My brother Gary and I were room mates at the motel when we sold tools. We weren’t always cashed up, but most of the time when we worked “together” within a week or two, we would have our pockets full of hundred dollar bills.
My brother Gary was an “info-maniac”. No matter where we were, east, west, north, south, first thing after breakfast he’d get the local newspaper and the USA today, when it came out. Gary would read about land for sale, the weather, the sports, what areas of the US was booming and oh yeah, good places to go fish. Of course he would make it sound good, so I would want to go too. Seems like we had a lot of fishing adventures.
Gary could fish, no doubt about it, he didn’t use bait, just lures, to give the fish a sporting chance. The fish usually lost. If I tell one fishing story, then I got to tell a hundred. It’s hard for me to decide which one is best. I’ll let y’all be the judge, here’s one.
Gary and I were selling tools in New Orleans. We were staying at the Holiday Inn in Kenner, not far from the Superdome. Gary read an ad for “Delta Sand Bar” offshore fishing, accessible by plane only, hot spot for red bass.
K-mart had what we needed, rods and reels , leaders, lures, then we stopped at the Ice House and got some ice for the cooler and a 12 pack of Michelob, then met the pilot/guide at the hangar.
The pilot filled us in on all of the details. For $750,00 each he promised us the adventure of a life time. That’s just what he called it. He told us, that’s where the Red Bass are bedding down. He said we would be flying due south, past the tip of Plaquemine Parrish where the Mississippi River turns empties into the Gulf, then on for another 60 miles and land near the sand bars of the Delta. During low tide, the water was only about 2 foot deep. He told us that we had to catch the tide right, it needed to be all the way out and we could fish the incoming tide. He also said that he would toss out an anchor and stay with us and bring us back. That sounded good, so we paid him the $1,500.00, put our cooler behind the seat, crammed into the little Cessna Scout with pontoons, ready to go, let’s go catch some red bass.
The flight took about 30 minutes. Flying over the cresting waves, just above the diving birds. The landing was a little rough, not my first landing in a seaplane but the first in a plane this small. We were about 60 miles south of New Orleans, in the Gulf, fishing the Delta sand bars. Nothing but ocean as far as you can see, the white tops of the cresting waves seem to go on forever. Hard to believe that the water was only 2 feet deep. The pilot gave us some instructions and an air horn to put in our fanny pack, next to a couple of beers, just in case we needed to get his attention.
Gary, true to form was a sportsman all the way. He didn’t believe in using live bait of any kind. We broke out the “Stingray grubs” that was in with the gear we had loaded in our fanny packs. Little white lures, with red lead heads and a swirly red twisted tail. They were dynamite. Gary always caught the first fish (and he did that day) while I’m still trying to untangle the backlash, from my first cast. We had two beers apiece with us, we fished, drank our beer and had a great time, no land in sight, small breakers rolling in and the plane anchored behind us.
We fished for hours, the pilot was right, both of our stringers, about 12 feet in length were full of beautiful red bass. The smallest bass was about 3 foot long, most were 4 foot or bigger. The tide started to rise up on us, slowly at first, we fished on until we noticed dorsal fins in the water, all around us. This looked “serial”, damn. We decided to call it a day, took a quick look for the plane and it was gone, disappeared from sight.
Rising up on a cresting wave, we finally located the plane, it was about a quarter mile away. We used the air horn till it quit on us. Nada, nothing, no notice that the pilot heard us, saw us or was even in the plane. When the tide rolled in, the swells caused the plane to rise, because of the short anchor rope, it would move about 20 feet away from us, with each wave. We had tied our stringers full of fish to our belt loops. As much as we hated it, we had to cut our stringer of fish loose. The blood in the water was attracting too much attention from the sharks, and I am terrified of Barracuda, they way they hit and run. We started wading towards the plane, difficult as it was with the rising tide and current going against us.
Next thing to go was our new fishing gear and fanny packs with our leaders and lures and what ever contraband we had carried with us that day. The last 150 yards we had to swim for it, the tide was rising that fast. When we finally got to the plane the water was up to our necks, rising even higher with each approaching swell. Once we climbed onto the pontoons, we felt a sense of relief. Finally, we were safe, we weren’t going to drown, now what’s wrong with that damn pilot? Gary was first into the cockpit of the plane. I heard a commotion, saw fists flying, blood spurting on the windshield, then, screaming and hollering.
The pilot had drank the rest of our beer. Empty Michelob bottles scattered across the deck of the planes interior, rolling back and forth. The empty cooler was lying on its side. When we got there, the pilot was laying back in his seat snoring, head tilted back, passed out cold. Gary went off, fists a flying, tagging the pilot with every blow. I knew that Gary nor I either one could fly the plane, so I made Gary quit. Forty-five minutes later, we spot the roof top of the Superdome and the plane is landing back at our point of departure. Just as soon as the plane quit taxiing down the runway and came to a halt, Gary jumped on him again.
The pilot is flailing his arms trying to ward off the blows, crying too, saying “what, what? You already kicked my ass once.” Gary said “That’s for drinking all our beer, you son of a bitch, the adventure of a lifetime my ass.” The pilot ran away from the plane towards the hangar, seeking medical attention I guess, but I was afraid that some one would call an Air Marshall to us.
My half of the trip was $750.00, plus all the money I spent on new fishing gear. The really good fight happened when we got back to the Holiday Inn.