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Trout Bums at Large is a monthly column appearing in the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Seattle Times. The column is written by Randal Sumner and Mark Littleton. We will be keeping an archive of these articles on this page.

Redfish and Capt. Dan
by Mark Littleton

Le bon temp roller! That’s the unofficial motto of Louisiana (translation -let the good times roll). I had never been to Louisiana before but I heard that it was an exotic place, the closest thing to going to a foreign country without leaving the U.S.A., so this year my wife Katie and I flew to New Orleans for our vacation. After a tour of the Bourbon Street nightlife and some great blues, a tour of the French Quarter, dining at some of the finest restaurants I’ve ever eaten in, and a swamp tour (a don’t miss part of any trip to Louisiana) I took a day to go flyfishing for redfish and drum with Captain Dan Ayo while Katie shopped.

Captain Dan is a genuine Cajun and something of a self taught renaissance man. He told me that he never went to college but reads a lot. He built his own house, built his own boat – a welded aluminum flats boat with many custom features, developed his own web site and ties all of his own flies.

When I called Captain Dan a couple of months ago to talk about the fishing there, he said “we won’t be fishin for em Mark, we’ll be huntin em”. That sounded pretty good to me so we set a date to go. Dan is the only flyfishing guide working out of Houma (pronounced Home-a ), a little town about 60 miles southwest of New Orleans. I met Dan at the Big Wheel Truck stop and Casino at 7:00 am and headed for the dock. We went fishing in the bayou’s south of Louisiana leading out to the Gulf of Mexico. This is an amazing place, miles and miles of grassy wetlands with a maze of channels running through the grassy areas. I was told that Louisiana has more wetlands than all the rest of the States combined, I don’t know if that’s true, but it sure looked like it to me. These wetlands are rich with wildlife with all kinds of birds, fish and reptiles (alligators). The highlight for me was seeing a couple of huge porpoises swimming in the gulf.

This is how this kind of fishing is done: You motor out to a likely looking spot, shut down the engine and Dan climbs up to the platform and starts poling and looking for fish. All of the water we fished was less than 3 feet deep. The Drum are easy to spot, their tails are sticking out of the water. The redfish were much more difficult to see, you look for a ghostly outline under the water.

We motored out for quite a few miles before we started fishing. Dan handed me a 9 weight rod with a fly that looked suspiciously like a spoon. In the first 5 minutes of fishing we spotted a pair of Redfish feeding and I hooked a heavy redfish on the first cast. Unfortunately he threw the hook and I lost him. At this point I was thinking that this was going to be easy. Find em and catch em - one after another, easy huntin.

I found that it isn’t all that easy. For one thing, I am pretty good at spotting rising fish, but I was pretty much worthless as a submerged redfish spotter. Even when Dan was pointing out the fish and screaming “can you see him, he’s right there can you see him?”, most of the time I couldn’t see anything. This was a major problem because a redfish will not move very far for a fly, you have to put it right under his nose. You have to be able to see the fish well enough to tell which end has the mouth and which direction the fish is moving, then lead him just right so the fly is right in the feeding zone at the right time. Despite my limitations, I had caught a drum and hooked 5 other fish that I lost by late afternoon. I considered this a pretty successful day, I still wanted to land a Redfish, but the scenery and wildlife were so spectacular that I would have been pretty happy even if I hadn’t caught anything.

Dan knew that I would like to catch a Redfish before I went home, and I was getting a little better at seeing them by this time, so we stayed on the water longer than planned and changed to a strange looking fly that Dan had just invented that had a rubber leg collar. We saw a large drum feeding and I cast to him, he didn’t take but the unseen Redfish next to him did. This fish wasn’t as big as some we had seen that day, but he put up a good fight and I landed him. As it turned out this little bit of luck came just in time, a storm came in and we had to race it back to shore. The fishing trip was over.

Overall, this is one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. I am something of a fishing fanatic, but even without the fishing, Louisiana is one great place to visit. The beignets and café au lait at the Café Du Monde alone were almost worth the trip. My only regret is that we were unable to find anyplace that had a zydeco band. I guess we’ll save that for the next trip.

More Trout Bum Articles:
05/01/2015: The wolves will always eat the sheep by R.Sumner
11/17/2014: Red Fish Redux by R.Sumner
08/01/2014: Retirement by R.Sumner
07/02/2013: Custom by Randal Sumner
05/01/2013: Subaru Magic by Randal Sumner
01/19/2012: Ding Ho by RandalSumner
04/06/2011: A Cautionary Tale by Randal Sumner
01/26/2010: Redfish Round-up by Randal Sumner
11/24/2009: Kentucky Don and English Bob by Randal Sumner
08/25/2009: A word about Bears by R.Sumner
06/30/2009: Polar bear hugging by Randal Sumner
01/27/2009: Christmas letters by Randal Sumner
11/25/2008: Trip to Eden by Randal Sumner
08/07/2008: Mime Time by R. Sumner
06/02/2008: fuel vs fishing by R. Sumner
05/01/2008: Long sleeve Hawiian shirt by R.Sumner
02/07/2008: The Empire by R. Sumner
11/29/2007: Troutbum self-help by R. Sumner
09/04/2007: The Perfect Client by Randal Sumner
07/02/2007: High Anxiety by R.Sumner
03/29/2007: Grasshopper by Randal Sumner
01/25/2007: Chinese food by R. Sumner
11/30/2006: Old Whitey by R.Sumner
09/28/2006: Chief Holland USN retired by R. Sumner
07/10/2006: BBQ by R.Sumner
05/30/2006: Cashmere by R. sumner
03/30/2006: Sterling Choices by Randal Sumner
01/26/2006: Tying with Pablo by Randal Sumner
12/01/2005: Brrr by Mark Littleton
11/24/2005: Thanksgiving 2005 by randal Sumner
09/01/2005: Anchors Away by Mark Littleton
07/01/2005: Some kinda fun by Randal Sumner
05/01/2005: The Base Lake by Randal Sumner
04/01/2005: Humble Pie by Mark Littleton
03/01/2005: Dance monkey dance by randal Sumner
01/01/2005: Where are the Instructions? by Randal Sumner
12/01/2004: Das Boat by Mark Littleton
11/01/2004: What me Worry? by Mark Littlton
10/01/2004: Priorities by Mark Littlton
09/01/2004: Falling In by Mark Littleton
08/01/2004: Ice Fishing by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Honey, I flooded the basement by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Elvis Lives by Randal Sumner
06/01/2004: Coyote by Randal Sumner
04/01/2004: Vested Interest by Randal Sumner
03/01/2004: Are you a Troutbum? by Mark Littleton
12/01/2003: Christmas presents by Mark Littleton
11/01/2003: Oklahoma by Randal Sumner
10/01/2003: Steel heading JuJu by Randal Sumner
09/01/2003: Motor Home by Randal Sumner
08/01/2003: Life is Funny by Mark Littlton
07/01/2003: Deschutes by Mark Littleton
06/01/2003: Class of 2002 by Randal Sumner
05/01/2003: BOAT FISHING by Mark Littlton
04/01/2003: ALASKA, LAND OF THE MIDNIGHTBLUE TARP by Randal Sumner
03/01/2003: MARCH BROWNS by Mark Littleton
02/01/2003: DEEP IN THE HEART OF IDAHO by Randal Sumner
01/01/2003: TOP TEN by Mark Littleton
12/01/2002: SAN MIGUEL by Randal Sumner
11/01/2002: DISNEYLAND by Randal Sumner
10/01/2002: CAMPING by Mark Littleton
09/01/2002: MMMM MAYFLIES by Mark Littleton
08/01/2002: CARNEGIE HALL by Randal Sumner
07/01/2002: CRAWFISH PIE by Randal Sumner
06/01/2002: Sons and Pals by Mark Littleton
03/01/2002: Visitation by Randal Sumner
02/01/2002: Ouch by Mark Littleton
01/01/2002: Death by Randal Sumner
11/01/2001: Leakers by Randal Sumner
09/01/2001: Poser by Randal Sumner
08/01/2001: Snake River Diary by Mark Littleton
08/01/2001: It's Hard by Mark Littleton
07/01/2001: Etiqutte by Randal Sumner
06/01/2001: June by Mark Littleton
05/01/2001: Road Trip to Paradise by Randal Sumner
04/01/2001: What Are They Doing Up There? by Mark Littleton
03/01/2001: Gear by Randal Sumner
02/01/2001: Soft Hackles by Mark Littleton
01/25/2001: Motivation by Randal Sumner
12/28/2000: Winter Fishing by Mark Littleton
11/30/2000: Old Blackie by Randal Sumner