I was chasing my windblown cap across the parking lot at the public boat launch on Simmons Drive Sunday evening when K.T. Lejeune and a friend idled up to the bulkhead. By the time his fishing partner backed their truck down the ramp I had finally caught up with my cap and was waiting to winch their boat back on the trailer.

The Louisiana anglers were strapping everything down for their trip back across the river when K.T. called me over to look at their catch. While they were obviously pleased with their effort in the blustery wind, with the exception of a beautiful trout in the five pound class, I was not surprised that they had limited on both trout and redfish.

“We caught every one of these fish right around that bend,” said K.T. pointing in a northerly direction from the launch. “What is really crazy is that we were bass fishing and we ain’t caught the first bass yet!”

Even that statement didn’t surprise me as the salinity level is so high in the river that local anglers have been catching trout, reds, and flounder above Interstate 10 since early summer. The surprise came, however, when he held up one of his rods to show me what they caught their fish on.

Every rod in the boat had a Whacky worm tied on the business end and there were used up worms lying all over the floor of the boat. “The red fish don’t mess your worms up too bad, “he said, “but those trout tear up a worm every time they bite it with those big teeth.” I whole heartedly agreed with his assessment, but I was still trying to process the whole Whacky worm thing.

I have just worn redfish out in the marsh and up in the bayous with a Whacky worm over the years, but the few trout I ever caught on one were just an accident. The limiting factor in opting to fish the Whacky worm is that you aren’t going to cover much territory and if the fish are deeper than six feet, things really slow down. Other than that……Why not?

K.T. did add before they drove away that they found the fish chasing shrimp next to the shoreline.“I think we could have caught them on any lure,” he stated with conviction, “but we just never took the time to find out!”

While on the subject of trout and aluminum boats, it seems as though I am shocked at least once or twice a day at the lack of respect accorded aluminum boat owners by some folks running larger bay boats. For the most part, the only place and time this abuse takes place is in the open lake when a group of screeching gulls can apparently induce temporary insanity. The same bay boat operator that will drive out of his way to hunt another flock of birds should another bay boat already be on the scene will run right over the top of an aluminum boat as if it were a mirage.

It is almost as if the small boat owners automatically relinquish their right to being treated with any courteousy once they leave the river or bayous. I recently asked Johnny Cormier if I was just over reacting being on the water every day and he just shook his head and laughed.
Both Johnny and Adam Jaynes scout in their aluminum boats when they aren’t guiding in their center consoles and Johnny pointed out that I couldn’t appreciate how bad it really is until I was the one in the smaller boat. “I have it happen to me all the time,” said Cormier, “and you are not wrong in thinking that you get no respect once you are in the open lake.”

“I think the thing that makes me the maddest,” he added, “is when a larger boat will run right in on top of me when I am already working some birds and then apologize and say that they didn’t know it was me.” The obvious question that prompts is, “Does that mean if it hadn’t been Johnny it would have been okay to do it to someone they didn’t know?”

The bite under the birds will only continue to improve until the cold of winter sets in and, regardless of the size of your rig, respecting other fishermen will serve you well. Always look for another flock of gulls before opting to move in on a flock already occupied by another angler regardless of the size of their boat.

When you are already on fish under the birds, welcome fishermen that are courteous enough to shut down and close the gap on their troll motor. Even if they do approach too quickly and scatter the fish, assume at least once that they just didn’t realize that they had done anything wrong. Believe it or not, there are a lot of folks that welcome and appreciate pointers from experienced fishermen far more than a string of ugly words or a glare.

You will discover time and again in the future that folks that you helped rather than chastised will prove to be a priceless resource both on and off the water. Acting ugly doesn’t make catching fish any easier!