Lake Fausse Point, Louisiana

November 21st, 2005

Fly Fishing America: The Louisiana Edition

(Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of columns on Roger Stouff making the second of two episodes of Fly Fishing America with Black-feet Indian Joe Kipp of Montana.)

The week of my second appearance as a fish-ing celebrity - har, har, hee, hee - started on a bit of a flat note, and despite the best efforts of all involved, improved little, although there were moments of resonance.

I spent the entire weekend preparing for the arrival of Joe Kipp, my Blackfeet Indian cousin and the film crew from Fly Fishing America. You should understand that we're not cousins so far as family ties except in the sense that all Natives are family. In that family circle are cousins, brothers, sisters, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles.

Friday's weather forecast was dismal at best: A cold front would push through the area Tuesday, bringing heavy rains and a temperature drop of 20 degrees. That left us only Monday and Tuesday to get some good footage. What originally began as a four-day film shoot had been cut in half.

I spent Saturday working line onto new reels, getting the boats ready, organizing fly boxes. I found to my dismay that both trolling motor batteries in the big boat were mysteriously shorted out and had to be replaced, a tab I had not anticipated and would rather not have endured. I had collected a nice assortment of salt-water flies, as we intended to do one day of freshwater fishing for bass, sac-au-lait and blue-gill, and a second day of marsh fishing for redfish and speckled trout.

Sunday morning Joe Kipp called from the airport in Great Falls, Montana to let me know there was no ticket for him at the airport. Joe was scheduled to arrive in Lafayette at 4:30 Sunday evening and I would have picked him up there. But the travel agent had apparently made a colossal error and, after quite a bit of wrangling by the film company, the best that could be done was to have Joe into Lafayette by 9 p.m. on Monday. This effectively meant Joe and I had one day of potential fishing on film left.

But the crew arrived Sunday and we met for breakfast Monday morning to hammer out a plan. Bryant, Jake and Aaron were great, professional folks who, thankfully, have been at this game of filming outdoors programs long enough to know that sometimes the fish bite, sometimes they don't. That doesn't do much to make a film, of course, but the facts remain solid. Jake was the only familiar face: He had been one of the videographers on my Blackfeet fishing trip.

We decided that we'd go to the lake, with me fishing without Joe, for the afternoon. First we spent some time in Franklin, though, so the crew could do what they call "B-roll" footage of the area, the backstory, so to speak. They took lots of film of Franklin's antebellum homes and historic district, downtown, Sterling Sugars sugar-cane mill and the like before we headed out to the Rez.

Chitimacha Tribal Chairman Al LeBlanc gave a brief welcome to the crew on film, then we launched at the reservation boat landing. My pal Francis Todd generously volunteered to carry half the film crew in his boat while I had one guy with me in my boat. We fished the cove all after-noon and, as expected, it rained on us a little and the fish were slow to respond. I had asked the crew several times if they had packed their rain gear before we left, and all, including the skipper of the camera boat, assured me they had. So when it started raining everybody donned rain gear, except the guy who made sure they all brought it, who had completely forgotten his in the truck, and I got a little wet.

Since Hurricane Rita, the cove's water levels have decreased six or eight inches, making an already shallow situation worse. I could tell by the various pilings, duck blinds or sunken logs that have been there for decades, by which I usually gauge the water level, that I had lost at least six inches of depth by sediment being pushed into the cove by the hurricane. The cove faces northeast, the direction of the storm's winds, and its back end goes nowhere, so all that sediment just churned into the cove and settled out there when the wind and water subsided. There were watermarks on the trees three and a half feet up the cypress trunks.

We fished the cove from front to back and back up, and I managed one small bass and a perch so tiny I slung him over the bow of the boat when I set the hook! But the cove was beautiful, just turning its fall colors, and the guys were able to get some truly stunning video of my native waters before we called it quits and headed home. It did give me the opportunity to talk about the problems the hurricanes visited on the lake and the basin as a whole, a little plug for conservation practices and a better understanding of hurricane impact. Later, when we hit the marsh, I also had an opportunity to talk about coastal land loss and the importance of Louisiana's marshes and wetlands to the entire nation.

That night we had supper at Café Bayou at the casino and I went into Lafayette to pick up Joe Kipp at the airport. We had a pleasant ride back to town, stopping in New Iberia for a fishing license for my guest, a brief trip through the Rez and then back to the motel where I dropped him off. We'd meet up at 6 a.m. Tuesday to head for the marsh. ~ Roger

It's out! And available now! You can be one of the first to own a copy of Roger's book. Native Waters: A Few Moments in a Small Wooden Boat

Order it now from www.iuniverse.com, Amazon.com, or Barnes & Noble.com. Roger will also be giving away three autographed copies to readers. Stay tuned, for an announcement on the Bulletin Board on that soon.


Previous Native Waters Columns

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