(Editor's Note: This is the second 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.)
It was not quite dawn when I arrived to meet the film
crew and Joe Kipp at the Forest Motel in town. From
there I led them to a nearby service station and
quick-mart to meet our guide and hosts for the day.
It was kinda rough having come in late from picking
Joe up at the airport and getting up early to head
out for fishing, but my excitement kept me driven.
St. Mary Parish Sheriff David Naquin had kindly
volunteered months earlier to guide us on a trip
to the marshes below Houma, Louisiana, in search
of redfish and speckled trout. With the generous
help of local anglers Lamon Miller and Carlos
Snellgrove we were hopeful that the weather would
hold long enough to let us get a few fish on film.
A massive cold front was predicted for later in
A few cups of coffee all around then we loaded up
the vehicles and headed for Bayou Dularge.
We were all hopeful, but warily. The cold front was
coming some time Tuesday evening, and winds were
predicted at up to 30 miles per hour with an 80
percent chance of rain. Remarkably, by the time
dawn slipped in that morning, the chance of rain
had dimished dramatically, the arrival of the cold
front pushed back a few hours, and all that really
remained was a brutal. gusting wind all day long.
You know the old saying: If you don't like the weather
in Louisiana, stick around a minute. At few times has
it been more true than that Tuesday.
Joe Kipp and I rode to Dularge with the Sheriff and
Miller, and everybody seemed to hit it off pretty quick.
We talked a lot about redfish and speckled trout fishing,
about hurricanes and coastal erosion, about the general
health of the fishery here. Turns out Joe had done some
red-fishing in Texas once but, like me, had yet to hook
into one. We were still cautiously hopeful we would do
so that day.
Carlos provided a breakfast of darn good biscuits when
we got to the camp in Dularge while the boats were being
loaded and readied, then we all headed out into a pounding
surf and busting winds. Joe and I were in the sheriff's
boat, and the crew in Snellgrove's with he and Miller.
While the theme of both episodes of the show both in Montana
and in Louisiana will be "Native Waters" as borrowed from my
book title, Dularge actually fits the bill. The Chitimacha
Nation, at contact, stretched from beyond Houma to the east
to about Lafayette on the west, before giving way to other
nations. We also occupied the area from Baton Rouge to the
Gulf of Mexico.
I can't say how many hours we tried to catch, because it all
became a blur, but I can tell you this: My father always
claimed the most important truism about fishing is that
they were either biting yesterday, or you should come back
tomorrow. Those who were not supposed to be making a fly
fishing television show were fishing artificial baits and
fresh shrimp, but an entire day of fishing these only
resulted in the landing of one small redfish, a decent
speckled trout, a catfish, and two small black drum. I
hooked into one fish and lost it, and Joe came close two
or three times as well, but no cigar. You can't blame it
on the fly fishing, though: The shrimp-anglers were not
doing a whole lot better! Several times Joe had fish chase
his fly to the boat then veer off without a take.
We ran all over creation looking for an elusive combination
of criteria: Spots with as little wind as possible, and with
fish that would bite. It proved to be too tall an order, but
as Naquin said - more than once - that's why it's called
"fishing" and not called "catching."
Despite the urgency of getting at least a few fish caught
on film, it would be impossible to say that we didn't all
have a great time. The "fishing experience" was excellent,
with lots of good-natured ribbing, mostly at my expense,
but hey, I don't mind being the catalyst of good cheer. We
broke for a lunch of sandwiches and chips then chased fish
around a little longer to no avail. Early in the afternon
we called it quits and decided to head for some freshwater
ponds back in St. Mary Parish.
We hooked into a couple bass here, lost both at the boat,
but decided it was worth coming back for Wednesday with
my bigger boat. We knew the temperature would be dropping
about 20 degrees and the winds would continue to howl, but
the crew was running out of time and we still hadn't enough
footage of fishing to make the show work.
That night we all cleaned up and returned for supper at the
Forest Restaurant. Joe asked for recommendations and was
recommended fried crawfish and etouffee with a stuffed potato,
which he enjoyed thoroughly. We were all pretty whipped by
then, and retired fairly early. The next day we would return
to the freshwater ponds to try again, though conditions would
be even more difficult than the day before. ~ 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
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.