Captain Bob here. I am always looking for new fishing experiences, especially fishing in waters that I have not fished before. In recent years I have tried a number of charter captains, some near to home so I can fish a morning or afternoon and have the rest of the day. Others are further from home, often requiring several hours of drive time each way. Two captains stand out from the rest – Captain Earl with the WhipaSnapa located near Biloxi, Mississippi and Captain Mike located in Lafitte, Louisiana.
If there are fish to be found, these captains will find them. Even when the bite is slow, they are interesting people, full of good humor and good stories. I have been fishing with Captain Earl for more than ten years, have enjoyed getting to know him, enjoyed his stories when times are slow, and call him a friend.
I fish with Captain Mike less often as it requires more than five hours drive to get to his home port in Louisiana. What I do like about fishing the bayou country is that it is very different from fishing the bays of Alabama and Mississippi. Shallow water, different kinds of structure, and beautiful country to sit and just enjoy the scenery and occasional alligator describes fishing in the Louisiana bayous. Bridges, old docks, and outfall pipes from commercial shrimp processing plants describes fishing the Biloxi area.
Here I am with some of my children and grandchildren spending a day on the water with Captain Earl to celebrate my birthday.
We had a great day, a good catch, and most importantly we had fun together. Future installments will share stories from and about Captain Earl but this story tells of a weekend fishing experience with captain Mike.
Good Captains Come Recommended by Friends
This story begins with the discovery of a charter service in Lafitte, Louisiana that fished the bayous and backwaters of the Mississippi Delta. Most of the water was less than ten feet deep, and held a good supply of redfish, speckled sea trout, flounder, black drum and sheepshead. Captain Mike, the captain of the charter service, liked to focus on redfish, good table fare and good fighting fish. My children, their spouses and my grandchildren all like to fish, and when able I include several of them in my plans for a weekend fishing experience.
Captain Mike is an amazing guide, he can see redfish lying in ambush in the shallows well before any of the rest of us can, and he always seems to know just how to position the boat to give us the best casting opportunity. I feel lucky that I stumbled on to Mike’s charter operation through a friend. One day Kenny, whom I met while working in Australia and who now was living in Arkansas, called and asked if I would be interested in joining him and a couple of his friends for a weekend of fishing in Louisiana. Silly question, of course I would like to fish some new water.
Good Captains Help With Logistics
We made plans to meet up at a motel close to the charter service the night before we were to fish. The next two days we rose early, fished hard, and told fishing stories in the evening. Kenny had stayed on to work in Australia for another ten years after our original contracts were up. It had been quite a while since I had seen Kenny however we had been corresponding throughout his time in Australia and after his move back to Arkansas. We all had a great time on our Louisiana trip, caught lots of redfish, and vowed to do it again soon.
Over the years after that first charter experience with Mike I would book a two-day charter several times a year, sometimes Kenny would be able to join us, sometimes not. He was experiencing some health issues after his return home from Australia and at times was not able to handle the long drive and climbing in and out of the boat, so he stayed home.
I decided to book a charter early in January, a time when my children could get time off from work and join me. Kenny was up to it, so we arranged for accommodations. Mike had housing located on the marina property, making it very convenient and it also provided a kitchen for our traditional Saturday evening fish fry. My son flew into Pensacola from Virginia on Friday and my son-in-law and I picked him up and headed for New Orleans. Lafitte is about an hour drive south from New Orleans and we were settled into our accommodations by nightfall. Kenny arrived from Arkansas with a friend about the same time we did.
They’re Not Afraid of Cold, Uncooperative Weather
January in Louisiana can be beautiful and spring like, with lots of sunshine and warm weather. Or as it was that Saturday, overcast, windy, and cold. We decided we did not bring enough warm clothes along with us, and we prepared to shiver our way through the day. We took off at first light after a good breakfast and spent the first three hours practicing our casting with little luck. A couple of small redfish and a flounder was the catch so far. Captain Mike was working hard to find just the right water, but on that day the fish just did not want to cooperate. We also headed into several squalls and sleet storms as we searched for fish, adding to our misery. We finally came to a dead end on one stretch of the bayou, with several camps lining the edge that were protected from erosion by a concrete seawall. Mike knew the water was a little deeper around the seawalls and thought it would be worth trying.
Well, we immediately knew he had found a winner! Four fish on at the same time was the first indication we had found the hotspot, and the bite continued. In less than an hour we had boated 23 nice redfish, ensuring our Saturday night fish fry would be a success. After we caught our limit the run back to the marina was a frigid one. Mike put the pedal to the metal and pushed his boat to over 30 MPH. When we finally got back to the dock we were ready to climb out of the boat and get onto dry land, get a cup of hot coffee in the marina, and warm up while Mike filleted the fish. He uses an industrial strength electric knife and can process a cooler full of fish in short order. I had brought fish fry mix and side dishes, so we headed back to our accommodations and began preparing a fish fry dinner. We went to bed dreaming of sunshine and warm weather for our Sunday morning trip.
They Know Where the Fish Are
Sunday broke dawn clear and bright, but still on the chilly side. At least there was no sleet to freeze our hands and get down the neck of our jacket. We had all made a mental note the night before to purchase a package of chemical hand warmers and put them in our tackle box for the next time we fished Louisiana in the winter. We headed out of the marina and motored toward a dam on the bayou that Mike knew would often hold fish. When we got to the concrete and wood dam we saw we were not the first to give it a try, there was already a boat fishing one corner where the dam met the shoreline. They were having some luck with redfish, so we took the other corner and ended up twiddling our thumbs with no strikes at all. Fortunately, they only had two people in the boat, so they quickly limited out and went on their merry way. We motored over to the spot they had been fishing and began filling our cooler.
There is no accounting for redfish, why would they be on one side of the dam and not on the other? The basic structure was the same, the shoreline vegetation was the same, and the water depth was the same. Yet the fish chose one spot and ignored the other. This may have been a one-time event, or there may have been something about the selected side of the dam that attracted the fish, we will probably never know.
They’re Willing to Try Different Things
This illustrates why it is imperative to select a knowledgeable charter captain when you fish in unfamiliar waters, it is sure to increase your catch. I believe that it is also important to select a captain that might be just a little impatient. When the bite is slow, you need to try something different. I have fished with captains that follow the same path, seldom try anything new, and get upset if you ask them to think outside their normal routine. Needless to say, I seldom fish a second time when I have this kind of experience. I once fished with a captain who only tried a couple of stops in a four hour charter, kept close watch on his clock so he would be back at the launch area in exactly four hours, and passed a spot that was producing large redfish with almost every cast for a couple of anglers practicing catch and release. We asked to stop and give it a try, as all we had in the cooler was a couple of barely legal redfish, but the clock was ticking and our time was up so we passed by an opportunity for a good fish or two. That ended my relationship with that captain.
In summary fishing is great fun. You can fish from your own boat or with a charter captain as told in this story.
Have your own charter boat fishing experience you’d like to share? Tell us all about it in the comments!
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