When I look back on a year of fishing and writing stories for Field & Stream, I’m always struck with a profound sense of good fortune and gratitude. No doubt, it’s pretty cool to catch fish and write about that for a living. But the thing is, while the epic fish battles and the species themselves often account for memorable fodder, the best reflections inevitably revolve around the places and people with whom I have the good fortune to fish.
Since my last dispatch on fly fishing for sharks off San Diego, I spent a lot of time fishing “home waters” in the upper Midwest (where I grew up) and in the Rockies (where I live now). Thing is, as I fish certain rivers, my mind inevitably drifts away with the wonder of where the water goes. In the case of those Rocky Mountain rivers (on the eastern side of the Continental Divide), and many rivers in the heartland, they inevitably all pour into the Mississippi and end up pulsing through the marshes and channels of the Louisiana Delta.
Perhaps it’s fitting in a symbolic way that I would end up in Bayou country for my last story of the year, fishing in the shallow marshes near Venice with my friends Brian Esposito and Bryan Holeman.
Louisiana fishing, if nothing else, is the ultimate “melting pot” of angling opportunity. You can find everything from bass to sea trout, redfish, sharks, and even tarpon in the waters of Louisiana. And sometimes you find the most unlikely combinations.
To wit, I recently experienced a “double” I hadn’t even imagined, and would not have believed had I not seen it for myself.
Brian and I were working a shallow bay near the mouth of the Mississippi, looking for redfish. We saw an orange profile slipping under the surface—a decent redfish—and I made a cast with a fly rod, but I missed my shot. Brian made a backup cast with a jig on a baitcaster, and immediately hooked up.
As he fought that fish, I saw a smaller dark profile dart under the weeds ahead of me, and I made another cast. This time I scored, hooking and landing a sporty little largemouth bass!
Now, realizing that redfish (or red drum) are primarily ocean fish, and largemouth bass are, of course, freshwater species, this photo of Brian holding both fish we landed in the same spot, at nearly the same time, is now one of my favorites of all time. Neither fish is a trophy, in terms of sheer girth. But the fact that we doubled up on a redfish and a largemouth bass is a memory I won’t soon forget, and a feat I don’t expect to ever duplicate again.
But I’ll be going back to Venice next chance I get. Because the mouth of the Mississippi River is one of the rare, magical places where the fishing can literally exceed your wildest imagination.
Kirk Deeter is an editor-at-large with Field & Stream magazine, and the editor-in-chief of Angling Trade. He is the co-author of four books, most recently the Little Red Book of Fly Fishing. He also blogs at Takemefishing.org.
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