Big day on the Gulf of Mexico

Back in May my brothers, sisters and myself learned that one of our close family members was very ill. On the day that we learned this, we agreed to help him in all facets of care.

My brother, Tom Walters, and his wife, Laurie, live near Walker, La., and are providing a base for each of us to take care of our family member as we attend to him on 7-10 day rotations. My turn was last week and I learned a lot about cancer, caring for someone that you love and enjoying each and every day.

Saturday, Aug. 12 High 83, Low 68

Walker was the center of the 100-year flood that hit one year ago. My brother Tom’s house was flooded. Though the waters only came up 6 inches in his first floor, the damage was massive as Tom was in Wisconsin and unable to prepare.

Last week, Tom was able to get appliances in his house with the aid of my brother-in- law, Dick Schuster, who was down here with my sister, Lynn. Dick and Tom were carpenters and Lynn was a nurse.

I am a nurse and I am sanding, staining and varnishing. Unless you have witnessed what a flood can do to a large area, its affects are almost unimaginable. When I came down here in January to hunt hogs and deer my good buddy Bob “Bobco” Pearson, who lives across the road, was so worn out from rebuilding his home that he had to leave the hunt.

This week, Bobco got his 22-foot Champion center console tunnel boat out for the first time since the flood and after replacing most of the electronics decided to take it down to Grand Isle, which is an island on the southern coast of Louisiana on the Gulf of Mexico, and do what Tom and Bobco commonly refer to as a suicide trip.

A suicide trip means leaving the house about 2:30 a.m., reaching Grand Isle about 5:30 a.m., fishing all day and then driving home. Bobco was taking his 25-year-old daughter, Katie Kitxmiller, and he invited me to come along. My patient gave me the green light to go fishing, and a day of trying to catch redfish and specks “sea trout” was on the agenda.

We launched at Bridgeside Marina which is a story in itself. I have never seen such a huge setup for live bait or so many very serious fishermen at one place before daylight in my life.

So we head out to some rock shoals that were placed as hurricane breaks and we try jigging for specks and reds. There are other fishermen in boats and many that wade out in shorts with a net, a stringer and a fishing rod. We did not see a fish caught, so Bobco heads us out four miles to a shallow-water oil rig, “32-feet.”

The seas are at about 2 feet and it is crazy trying to throw a hook up on the oil rig to keep the boat in place, you do not want the hook to land on the fiberglass boat or yourself. Bobco has a crazy job trying to keep the boat out of the oil rig while I get us hooked up.

We start fishing and within seconds Katie has a big fish on which cuts her line. For the next hour we are catching hard tail, ladyfish and jack ravelle and having lots of bite-offs.

Bobco wants reds and specks, so we went looking for them and tried jigging and working shrimp with very little luck. About 2 p.m. we went back to the oil rig and the action was incredible. Unfortunately, a killer storm came in and the four-mile journey to shore was a nail-biter.

It was so cool to see the shrimp trawlers seemingly everywhere while we were on the gulf and that prompted Bobco to stop and buy some 4-5-inch shrimp for $4 a pound which Bobco said was the highest he had ever paid for them.

After the shrimp purchase we had to make one other stop and while inside of the business someone stole my brother Tom’s tackle box out of Bobco’s boat which I had borrowed for the day.

I had agreed to drive home and I was so tired I had to keep slapping my face almost nonstop but we made it. Now I know why they call it the “suicide trip.”

I will be back to Louisiana in a month or so with a family-first attitude but perhaps I will be out and about in a state/area that I truly love.

Sunset


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