Duck season rekindles special memories
Absolutely the worst part of guiding is that first hour of each day. Climb out of bed earlier than necessary, sleep walk through the shower, eat one more bowl of cereal while the coffee brews and groggily piece together a game plan based on the failures and successes of the day before.
The cereal is now history, but the coffee isn’t ready so I step out the front door to check the flag in my neighbor’s front yard.
Direction is all that really matters as it will be blowing at least five times harder on the water.The coffee still isn’t ready, maybe a new pot is in order, so I disconnect the onboard charger and pile the pre-rigged arsenal of rods in the truck.
Finally, with coffee cup in hand, I give the trailer lights a second look and embark on the same pre-dawn ride that I make at least 250 days each year.After a quick stop for gas and idle conversation with the same handful of nomex clad individuals sounding equally sleepy, I make the final redundant leg of the daily trek.
I notice that the flag atop the courthouse is still blowing in the same direction, but it is now starched!
It is very seldom that I ease off DuPont drive and into the parking area at the launch that anyone else is there.
It makes launching easier, but the thirty minute wait on clients is boring and usually mosquito filled. Such was not the case this past weekend and the unexpected early morning hubbub rekindled special memories from over forty years ago.
Duck season is now upon us and the parking lot was once again filled with dogs, camouflaged hunters, pickup trucks and single axle boat trailers. Being quiet was obviously reserved for first light as boat engines roared to life while a variety of retrievers scurried about visiting one another just prior to nervously leaving deposits that invariably find their way into the boat.
In the early 70’s I immersed myself in that same incomparable anticipation every single day of duck season and the final coffee stop at 4’oclock in the morning was an even more grandiose event.
I was living in Crowley, La. at the time and not a morning of the coveted season passed that a caravan of dedicated hunters didn’t parade southward to the flooded rice fields.
The pre-dawn gathering spots, any four-way stop would suffice, along the two lane highway winding its way through Morse, Lyons Point, and Gueydan were awash with boisterous laughter, high priced retrievers darting through traffic unattended, and kinfolk reuniting with the same kinfolk they embraced the day before.This was the heart of Cajun country where you understood the more defining words in French even if you didn’t speak it and everyone was at the very least a cousin!
I was always amazed that the chaos ended as quickly as it began yet there was never a single dog left hunting his or her ride to fulfill their destiny.
I was probably the only hunter there that kept his dog on a rope or locked in the truck while soaking up the stories and coffee.I had great confidence in my dog’s retrieving abilities, but was unwilling to risk the possibility of my wife running me off had I returned home without him.
I never walked out of a tunnel to play a football game in college or caught the first fish that ever matched the thrill of duck hunting, but I have come to realize that a large percentage of the total package was preparation and anticipation.
The unrivaled taste of pot roasted pin tail or a teal gumbo cannot be savored through memory, but I will always enjoy revisiting the magic of a morning in the blind with trusted friends and a good dog!
The fishing changed for us Sunday morning as the wind switched to the north and blew as hard as it had been blowing out of the east all week long.
We had enjoyed just a fantastic week of catching, but found the playing field more restricted Sunday and was forced to settle for beating on school trout all morning in a cold wet wind.
Prior to that, and I think we will see more of the same this week, the birds worked over big schools of very solid trout and slot reds in the middle of the lake most of the day.
The whitecaps didn’t seem to bother them and there were plenty of small flocks to check out.
We abandoned the Kwik cork on those fish as a conventional Sea Shad or Flats Minnow rigged on a quarter ounce head enabled us to cover the bite from top to bottom.
When the wind was out of the east or southeast, we caught easy limits of slot reds and 2 to 4 pound trout running the Louisiana shoreline.The fish would hold closer to the cane at daylight, but the best bite was in 5 to 6 feet of water well off the shoreline the remainder of the day.
You never know how long the bite under the gulls will last, but it is going strong right now and the weatherman has not yet doomed us for the upcoming week.
When a 5 to 10 mile per hour prediction proves to be correct, there is nothing that you cannot fish and that is the preliminary call for most of the week.