Sunday, October 12, 2014

Phantom Railcar to the Delta

Exploring South Louisiana with my Dad.

Never underestimate the baroque power of a  chunk of Iowa woods. I met up with my family for 2 days in Iowa before driving south to New Orleans with my dad. This is an old wooden railcar we discovered in high school near a favorite swimming hole. We found cowboy toys and old record player and Playboys from the 50's. I returned 20 years later to find it sinking but intact.

Cray Cray.   In the Marigny, New Orleans. This neigborhood - just east of the French Quarter - is a delight to the senses. I highly recommend Mimi's bar and Bargain Center thrift. Both great recommendations from New Orleans resident Dulcie Dick via a good friend Amy Putney.
Every god damned square inch of the French Quarter...Just thick with it man.  Could not get enough on a quiet morning
Place d'Armes Hotel.  in pool....exhaling
Cypress Cove.  Saltwater gators are normally shy. So - Some gator sightings - maybe 10 the whole trip -  but we arrived 5 days after gator hunting season so they were extra shy.
Riding out to fish some vast expanses of really shallow water. At the edge of the Gulf of Mexico the Mississippi craggles out into an endless maze.  The water smells like green salt blood - all the nutrients of a nation dumping into the sea. Of course I felt really at home here.
Working boats everywhere.  Oysters, Blue Crabs, Shrimp. Often the food we had was astounding. Prejeans in Lafayette was incredible.
Brian Esposito's flats boat - with poling platform in back. This guide rocks. He is part of a group of 4 guys that come over from FL to guide on the shallow water bull reds from Oct 1 to Thanksgiving. Brian is booked solid the entire time.
Fly Sight fishing to Bull Redfish. Almost nothing better in fishing. Brain Esposito spots individual cruising fish at about 100 yards out. You wait to cast until you can land the fly directly in front of them and then generally strip as fast as you can. And then hang on and watch all of your stripped line bandsaw back out through your hand when they hit. Then the fish hits your drag and that sweet sound of a tortured clicking drag on a massive fly reel.  damn.

Better have a 9 weight rod. Brian said "50 feet at 9 O'clock !  Drop it! Pop it !"  And the water exploded as the fish pulled the fly off the surface and then a ton of line off the reel. These fish were busting on mullet and came ready to play hard and fast  - behaving more like a Jack Crevalle by running down mullet in open water. 
Huge huge  grasshoppers near the Halliburton compound at Venice. All of the areas we visited were basically just oil refineries and seafood production.
My dad trying boiled peanuts in a cemetery south of Houma, LA. Spanish moss dripping from Live Oak.
Star Destroyer. Working boats at Bayou Du Large, LA. Some of these rough looking guys told me they get 45 to 80 sacks - big burlap bags of oysters per day.... And the street value of those on Bourbon Street is $$$$.  It made me want to help them Unionize... hahaha !

That moment when you are electrified by a fish.
A rodbreaker..... the guides rod.... I guess honey badger better step up to meet the Black Drum.
Shrine at the canal. Bayou Du Large had 3 churches and no convenience store.
Swamp Lily. I'll have what I'm having.
Tagging Redfish with Captain Bill Lake.  Of the thickest cajun cracker accents in the world.
A Sheepshead caught by my dad at Grosse Savanne.  At 17,000 acres this private reserve moved with life all over the bay bottom unlike anything I have ever seen.  The guide - Mike - tossed a throw net and caught prawn-sized shrimp all over the place almost everywhere in about 5' of water ... solidly primeval.
Baby Gator Gar. still cute size.  And yes they will hit flies. 

Inside the railcar.
A couple more from the rail car. Ghosts of an old horse pen and an ancient Schwinn bike. And there was a plank that read "J & K Railway New Orleans, USA"
Hood of the low rider from my last post.  In memory of mother.
I'd hit that. Pulled this pinata out of an Iowa ditch on an early morning run. Interesting  thing happened to me through online dating... I developed a huge crush on someone I met right before I left on this trip. I was even accused in Bill Lake's thick thick cajun of being distracted from fishing by this girl's texts.
Exploring Grande Isle, LA.  Dolphins were working the mullet using synchronized feeding. A pleasure to watch but absolutely nothing more terrifying for fish than dolphins on the prowl. I've seen them jump into the trees in the Everglades to get away from dolphins. Fall had not really begun here yet.  The really big redfish had not moved into the shallows. But the big schools of mullet were doing their methodical migrations just beyond the shorebreak.

My dad and I played "Name that Tune" in as few notes as possible on the drive down. Ironic that I got Sharp Dressed Man fairly quickly but Wayward Son took a bit longer.  Cedar River Backwater, Cedar County, Iowa. Winchester 70 and fun with GoPro.

Fish No Demon Harder.  Fishing over for now.  Fishing go Bye Bye. We killed the fishing and it did it for me for a long time.  My dear awesome friends that are winter steelheaders... I shall live vicariously through you for the next few months or so.  The fishing monster that dragged on my soul slipped backwards into that gulf and closed it's eyes.

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