Myself and a couple of club members made our first DIY, kayak, redfish trip of the year. Had a good time but the fishing wasn’t good, primarily I think because the tides have changed to a high tide in the mid-day. It happens this time of year. I picked a day when there was a low tide that was almost negative at just about 2 A.M., hoping the water at fishing time might still be skinny enough to see some fish. No Bueno, too much water.
We had some interesting interactions with locals. A commercial fisherman showed up at the ramp and I overheard an exchange between him and another local which included some comments which seemed to reflect the new rules passed by the Mississippi Advisory Commission on Marine Resources. At one point I heard the comment, “You better be careful, you see these sport fishermen, they could report you”.
Of course I wasn’t really thrilled as to having been pointed out as a possible enemy but as events played out I think I can say “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
After we spent most of the morning making a valiant effort to find fish, we decided to abandon the sight casting and head to a favorite point to drift some clousers. Well, it used to be a point, now due to the erosion and the lack of any of the coastal restoration money ever making it to the marsh, see (Project 4248), the point, at least 60 or so feet of it is gone and now it’s really just a corner. The current does come by that corner pretty swiftly though and it’s a good place to just drift a clouser. You never know what might latch onto to a well presented fly.
We had about a twenty minute paddle to get to the point and once we got about half way I noticed a couple of guys in a boat casting towards the corner. They were gear fishermen, not fly fishers. I watched them and they never caught a fish while we paddled toward the “point”.
We finally arrived at a place we could beach the kayaks about 30 yards below the corner. It took us a little while to get the kayaks in and situated and those same fishermen were still casting to the bank at the corner. We waited, somebody pulled out a sandwich, and we watched as these guys cast toward the corner. They didn’t appear to be in any hurry to give up on the corner, even though I never saw them catch a fish. The fact they weren’t catching any fish was not a good sign for us, but then they were also fishing it differently. Being gear fishermen they were casting and dragging their lures like bass fishermen, not that there’s anything wrong with that. The way I have had the best results is to dead drift a clouser with the current so that it bumps along and drops in the little depressions in the sand the tidal current makes.
After a while I decided we had given those guys enough alone time to not catch fish and I grabbed my rod. I walked up slightly off to the side of where they were casting. I made a cast in the opposite direction. The current was in-coming and it swept my fly and line toward the bank the other fishermen were casting towards. I had to pick the line up to keep it from getting in-between.
That’s when the first sarcastic comment came:
“Having trouble finding enough bank to fish?”
Well I saw the barb in that comment and I took my time in responding. I designed my reply to attempt to deflate the hostility, after all, I admit I had encroached them some, though in my mind I hadn’t hurt their not catching of fish one bit.
I replied, “Yeah, well this point used to be quite a bit larger, the erosion has washed away at least 60 feet of it”.
Another barbed comment came back, “Yeah well it got a lot smaller when you came up.”
Obviously they were not happy with my presence. So I moved farther away and stopped drifting but instead, cast in the opposite direction and just stripped the fly in, to stay out of the area they were beating to death to not catch fish in.
Then I noticed one of their casts land just below my feet and then more casts came toward my line. They were now deliberately trying to snag my line. Pretty soon one of their casts hooked my line.
“You got me”, I said, as they began reeling the line to them but then, I guess to their dismay, it came off. No comment, just sullen looks and more casts.
“You got me again” I said as they snagged my line once more and began reeling it to them. Luckily it came off again.
They kept casting at me, even more aggressively.
Not to be deterred, I made another cast and as luck would have it, hooked up with a fish. I silently chuckled to myself and was hoping it would be a nice speckled trout. It was only a croaker, but I have to admit I played it longer than I had to just to rub it in my detractor’s face, who at this point had yet to catch a fish.
As I removed the hook the croaker was making his well-known croaking sound, “Ur-ur-ur-ur”. I listened to him wishing it was loud enough for my antagonists to hear, thinking to myself “exactly”. As I tossed him back one of these young bucks in the boat shouted to me “You’re not from around here are you? Where you from?”
Well my first thought was to wonder why this young buck who appeared to hate my guts was interested in my heritage. Considering the hostility, I thought maybe he wanted to run back to the ramp in his powerboat, check all the license plates, find the one from the right county and slash all the tires.
I replied, “Mississippi”.
He came back with the same question, like he didn’t hear me, or maybe didn’t get the answer he wanted, “Where you from?”
I said again “Mississippi”.
Then I hooked up with another fish, this time the fish was bigger and the bow in the rod was bigger. Unfortunately it came unbuttoned.
Now came the comment which gave away the thinking of these unhappy fishermen:
“You must not really be from Mississippi, nobody from Mississippi fishes like that”.
Ah, truth be told, they might as well have said “no self-respecting” Mississippian would fly fish. I guess that croaker I caught had no respect for himself either or he wouldn’t have eaten that fly.
I let the last comment sink in. Not only was I in their spot, I was FLY FISHING in their spot. I might as well have been from New York City.
I didn’t look at them but simply said as loud as I could without shouting “I wish I had a nice powerboat like that and could fish ANYWHERE I want.”
All quiet from the boat. In a few minutes the motor cranked and they left. I never looked at them. Whether any birds flew as they left, I don’t know, I wouldn’t have been surprised but I wasn’t going to give them the pleasure.
You know at the beginning I actually considered apologizing for my encroachment of their spot, but after they started casting at me and just couldn’t seem to give it a rest, that thought disappeared completely.