Over a ritual pretrip supper with relatives at Leeville Seafood Restaurant in Leeville, Ricky Ruffin talked about his love affair with Louisiana fishing and cooking.
The life-long Mississippian divulged that he was introduced to fishing out of Fourchon in 1970 by his cousins Jimmy and Jerry “Moose” Ruffin.
Their fishing then was with famed charter Capt. Charlie Hardison.
The roots of the Ruffin expeditions go even deeper than that, Moose explained.
“My daddy took Jimmy and me offshore fishing when we were about 13,” he said. “He liked it and we liked it.
“He would head offshore with a 25-foot Reinell hull with nothing on it but a compass. He said if you headed north you were bound to hit dirt somewhere.”
By 2005, Jimmy and Moose slowed their offshore forays, and Ricky came into his own, chartering an average of four trips a year — all with Ed Frekey of Tuna Time Charters.
“I fish out of Louisiana because it’s the best fishing I have ever found, and I have fished all over the country,” Ricky said. “If someone invites me, I go to Florida, but I never catch any fish there to amount to anything.”
Ricky enjoys elk and deer hunting, and manages 1,500 acres in his home state for deer. An he compared his offshore fishing to elk hunting.
“Fighting a big wahoo or amberjack is better than killing an elk,” he said. “I don’t get the rush from the elk.
“I don’t fish for speckled trout or redfish, either, because I don’t get that adrenaline flow. I especially love offshore jigging. When you jig up a good fish, it’s better than anything — I mean anything.”
But there’s more to his love of offshore fishing.
“The eating is very important to me, too,” Ricky said. “I fish for sport, but I eat fish twice a week. My wife Pam and I both cook. I do the fish entrees and she does the serve-alongs.”
See this month’s Louisiana Seafood Bible for some of Ricky and Pam’s recipes.
The relationship between Ricky and Ed Frekey is unique.
“Ricky is not just a customer by any stretch of the definition,” Frekey said. “He’s family. He and his family have adopted my wife and me.
“Ricky invited me to come and hunt with him in Mississippi; I shot my first 8-point. Now I have a house in the Antioch community near Bay Springs. I have 300 acres, but I still hunt on Ricky’s property.”
Like Ricky, Frekey was attracted to Louisiana’s offshore fishing. Born in New Hampshire, he served in the U.S. Coast Guard until recently retiring.
In 2001, he married Rachel LaCoste, a Morgan City girl.
When the Coast Guard gave him an option to move, he chose Louisiana and began guiding 13 years ago — part-time until he retired from the service.
While he often takes Ricky bottom-fishing and rig-fishing, his self-described specialty is trolling for pelagic species: tuna, wahoo, billfish and dolphin.