About a week ago, two of our favorite fishing buddies went to Louisiana to chase Bull Reds, and had quite a time. Dr. (he didn’t go to 6 years of evil medical school to be called “Mr.” thank you) Dennis Burns and Bill Seals. Here is the report from Dennis, and a few mind-blowing pictures to boot:
Sometimes it’s tempting to grumble about fly fishing options in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, particularly during the ’80 degree-one-day-freezing-your-butt-off-the-next-day’ fluctuations that we usually see around here this time of year. It turns out that great fishing isn’t as far off as I thought. A few months ago, my fishing buddy and spiritual advisor (OK, I’m kidding about the spiritual advisor part) Bill Seals contacted David Leake about whether there were any saltwater options within easy striking distance of Dallas that offered (a) good fishing, (b) reasonable accommodations and (c) good food. Without missing a beat, David said, ‘Sure! I’ll set it up.’ Thus began our first trip to the Louisiana coast to visit the Woodland Plantation and to fish with Capt. Bryan Carter. An 80-minute flight from Dallas to New Orleans, followed by an easy 45-minute drive south (punctuated by a fuel stop at Cafe du Monde and a neat visit to the National World War II Museum) took us to the Woodland Plantation, a mid 1800s inn outside of Port Sulphur that offers guests comfortable rooms, and superb food and drink at very reasonable prices. Many of you have probably seen the Woodland Plantation without knowing it – it’s pictured in a line drawing on the label of every bottle of Southern Comfort! After fortifying ourselves with such spirits, a great evening meal and a restful night, Bill and I hooked up with Bryan early the next morning for an introduction to south Louisiana Redfish on the fly. To experience Bryan in a guide situation is memorable – he’s got the sharp eyes and instincts for finding fish that you would expect from a veteran saltwater guide, coupled with a deep knowledge and appreciation of the beautiful – and fragile – ecosystem represented by the coastal Louisiana saltwater flats. He shares his knowledge freely and well. He’s also enough of a smart-aleck to keep you humble – and in stitches – through the whole fishing experience. Man, can he put you on to fish!
My most memorable Red came on the first day…..something about beginner’s luck, I think. My story, of course, is that I had to cast 800 feet into a 30 MPH headwind to hook the fish, while my buddy Bill’s story has the fish ramming into the boat, knocking itself out, and me reaching over the side and inserting a hook into its mouth. The truth is somewhere between – perhaps a bit closer to Bill’s version than mine. I hooked the fish at a fairly modest distance on an EP (Enrico Puglisi) crab pattern that Bryan favors this time of year, and after a bit of a fight (during which I wondered if my 8-weight Scott S4 was going to survive), managed to bring him to the boat – a beautiful 34-pound fish that was, for me at least, the fish of a lifetime!
Over the next couple of days, Bill and I had the privilege of landing many more beautiful reds in shallow water, as well as the occasional Black Drum and Sheepshead. Had our Redfishing skills been a bit more “honed” (as opposed to non-existent!) we would have more than doubled our numbers. Bryan – and the fishery – are just that good. The days on the flats ended at about 3:30 each day, once the angle of the light on the water made spotting fish a difficult proposition. Not a problem though – the days on the water were full of wonderful fishing and experiencing the special environment of the coastal Louisiana saltwater flats, and the hospitality of the Woodland Plantation was there for us at the end of each day. We’ll be back! – Dennis