When it comes to fishing in south Louisiana, it helps to know the lingo. “Reds” are redfish and “specks” are speckled trout, and if you’re out on the water with an expert charter boat guide, you may find yourself saying (or shouting) those words a lot.
That was the case with me, anyway, when I met up with Capt. Brian Sherman of Kayak Venice LA one morning, after driving 60 miles from New Orleans to the tiny fishing village of Buras.
“I got a red on,” I called from my kayak — one of a small fleet of paddle-powered boats Capt. Brian owns. He and his son, Nolan, joined by Capt. Carol LeCompte of Reelivin’ Charters, had been catching small fry all morning. By 11 a.m., the bigger ones had awoken, and they were hungry.
Within an hour, the captains and Nolan had each reeled in reds big enough to feed a small family, and to all but guarantee sore muscles the following morning. It’s crazy how typical of a scene this is for these guys. Anglers in other parts of the country might recall a haul like this as their biggest fishing day of the year. In the brackish marshes of Plaquemines Parish, however, this might not even rank as the biggest fishing day of the week.
Credit that to Capt. Brian’s and Capt. Carol’s expertise and to the unique opportunities that kayak fishing offers. This is fishing at its simplest. No motors to crank, no waiting in line at the boat launch, no expensive equipment to repair. Kayak fishing is also ideal for fishermen in a hurry: Within 10 minutes of meeting Capt. Carol at Frelich Seafood & Bait Shop in Empire that morning, we were deep in the saltgrass, with the sounds of the highway quickly disappearing behind us.
Kayak fishing also lets anglers get closer to the action than most motorboats can offer. And even if they could, they’d likely scare away the fish. Paddling into an alcove of downed trees, fishermen can get right on top of the spots where the big ones are biting.
By late afternoon, the sun is beginning to fall behind the cypress trees — this is the kind of landscape scenery you’ll see on postcards throughout south Louisiana gift shops — and we’re loading up Capt. Brian’s truck. Back at Reelivin’ Charters’ lodge, a massive six-bedroom lodge with a pool and outdoor kitchen, Capt. Carol filets the redfish and speckled trout within what seems like seconds. Battered, fried and served with fresh oysters, it’s easy to imagine these dishes being served at fine dining restaurants in New Orleans. It’s hard to imagine a better way to celebrate a long day of kayaking and casting than sitting down to supper you just caught.