A seven-hour drive from Georgia is an oasis of food, culture and nightlife known as New Orleans, and just 45 minutes south of the Hurricanes and Hand Grenades of Bourbon Street is a quiet area of Lafitte. This area offers ideal conditions for saltwater fishing being surrounded by the Barataria Basin, and with great conditions come talented fishing guides and charter companies. One of which, Big Dog Fishing Charters, is a favorite of mine. I been fishing with Big Dog for years and even got a favorite captain, Michael Steib Jr., who always put me on the fish every time.
This mid-October, I loaded up the truck and invited my friend slash fishing novice Jeremy to tag along the Louisiana fishing adventure. We started off the adventure with our girlfriends at New Orleans’s Frenchman street with some awesome spirits, food and jazz music at local jazz joint, Maison. Ordering the Cajun cuisine was a delight as my friends never had the real deal. So, I order jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, poboys and gator bites for the table. To the say the least etouffee was the most concerning to the newbies but their favorite in the end. After dinner, we made our way to a jazz performance at the Spotted Cat Music Club enjoyed a local concoction with the music. Continuing the night, we walked down to Bourbon street for Fish Bowls and Hand Grenades. As midnight was fast approaching, the realization of the next day, first-light fishing excursion popped in my head. The night was called, and we made our way back to the condo.
At 5:30 AM, we made our way to Lafitte and Big Dog charters for a 6:15 meetup. The morning was overly warm and humid but the excitement of the trip overcame the discomfort. Michael was waiting for us the dock in front of the rental property that Big Dog uses for lodging packages. In his heavy accent, he asks me, “Ready to go?” We nod and jump in his center console boat. The short boat trip out of 10 minutes is relaxing as the sun peaks over the waterway painting the sky with vibrant colors.
Rigging for the reds, we use spinning rods with braided line connected to a popping cork and leader. A jighead with gulp shrimp and piece of frozen shrimp completes the setup. The first cast and a few pops produce nothing. Then Michael belts, “you all need to pop quicker.” With his advice, I increase the action and bam, a small rat Red Drum hits the bait. From then on, I kept up that pace and the fish turned on.
The first fish of slot size hit like a sledge hammer and ran with the line. Pulling it in to the boat, the fight was rewarded with the sight of gorgeous golden scales adorned with a black spot. The fight or a red is like a smallmouth bass, hard and fast, but the color of the scales is a sight to behold in person.
With the wind picking up midmorning and half way to our limits, my friend Jeremy had not landed his first keeper red. He started watching my actions and taking pointers from Michael. The next thing we knew, he surpassed my catch in the boat. He smiled after reeling one of the nice slot reds and said, “this is a lot better than fishing for bream in your small lake.”
For more information on Big Dog Charters, check out their website.