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Fear And Loathing On The Water

WHEN THINGS GO BADLY, YOU’VE GOT TO STAY POSITIVE AND TURN YOUR TRIP AROUND. The sky is clear. Mangrove leaves glow in early morning sun. Dirty brown water floods the mud flats of Delacroix, Louisiana. I take in the view from the poling platform while struggling to move the boat against a twenty MPH wind. The last few days have been challenging, to say the least. We’ve battled the thunderstorms and wind, poor light and water clarity, and today the water temperature has dropped ten degrees. We were chased out of Venice when the Mississippi rose nine feet and landed here, where at least we know a couple of spots. The whole trip has been a mess and I’ve spent most of it on the platform. On the morning of this, the third day, I have only landed one redfish and I’m looking to turn things around. I pole the boat into a sweet looking spot where the lee of a small island meets the mouth of a creek. It looks too good to not hold fish. My buddies Scott and Daren have given up on their fly rods and gone over to the dark side, throwing spoons and jigs on gear rods. Daren fires a cast into the creek and Scott casts to the island. Both lines come tight and we have a legitimate double in the first thirty minutes of fishing. My shoulders relax and I think that today things just might turn around. I spin the push pole in my hands and sink the point into the soft bottom to hold the boat while my friends land their fish. That’s when I hear a loud snap and the pole is suddenly free in my hand. There’s no managing a flats boat in strong wind with a broken push pole. We spend most of day three riding back to the dock, driving a half hour to the nearest hardware store and fixing the pole. By afternoon, when we return to the flats, things have changed and there isn’t a redfish to be found. I blind cast wildly to fishy looking water while a pounding rises in my ears. My frustration becomes palpable and my casting sloppy. We call the day around 3:30 when the boats wiring starts acting up. I ride back to the dock in a state of self loathing. Voices of negativity singing choruses in my head. Feeling sorry for myself like a little bitch. Just a week earlier I was swinging flies for steelhead on the Deschutes river in Oregon. Conditions were tough there too. I’d taken my friend Andy Bowen for his first west coast steelhead trip, to learn how to cast a two hander and swing flies from Jeff Hickman, who taught me. Andy was on the board early with two nice fish. His first, a wild buck, handed him his ass early in the fight, almost spooling him. The look on Andy’s face was priceless. He kept his cool and, with constant coaching from Jeff, landed the fish. It was a perfect first steelhead experience. I always choose my words carefully when Sourced from: Gink and Gasoline