Feb 6 - Driving to Louisiana, it is raining again. To make things worse, the traffic in and around New Orleans is at a dead stop. The 17 hour drive is moving at a snails pace now. I had hoped to get to Morgan City in time to hit the river today. Not looking good. To make matters worse, when I get to our hotel for the week, they do not have a room reserved, even though we have a confirmation number. After some work, they finally secure us a down stairs room. Forecast is for a major front to hit the area.
Feb 7 - The weather today is mild, with a slight wind and humid. Its around 70 degrees, normal temps for the area. My first day on the river will be interesting. This is like no place I have ever fished. The river is full of current, with mostly bare mud flats. The water level is effected more by wind than tide. If the wind blows out, so goes the water. Blow in, up rises the water. But what makes this place so unique is the type area you fish. This is oil country, with miles of pipe lines, oil heads and tankers. Over the years, the huge oil companies like Shell, Texaco, have dug miles and miles of canals into the cypress swamps and marsh. This has left a maze of canals, like a huge jig saw puzzle. Some go for miles, some dead end, some turn left, then right, intersect with others, making a confusing boat ride. You need a gps on constantly, and a map in your lap always, and still get lost. It all looks the same. But my first day on the maze produces a couple canals that have some fish in them. The canals are different as the water, some have cypress stumps, laydowns, grass, or current. Some are deep, some shallow, some are clear, and most are muddy. The boat traffic has alot to do with this, the canals are narrow, with passage tight, and with 175 FLW pros and locals running around, getting muddier by the day.
Feb 8 - Today a front has moved into the area. Temps have dropped by as much as 30 degrees with 30 mph winds and rain. Even some ice pellets mixed in, which is rare for the Delta. Someone made the comment, it had not snowed since 1986, but there will be slight flurries today. Today, due to battling a bad head cold, I decide to stay in, work on tackle. I could go out in the freezing conditions, get even sicker and accomplish nothing. Several other pros staying in my hotel choose the same.
Feb 9 - It is cold today, but the rain is gone. The river has fallen at least a foot due to the wind. There is more duck week floating in and around the canals. With the falling water, it drained from the swamp and ditches. The water temps have also fallen. When I arrived, it was around mid 60's, today it is low 50's. I don't have much success finding keepers, only short fish. A non keeper under 14" will weigh close to 3 lbs, never seen such fat, short fish. They feed heavy on something the area is famous for, crawfish. A 12" fish will be so fat, it appears to have a golf ball in its gullet.
Feb 10 - The forecast today is temps in the mid 50's and sunny, a welcome sun. Today a friend who is fishing as a co-angler will ride with me. Plan is to go look at water away from the crowds. All the canals are getting heavy fishing pressure near the ramp. Having never fished this type terrain, I'm not sure it can handle it. My guess is no, with the pressure, boat traffic and falling water, best to look away. It will be about an hour run, but could be worth it. Having one or two canals to oneself could be a plus. Unfortunately, the plan does not pan out. We find the fishing tough, the water cold and muddy in the far off canals.
Feb 11 - Last practice day brings temps back to close to normal, in the 70's. I'm not feeling good about what I have or have not found, a good concentration of fish. Today I will concentrate on the main bayou, instead of the canals. I split an area with my roommate and work on figuring it out. We each get some bites, he with some quality ones. Its a short day, with registration and pairings tonight. I find out at the meeting that fellow NC pro Chris Daniels has found the mega load of bass in a far off canal. Bad news is that he is looking a boat, he has torn off the lower unit by hitting a sunken oil head piling while coming in. The damage is too severe to fix. He is in a dilemma, on the winning fish perhaps. A loaner boat is hard to find 18 hours from home.
Feb 12- First day of competition. I am boat number 25 in first flight. With this, I have decided to run to original canal I had success in early in practice. I should be able to get to it first. On the boat run to it, there is one boat ahead of me, could he be going to the same canal? Surely not in this maze, but as it gets nearer, so does his direction. Amazing, he does go into the same canal as I. But he makes a mistake, misses the turn close to the end and hits a short dead end, apparent because he falls back in line behind me. I will beat him to the back. My partner today is from Tennessee. We begin fishing as several later flight boats storm into the canal. One after one come into it. I am not the only one who found these fish. The bite is slow. As each boat leaves, so does the water quality. I make the comment to my co-angler that the water will clear up some if the traffic dies down. At around 10, my first keeper comes into the boat. The water is warming, the fish should start to bite. But all that I can get is short fish. As the day progresses, more boats come in and out of the canal. Time to move on to the bayou. I make the run, later to run into my roommate who has only one keeper also. After noon, I decide to go back to the canal I started in, with the rising sun, so should the water temps. It turns out to be a mistake, I catch only one more keeper. Later that evening, my roommate ask me why I left the bayou. He said they really turned on the last couple hours, having secured his limit and culling once. Decisions good or bad are part of the process. Today I made a bad one.
Feb 13 - Plan is to stick with the bayou, leave the canals alone. My partner today is from Ga. Early on, I land a nice keeper on a jig. I am not out of this, there is some big fish swimming in this river, and a big bag can be done. I catch several fish, all just short of legal. A couple mud fish, a gar, and even a catfish come onboard. I have a quality fish on around noon and it just comes off. Not long after that, I set the hook on a big fish, only to have it break off. I am positive this was a mudfish, it broke way to easy. As the day ends, I land one more keeper.
Feb 14 & 15 - Today, the weather is great, close to 80. My roommate and I decide to go fish for fun before the Fun Zone opens. The first canal I enter, I proceed to land a nice keeper, then one almost 4 lbs. In about 3 hours of fishing, I land a limit of bass, with even a cull fish if in the tournament. The limit would have gone close to 14 lbs. Why could this not have been during the tournament? The crowds at the Fun Zone in the Wal-Mart parking lot are huge. It will be non stop with visitors in the Hellmann's booth. Everyone I have met while in Morgan City have been extremely friendly. The Cajun accent makes it hard to understand most, and they kid me on my Southern draw.