana expert – had yet to put one in the boat.
Bernosky was inclined to make the drift again, but I was hopeful we could find some better action. Given the clarity of the water and the rising temperatures, I was confident the fish would be shallow, feeding over the oyster reefs in the lakes and bays.
So we moseyed up to Four Horse Lake, and I gave Bernosky a cork rig to tie on.
“This place is incredible,” he said while working on his improved clinch. “I can’t believe how good the fishing is here.”
Again, we had put a total of four fish in the boat, one of which was a throwback.
“To be honest, Jason,” I said, “this is a really bad day. It doesn’t get much worse than this.”
He was incredulous.
I made my first cast, popped my cork once, and finally broke the ice. Bernosky quickly followed with a keeper of his own.
We then proceeded to put 40 more trout in the box, and released another 18 to 20 throwbacks. Bernosky giggled like a tween schoolgirl on her first date, and started talking about moving to South Louisiana.
“A good day for me is five fish,” he said about the lakes and rivers in Colorado, “and a really good day is seven or 10.”
I then understood why he didn’t want to leave the spot in Oak River where he had boated three fish on a long drift. His day had already been made, while I was grumbling internally like a petulant trust-fund brat.
We finished the day back at the dock hand-feeding our fish carcasses to a mob of greedy pelicans, while Bernosky videoed every detail to show to his boys.
Skies were cloudy, and the rain spit on us intermittently throughout the trip, but for Jason Bernosky, it was a Chamber of Commerce day.
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