I fished the third annual Fly Fishin’ for the Mission Tournament this past weekend at Pointe aux Chenes. It’s a team tournament open to boats and kayaks but limited to fly rods only. My teammate, Catch Cormier and I won the tournament out right in its inaugural season and placed again last year in the kayak division. We were both looking forward to placing in the leaderboard again this year.
But first, a little information on this tournament. It is a fundraiser for Mission Six, a nonprofit organization started by Mathew Roberts to support our vets and first responders. Matt and his buddies take a lot of vets out on our waters and get them in a place where they can relax and gain some relief from the stress of PTSD. Some of these vets were also wounded physically in Afghanistan or Iraq. For many, this event offers them a chance to catch redfish on a fly rod, which most of them have never even thrown before. The tournament is a two man (or woman), two fish (redfish) tournament. You simply have to weigh in the two largest slot fish you can. Oh, by the way, there is also a side pot for sheepshead…more on that later.
So, I showed up at PAC Kayak rentals, owned by Eddie and Lisa Mullen, on Friday to do some pre-fishing for the tournament, socialize, and get some pastalaya. As my luck would have it, the wind was blowing too hard for me to get out on the water, the pastalaya was late getting cooked…so I just did the socializing thing and called it a night. Catch had done some scouting and it looked like we were just going to fish our spots that had produced well for us in the past.
Saturday morning was gorgeous. The skies were cloudless (perfect for sight casting) and the wind was blowing only 5 – 10 mph. We got to our usual spots and I was disappointed because there wasn’t much underwater grass growing. It’s the grass that keeps the water clean and remember Cormier’s Laws for Fly Fishing number 2? Clear water favors the fly fisherman. Well it meant we would have to paddle further back in the marsh to find clear water. By then, however (around 10 AM), the wind had picked up to 10 -15 mph. No problem, I can cast in wind. Catch had already caught a nice 23-inch redfish and had seen quite a few others. I, however, had not seen but one redfish before 10 AM. Things did change and I was able to get my first redfish to eat a gold spoon-fly.
24 inch redfish…not bad but I’ll need to upgrade if we want to be “in the money.”
My next redfish could have been a twin my first one, although it was feistier and took me into my backing. I was having to fight the fish and the wind at this point. It kept darting behind pockets of marsh and the wind would blow me the other way. It was a bit comical to watch me with one hand on a rod and the other frantically trying to maneuver around with a paddle.
I then hooked a “money” fish but the darned thing broke my tippet off where I tie it (loop to loop) to my leader. That’s the first time that’s ever happened. I continued to catch and release fish until about 2 PM. I lost six and landed six so the redfish and Doc ended up tied for the day 🙂 On the paddle back to the landing, I saw this 20-inch guy cruising the bank so I had to see if he was willing to eat my gold spoon fly and he did.
That picture is very deceiving. Look at the water. Although it’s dirty, it looks calm. I was on the lee side of a set of barriers put there to help with erosion. On the other side of the barrier were white caps!
The paddle back to the marina was brutal. Not only did I have to fight the wind, but the tide was ripping in and I needed to paddle about a quarter of a mile against it. It probably took 25 minutes to paddle against the wind and current but I made it back. My partner, Catch, hadn’t caught a redfish over 24 inches so it looked like we would have to weigh my two fish only. He did, however, catch 8 sheepshead on the fly, included the sheepy pot winning fish of 5.8 pounds! Uh, that’s nice Catch, but remember it’s a redfish tournament. 🙂 That’s OK because last year we had to measure both of his redfish to place in the money. Oh, and speaking of “in the money,” Catch and I always donate our cash winnings back to the organization so I’m sure they are happy to see us win. 🙂 Anyway the guy who won the thing was a vet who had never cast a fly rod until he took some instructions the night before. His best redfish was 26.75 inches! That’s a money fish! 🙂
Anyway, kudos to Eddie Mullen, Matthew Roberts, and the rest of the team at Mission Six for putting this on. Next year, maybe I’ll have to cook the pastalaya so it will be cooked on time 🙂