Author: Cody Hoeckelberg
When I was told that I was going to be coming along to the Annual Trouts Redfish retreat to Port Sulphur, Louisiana, I was in complete disbelief and as excited as a giddy schoolgirl! For weeks prior to our trip I watched every Redfishing video I could find, and studied proper flats boat etiquette to try and prepare myself for what would be an “epic fishing trip!” After many sleepless nights and days spent daydreaming of Bull Reds, the time had come to head to NOLA.
I had bought myself a copy of the latest Drake Magazine thinking it would keep me occupied for the two and a half hour plane ride, but when your sitting between your two managers that are drinking Wild Turkey on the rocks, who needs literature anyway. We did however practice our blood knots, swapped some flies and fishing stories, and when we stammered out of the plane we were all greeted by the smell and humidity of New Orleans that stuck to you like a wet sock. As we headed south on Highway 23, and listened to our shuttle Driver John’s horror stories about what life was like during and after Hurricane Katrina. After an hour shuttle ride and a brief stop at Brothers gas station for fried chicken and libations, we arrived at the amazing Woodlawn Plantation in West Point a la Hache, LA. The house is indescribably beautiful and that is probably why it has graced the label of Southern Comfort since 1934.
We woke up on the first morning upon our arrival and I couldn’t have been more ready to get out into the bayou! Our guides picked us up out front of the plantation and we drove about ten minutes to the boat dock in Port Sulphur. Day One, Jim and I fished with Captain Shane Mayfield, a long time friend of Captain Bryan Carter, Jim was gracious enough to let me spend the first part of the morning attempting to get my first saltwater fish on the fly. After “Trout” setting on the first couple of fish and getting yelled at a few times, I finally hooked up my first Redfish. He was nothing to write home about, but I gave him a kiss and released him back into the water. I ended up catching a few fish on the first day and as we motored back to the boat dock I knew that tomorrow was going to be good!
After playing poker all night after our first day of fishing, I woke up the next morning anxious to get out on the water and stick some more fish. This morning I got to fish with Alex Landeen, our hired
gun photographer and known funny guy. We took off into the bayou with a little cloud cover that burnt off by ten in the morning, making conditions perfect for chasing Bull Reds. We poled into a beautiful flat with Alex on the casting platform and Shane immediately started to spot and call out fish. Alex and I took turns catching smaller Reds in the 8-15 pound range until Alex hooked into a 21 pound Bull that was very upset about being hooked and ran him into his backing. After a nice battle we landed, measured, and photographed his fish and returned him to the marsh. We kept poling along in about three feet of water and I continuously turned down shots at smaller fish, waiting to hook into something more substantial. Until Shane called out to me “2oclock coming right to left! Point your rod!!” As I pointed my rod I saw two floating “sofa’s” lumbering their way toward the boat and all I could do was wait until they came into casting range. At about forty feet I made my cast and put it in front of the larger fish that was in front of the pack and he wanted nothing to do with my Defiant Crab. The smaller fish behind him was obviously hungry and ate my fly like it was going out of style. The second I set the hook on this Bull he took off like a bat out of hell, and I was looking enough to see my backing twice on this fish. After a long hard fight, my Winston BIIMX and I had won the battle and had the Red up next to the boat. As Shane reached into the water to grab the fish, he pulled him out of the water and I had a grin on my face from ear to ear waiting to hear how heavy the Red weighed. Shane yelled out “26 pounds baby! Way to go boii!!” and handed me over the biggest fish I had ever caught. I was in absolute awe as we took pictures and couldn’t believe how much bigger he looked out of the water. After posing for a couple more pictures, I laid down on the deck of the boat to release my Bull back into his salty home. After a couple seconds he had his sea legs back and he sulked away into the marsh.
Louisiana is unlike any place I have ever been to in the United States; the people are great and are always looking to have a good time. The food was absolutely to die for, and the bayous of Louisiana are a sight fisherman’s paradise. I will never forget my first saltwater trip experience and how it ruined me forever.