Last December’s trip to Woodland Plantation, near Port Sulphur La, got off to a shaky start with storms cancelling some of the group’s flights and Monday’s fishing as well. Rain poured down outside the “Spirits Hall” while we stuffed ourselves with delicious multiple courses. We all went to bed with full bellies but with rain still pouring down.
So it was no surprise when we heard the rain pouring down when we got up in the morning. But we were only the victims of a cruel trick fate played on us. I was the first one up, before daylight and I started the coffee in the big house. No one else was up which was unusual for fishermen, I figured it was due to the rain, which I could hear pouring down outside. I was amazed to hear it still raining so hard, it sounded like it was absolutely pouring. Curious, I slightly opened the giant doors. Peeking through the crack I could see water pouring onto the steps in the black of the night. Water was all over the front porch, a palm tree was blowing next to the walk and it was slick with water. It looked like a hurricane was blowing water all over the porch. As I sipped my coffee, having nothing else to do, I decided to look out the back of the house. As I peeked outside I expected to be met with moisture blowing in as it had in the front, but, lo and behold, there was no rain. There was some wind, but not a drop of rain.
I thought to myself “okay, this is a house well over a hundred years old with a lot of history, this is spooky.” I figured maybe ghosts were messing with me, being in the land of the voodoo doll and all that. That was the only explanation I had as I stood there listening to rain pouring down in the front of the house while no rain fell in the back. One of our group came out of his room and said “Is that rain? There’s no way we’re fishing in that downpour, I’m going back to bed.”
Then, as we peered out through the water we noticed the bricks where the outdoor lights were shining on them were dry. Easing out of the door, trying to stay out of the spray, we looked left and could see the water was only directly on the steps in front of the main entrance. It turned out to be a broken upstairs water heater! The sound of the pouring water had convinced most of the fly fishers to sleep in, but it was just as well because the wind and clouds prevented everyone from fishing that morning anyway.
Later in the afternoon, our guide arrived to take us out even though we were all pretty pessimistic that the weather would cut us a break. Nevertheless, we were determined to give it a try. The sky was overcast and the wind was whipping as we headed out. Gradually as the afternoon wore on, the wind began to lay down and the clouds began to break up. The little bit of sun and calm helped greatly and we managed to bring three red fish to the boat before we had to give it up for the day.
Biggest fly rod, smallest fish!
My first fish was just a dink, but, in a way, the small ones are almost more of a trophy. The little fish are so spooky they are a real challenge to catch by sight casting.
I couldn’t help but contrast my using the Samuurai System with a stripping bucket (above) against my fishing partner’s use of a stripping mat (below). Our boat had no raised casting platform and I really enjoyed the freedom of being able to run all over the deck with line and rod ready to cast no matter where I moved or faced without any worry of stepping on line. I would have preferred a raised casting platform, but you take what you get.
The next day promised to be much better with winds low enough to let us out but with broken clouds it made for fairly difficult sight casting. I managed four fish and my partner one.
Woodland Plantation is a great place to stay and fish. I had a great conversation with the owner and was pleased to discover that he is an avid conservationist and supporter of restoration efforts. His operation itself is in a way a conservation tool as the best thing we can do to preserve the marsh is to give more people an appreciation for the resource.
The rest of the group I was in stayed for the rest of the week and some nice bulls were caught but it was a tough week with the weather. Hopefully I can get another trip down during the winter for another shot at those bulls.