Not unlike the majority of area residents, I had not missed a day of helping someone less fortunate haul their water logged possessions to the side of the road or cut out sheetrock and insulation since the day after the hurricane. Even if we failed to get a bite, I was ready for a break.

I really wanted to assess the damage all the way to the Causeway, but we ran into gulls working over a school of small trout as soon as we entered the lake. Having not made a cast in nearly a month, they might as well have been schooling tarpon.

Gene quickly put two slot redfish in the boat and we quit long enough to gawk at what was left within a rock’s throw of East Pass. Mud caked grass and debris lined the north shoreline of the ICW. The last of the remaining camps in East Pass was scattered all over Shell Island and an aluminum bass boat was wedged in the levee well off the water.

Because the marsh grass has been crushed under the surge of gulf water, you can now see for several miles across the once lush Game Reserve. There was some bait activity in the latte colored water littered with everything from sections of walls to floating 2×6’s.

As we motored across the shallow flats on the north end, it was apparent that at least a couple of feet of the bottom had been deposited in either the ICW or homes in Bridge City and Orange. The lake is now deeper closer to the islands or at least what is left of them. They are not as wide or as long as they were prior to Ike’s arrival.

Sidney was easily the hardest hit of the islands. It has been reduced to a slender stretch of dry ground with a washed out area right in the middle. It has not completely cut the island in half yet, but it will not take long. Both Stewt’s and Pleasure Island took a big hit as well, but it is not as noticeable as they are larger islands.

While we were dismayed at the amount of damage, we were excited about the fishing. The water was a little clearer in the open lake and small groups of gulls were ratting out schools of fish chasing shrimp and small ribbon fish. Most of the reds were in the slot, but the majority of the trout were 12 to 17-inch fish.

Having sufficiently scratched our itch, we continued south to check out the revetment wall. It was obvious from a distance that the popular fishing spot had been rearranged. Huge rocks were scattered all over the remnants of the levy road. The asphalt was either crushed or washed away in huge sections and all that was left of the two fishing piers was a few pilings.

We continued to dodge floating debris along the southwest shoreline, but it paled in comparison to what we found along the eastern shoreline. We were idling through floating brush and chunks of floating marsh grass when Johnny Cormier called me. “I don’t know where y’all are right now,” he said with disgust, “but you need to get over here and look at this. It is ruined!”

The area he was observing was the popular stretch of shoreline between Madam Johnson’s and the Gator Hole. Prior to Ike, it provided several miles of 3 to 5 feet of water that held scores of big trout and reds for wade fishermen and boaters as well. The massive open flats were dotted with scattered shell piles that attracted fish like magnets.

I took several pictures, but none of them adequately depicted the irreparable damage that area incurred. In some spots it was so thick that you could not motor through the uprooted marsh four hundred yards out in the off shore. In a number of places it was solid from top to bottom in the deeper water.

Even well out into the lake where no grass was visible, the bottom was littered with massive chunks of mud and matted grass. It looks as though a section of the Game Reserve was torn loose from the shoreline and washed out into the open water. I do not know what effect wave action and time will have on this area, but the bottom will eventually be much shallower at best and a lot of shell is forever buried.

The fishing is good and getting easier every day, but I urge you to slow down and keep your eyes on the water. If you cannot remove floating debris, mark it with a piece of string and a floating plastic bottle. If you can prevent one accident or repair job it was well worth the effort!