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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.

Red Fish Redux
by R.Sumner


     It was still dark when the 5:00AM wake up call blasted me out of bed. Man who gets up in the dark? I dressed in my new spf50 fishing togs, brushed my teeth and was out the door looking for some hot caffeine. Chris (Tater) Bolm and I had come to South Louisiana to hunt for Bull Redfish in the Biloxi Marsh: a thousand square miles of Redfish habitat.

    Our guide Capt. Greg (MOON DOG) Moon was picking us up at 6:00.

 We were in it now.

  Greg drove up in a new black Ram truck pulling a beautiful East Cape skiff, he did not look happy. Conditions in the marsh had deteriorated in the last 24 hours; wind was 20 knots, bad tide, etc. I wondered what a knot was, how many knots to the mile. I kept silent as not to reveal my lack of maritime lore.     

   Were trout fishermen now in an unfamiliar universe careening to the famous redfish guide hangout Penny’s Café for breakfast. Parked in front of Penny’s were four more truck and skiff combinations, it was still dark. When we walked in the door someone hollered “Fresh meat”, meaning Chris and I, maybe it was my snazzy spf50 fishing togs.

             Penny also makes our delicious boat lunches, pretty handy. My only small criticism of Penny’s is they had no Green Tabasco, the life blood of a redneck breakfast.

     Back on the road to the boat launch, I was trying to get a focused picture of our guide. At the same time Capt Moon was attempting to do the same: Were we members of Greenpeace? Climate Change deniers? Or just Yankee lunatics? I kept thinking, there is something very familiar about the good Capt.…..but what?

  After launching the boat we motored down the bayou toward the open marsh passing a few boats still stuck in the trees from Katrina. It was a beautiful morning. The marsh is a product of a million years of Mississippi River mud deposits forming a tangle of saw grass covered  islands, open water and smaller ponds. The richness of these waters borders on the incomprehensible: shrimp, oyster beds, baitfish, dolphins cruising past, you name it it’s boiling up in the marsh.

   So let me give you the short version of how fishing for trophy Redfish is done with a fly rod. After the Capt. stops the boat he climbs up on the poling tower over the motor about six feet above the water. The angler stands on a casting platform about the size of an apple box, 15 inches above the front deck, I found this to be a bit dicey.

    As the Capt. poles you silently into the kill zone, your job is to visually pan the water from nine to three o” clock looking INTO the water for targets. When you find a moving redfish you cast a heavy fly about six inches in front of its head and immediately begin stripping the line back in long smooth strips. When the thirty pound beast takes the fly you stay calm and continue to strip until it turns and hooks itself, all the while standing on an apple box in a 20 knot breeze. Really could it get any simpler?

  Now let me explain as a trout fisherman of forty years how conceptually opposite this to trout fishing.

             First of all is the bait : Trout fishing is about the right fly at the right time, in the marsh there is so much bait your bait would get lost.

     Next is the casting, trout need a subtle delicate approach; in the marsh you may get three splashy shots at bonking the fish.

     And finally the hook setting, when a huge trout puts his snout on your size 10 grasshopper, you hammer it. I hammered the Redfish too; it’s just part of my fishing DNA. The Capt. was not amused, even though we landed most of those fish.

  Chris and I stood on that deck for four days listening to the Capt. behind us call out targets and talking us into the job at hand. As I stood on the casting platform listening to his voice on the last day; What was so familiar finally came to me, his was the voice from the movie Rainman, “Ray were not going to K-Mart”. The Capt. was the vocal doppelganger of Tom Cruise, the movie star. Are you kidding me?  I mean a dead ringer. I turned and asked him to yell at me,” I want the truth”. I believe he thought I had crossed over to the lunatic category.

    Just like Tom, no Mission is Impossible: Difficult, heartbreaking, frustrating, gut checking, but we achieved our objective and the free world survives.

     If you ever feel the pull of a thirty pound Redfish on your soul book a few days with Capt. Greg (The Cruise) Moon in the Biloxi marsh. Just leave my name out of it.

More Trout Bum Articles:
05/01/2015: The wolves will always eat the sheep 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
05/01/2004: Redfish and Capt. Dan by Mark Littleton
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