DIY Louisiana Trip
So recently myself, a buddy from Colorado who just moved to NC and Captain John Mauser of Mauser Fly Fishing (www.mauserflyfishing.com), took a trip down to Louisiana in search of monster redfish on fly. John was the only one of us who had even been down to that area to fish, but none of us had fished the area where we were going... straight to the End of the World.. Delacroix, Louisiana.
Now being this was a first time for all of us, we of course figured it was the best idea to just DIY the trip. All of us are fishing bums so saving money is the name of the game. So first things first, we had to settle on an area to fish. John had fished out of Hopedale before and had few spots that he knew produced on his earlier trip. We called around to a few people we knew down that direction, asked a BUNCH of questions and figured we would try some new ground. So we decided on Delacroix and we were not disappointed. We had to find lodging first, there's a couple camps down that direction but we ending up staying at The Delacroix Lodge, www.thedelacroixlodge.com. The room was plenty spacious with two sets of bunk beds, full bathroom, table and small kitchen which housed a two burner stove top, fridge, microwave and coffee pot and also a small selection of dishes, glassware and flatware for any cooking needs. Overall we were very happy with the accommodations. There was parking for the truck and trailer, we got a wet slip for the boat (which we didn't use) and charging stations to re-up the trolling motor batteries if we needed. The closest ramp was right down the street and had just the necessities, fuel, ice and a ramp to dunk at. Perfect set up actually.
So we found our lodging, first step was complete. Then began the eye melting jobs of starting at google maps and getting GPS coordinates from some folks and making plans on where to go. It's a never ending expanse of marsh down there, so maps started to blend together and everything looked the same to us. We knew we had some long runs ahead of us each day, so packing the skiff turned into a puzzle. We brought WAY to much gear, I think we had 11 fly rods of all different weights, a couple spin rods (just in case), at least 13,498 flies, enough leader and tippet to wrap around the earth 7 times and enough camera equipment to film a high budget blockbuster movie.
The truck was fueled up, loaded to the teeth, skiff hooked up and ready to roll. So what was the most reasonable way to make a 17 hour journey? Leave at midnight, survive on fast food, Red Bull and cold Swiss Rolls. We got to know a lot about each other for the first few hours, then whoever was driving starting to bob their head and it was lights out. I had the privilege to drive first, so I was amped up enough I didn't mind a little nap from everyone else. However 10 hours into the drive, it was time to switch up. We stopped at a local fly shop outside of New Orleans for some advice, picked up a t-shirt and kept on trucking! We were getting closer so the excitement started to build with everyone. Then..... HOME SWEET HOME. We arrived at the lodge with enough time to start preparing and rigging for the trip. The cool part was when we pulled up, we saw another East Cape Skiff at the cabin next to us. It turned out to be Alex Horton and Lawson Builder with the Flood Tide Co. (www.floodtideco.com) crew down there doing the same thing we were. After some intel was exchanged, we made the plan to head straight out the canal to the gulf and start our search in the morning.
Everyone slept like a rock the first night and woke up ready to roll first thing. We loaded the skiff down, ate some oatmeal and nabs and dunked the skiff. Motor was running, hopes were high and the throttle was pinned. It was about a 30 minute ride to get to where we would start. Once out in the open, it turned into "pick a bank and pole". Right off the bat Dallas landed an absolute MONSTER, all 9" of pure power, haha. What a way to start the trip! We decided to let him stay up front since we weren't really counting that fish. What we discovered really quick was we needed clear water. We had some murky, discolored water were we were the first day. Now yes we caught fish, plenty of fish, but no monsters on day one. So when we got back that evening, we made a few calls and decided it was time for a quick change. Hopedale.
Day two we trailered up to Hopedale and started our search there. We were told to look for a group of white PVC poles and circle that. Now if you've ever gone out of Hopedale, you may be laughing to yourself right now. There were millions of PVC poles, it was a maze out there. We hit this bank and that bank and circled this island and ran to the next island. Still catching fish but no bulls. We pulled up to this one cove and instantly blew several BIG fish out. We poled around hoping they would show back up but no love, so we continued out search. Wouldn't you know it, we found the Flood Tide boys! We got a call over the radio, "is that the Swansboro boys"? We knew we were in a good spot then. We watched them hook up to a big black drum, fight it for 10 minutes then break off so we were hopeful that there were big fish around. But still no love. We did have much clearer water so we kept looking. Finally the day was coming to a close so we decided to search the cove where we blew those big fish out earlier in the day. We motored up to the island, John jumped on the poling platform and it was my turn up front. BOOM, smoke everywhere in the water. We spooked them again. Bummer...or so I thought. I made a few blind casts just praying for something then it happened. I was striping and then something stopped... could it be.... really could it? I pulled tight and we were off to the races! We knew it was a healthy fish, but didn't really know until he came to the surface for his first roll, thats when I started shaking a bit. Stay calm, keep tight, just do what I needed to do. John jumped down and helped boat the fish, and I mean.... well I don't know the words to describe that feeling. I was overjoyed to land the biggest redfish of my life on fly. Now to some he may not be a monster, but at 38 1/2"... he was to me. Only a thousand photos later and he was back in the water ready to fight another day. So we switched places and John was up casting. Not even really paying much attention and he came tight! Did we find the honey hole? Everyone was PUMPED! John's big fish came to the boat, I jumped down to land it and what a pretty fish! All spotted up, just a mean bugger! His largest on the fly right after mine, now thats success! A couple thousand more pictures and the fish was released. Now Dallas' turn. At this point we had maybe 20 minutes of daylight left. We searched and searched and searched but to love avail. So we decided day three would be Dallas' day.
Day three was a little different than the other two. We had some wind, serious wind. The water turned to pure crap. We made the decision to stay around Delacroix because of weather. We didn't to far our because of chop, but managed to catch slot fish all day. Now a slot fish down in LA is still a healthy fish, makes our home waters seem like the baby pool. A 24" fish that weighs 8-10 pounds is an absolute blast on fly. We took turned plucking fish all day and decided to call it an early day so we could get some sleep for the 17 hour ride back.
Would I drive 34 hours for 36 hours of fishing again? You bet your sweet rear end I would. The fishing was good, not phenomenal but it was the journey that will stick with me for the rest of my life. The friendships that grew, the stories that we are still telling each other, the night in New Orleans (I left that out for good reason) and the overall sense of accomplishment that comes into just hooking the skiff up and going somewhere and producing solid numbers of quality fish are what it was about. Each person probably spend around the $500 mark for a week trip to Louisiana, thats including fuel, food, lodging, license and fun money. Not to bad if you ask me. Now the only thing I would do different..... I'd have a ton of bags of pineapple juice and sunflower seeds for Captain Mauser..... ask him about it some day, it'll give you a good laugh!
*Some photos courtesy of Captain John Mauser of Mauser Fly Fishing and Tailing Tide Guide Service*