August 6, 2015

Key to Conquering the Marsh is no Secret

I am tired of hearing, "What if I get stuck?" Yeah, what if a meteor hits your house? This is inshore fishing, not golf. Read on to learn about the key ingredient most are missing from their fishing trip.

Yes, the marsh can be a scary place

Inshore fishing in Louisiana is not like fishing in Paw Paw's pond or Lake Lure.

There are all kinds of things out there that will ruin your day and bring your fishing trip to a screeching halt. Water spouts, lightning, rough seas and flesh-eating bacteria are just a handful.

Your motor could give up the ghost leaving you stranded in the marsh until someone randomly passes by. Many things can go wrong and that is the nature of the marsh.

Waterspouts can drop out of a thunderstorm without warning.

The temperament of where we fish is different from that of other places. Louisiana's marshes really are unique and this is because they are so vast.

They are huge!

We have over 20,000 square miles of wetlands in Louisiana.

A lot of that is saltwater marsh, where we fish for specks and reds.

It is easy to fish all day and never get a cell phone signal. If you break down, your conventional method of communication may not work.

A VHF radio is good to have only if anybody is within range to hear you calling.

 Y'all gotta reach down and grab a pair

I get a lot of questions concerning different aspects of fishing.

Most are posted on Louisiana Fishing Reports (we appreciate those who post on our site) and others are emailed to me. I'm always delighted to respond and return thoughtful replies.

I cannot help but notice there is a key ingredient people seem to be deliberately avoiding and often to their own detriment. Sometimes the appropriate answer is the cold, hard truth.

It's not the latest equipment, the coolest outerwear or the fastest boat: it's about not being a pansy.

Make no mistake; I am not sugarcoating this at all.

Some anglers are entirely too afraid of their own shadow and others want to have their cake and eat it, too. This is being lazy and dishonest.

Getting really good at fishing and safely traversing the marsh does not mean just putting your hours in and taking your licks from nature, but recognizing that inshore fishing comes with its risks and preparing for those risks accordingly.

The first step is to man up.

"Guys, I don't think my shield is big enough."

The Vikings didn't sit on their ass in Norway contemplating how scary invading England sounded. They just did it.

I promise you the Debbie Downer whining about all the possibilities (capsizing in the North Sea, getting stabbed, being captured, just to name a few) was left behind and did not get to share in the spoils.

Are you going to be a Debbie Downer or are you going to be a Viking and pillage those redfish?

A long time ago I made a living babysitting Debbie Downers in Iraq. There were days I woke up to rockets having impacted our base. Of course, the Debbies were running around like chickens with their heads cut off, squawking about the loud noises and creating a commotion. I usually stayed in bed because I knew the rockets had already impacted. It's over. They're exploded rockets, not Decepticons. There was no point in stressing over it any further.

As a result, it is really hard for me to listen to someone whine about bugs, two foot seas or how scary shallow water is.

Seriously, grow up.

The day pansies opt to stay home because they are uncomfortable is the same day I leave the dock to crush fish.

Zack Campo ain't no pansy.

Take a look at Zack Campo of Campo's Marina in Shell Beach. He went duck hunting last year and while navigating to his lease in the dark he caught a PVC pipe to the face. He didn't rush to the hospital.

He didn't bemoan his misfortune and cry about it on Facebook. Instead he manned up and passed the favor along, shooting ducks in the face all morning. Him and his buddies shot their limit and were heroes for the rest of the day.

Way to not be a pansy, Zack!

But be smart about it

Manning up does not mean charging into a thunderstorm in the middle of Breton Sound. Doing so is asking for an ass whipping of epic proportions.

Manning up means intelligently, and rationally, recognizing the dangers of the marsh and handling them accordingly.

For example, I had a fishing buddy who was terrified of open water.

He could not stand the idea of being far from land and I learned this on a fishing trip to Bay Eloi (located at  N 29.759898° W 89.381556°).

The wind was non-existent and the water looked like glass. However, once we cleared the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet he began freaking out.

It started out with him asking how deep the water is, the world's most annoying question when it does not pertain to fishing technique.

(Consider that it does not matter if the water is 10 feet deep or a 100 feet deep, the boat sinks the same and either way you still have to swim)

His hysteria mounted into "lets please go back" before I turned the bow around.

My point is that he was being irrational, even delusional, about the relative safety of a slick calm day in Bay Eloi.

If the wind had been blowing 15-20 knots out of the east and it was super choppy I could understand. But it wasn't.

Manning up means setting aside the childish and irrational perceived dangers so you can handle the ones that actually matter and exist in reality.

  • What will you do when the motor breaks down?
  • How will you get a hook out of someone's arm?
  • Can you recognize a thunderstorm that is forming and get out of the area before it hits?
  • Are you going to fly around that blind corner like a dummy or slow down?

Being rational about the dangers in the marsh and preparing for them is part of Fishing Smarter. Or you can cry at the cleaning tables about how you didn't catch anything while the rest of us bag our fillets.

With that said, you don't get points for senselessly exposing yourself and others to risk.

And it's totally worth it

The fishing here in Louisiana is second to none.

The Mississippi River spent thousands of years building this massive delta and as a result we have excellent fishing ranging from freshwater species like largemouth bass to offshore species such as yellowfin tuna.

Our inshore fishing is especially good, with high creel limits for speckled trout, redfish, flounder and more.

Man holding a Redfish

Mike started as a bass angler but quickly became hooked on sight fishing. He didn't wait for anyone to give him permission, he built a stand and hit the water like it owes him money.

It is not uncommon to go sight fishing for redfish and see 100 reds in a day.

Our creel limit for specks is 25 per person each day. People catch three to five man limits regularly and we can do that every day here in Louisiana and never hurt the trout population.

In Louisiana we don't go fishing, we go catching!

But it's not just the fishing that does it for me and other anglers. It is the sheer vastness of the marsh.

You can get lost in it, both figuratively and literally.

It's an immersion into the wild that allows one to rediscover himself.

Charging across the marsh in pursuit of speckled trout can bring to light a side of the world not found in the safety of air conditioned, fluorescent lit suburbia.

The only way you are ever going to get better at fishing the marsh is by spending time on the water and making mistakes. You are not going to prevent everything, that is life.

I have been stuck numerous times, steamrolled by huge storms and stung/bit by just about everything out there.

That is how I got the experience I have today. I can safely navigate the marsh with ease and push the performance envelope of watercraft with confidence, all the while knowing I am going to catch fish! Can you?

For anyone who is offended by this article and doesn't like what they just read then know the rest of us will enjoy the marsh in ways you never will.

The paradox here is that once you "man up" and face the marsh for exactly what it is, you have fewer problems and catch more fish.

How is that a bad thing?

Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a veteran of the Iraq War and former fishing guide. He founded Louisiana Fishing Blog in 2012 to share his ideas as a charter captain and still writes in it today. Since then he's created a fishing university — LAFB Elite — where he teaches inshore anglers how to safely navigate Louisiana's coast and catch more fish.

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