Sorry it’s been a while.  Website issues caused me to write and loose 3 articles. Yeah. Anyways, I scouted 3 of 4 Minimalist Zone launches at least 10 times, with numerous people including Wade Barbay,  Josh Redd, Austin Johnson and Michael Ethridge. We caught fish everywhere but very few trout on the west side of the ship channel.  I caught good quantities of trout, reds and bass, and even a flounder, in and around Lena Lagoon.  In one situation, 4 species anchored in one spot. Everyone knows of my penchant for trout and that’s how I usually get a check, so the ship channel was my game plan.



Weather had turned cold and wet, so no hurry to launch.  Met Josh and Austin at a greasy spoon in Metry for breakfast at 9 and headed down to Da Parish. Rain hadn’t stopped so went over to Campo’s where we were staying,  unloaded and waited for Wade, who’d been sabotaged by ruthless competitors.  What else could explain 2 flats in the same morning.  Anyways,  Wade showed at 11 and we decided to wait a little longer.  I don’t mind being cold. I don’t mind being wet. Just not at the same time.  We walked outside every 30 or 45 minutes and checked the weather until 230 or so until we said hell with it and cocktails were served.  Austin came by after fishing a while and hung out. For those who haven’t had the Austin experience,  he’s very entertaining! Sean Rastanis was staying with us and showed up next, with the secret Minamalist baits! Benjamin Day arrived and after refreshments, we busted out and sorted baits. After serious inspection and noting that Breck Hotard would love the ugliest cat turd colored bait, an assembly line was formed and bags were filled. I must say it was both fun and exciting being part of that process.  Y’all start agonizing over setup at bait pickup,  we started fussing over it at dinner. I’d cooked homade venison chili which was served with the accouterments including diced onion, shredded cheese, hot sauce, Frito’s,  Ball Park Frank’s,  and Bunny hot dog buns. Fabulous hearty meal for a frigid evening. Austin and Ben rolled, Sean hung out and cocktails were served,  and some White and Chocolate cake. Sean passed out around 9, snoring loudly into his personal pillow brought from home,  to prevent snoring.  What’s the return policy on that? We all crashed in Blackie Campo’s house,  the man, the legend. Hallowed ground as far as I’m concerned.



The rules had changed, so we put our boats on the dock at Campo’s and brought vehicles to Hopedale Marina,  then back to Campo’s.  We got the rest of our gear and hot coffee,  then went down to hang out before launch time. It was really cool seeing all the kayaks lined up on the dock! Pleasantries and grimaced were exchanged.  At 7, everyone headed into the ship channel.  For a minute,  I considered heading under the Ycloskey bridge, but kept pedaling across.  The wind was blowing 15-20, 36 degrees and bluebird. When I got to the rocks, I hooked a right close to the rocks and started trolling the little red hard bait slowly. No rush.  After about half a mile of nothing,  I started fan casting the silver/blue paddle tail with the 1/4 oz Berkley jighead  because I believed the large profile would get hits. I fished in and out of every cut, drop off and spot I knew. I went to my sure fire spot where I have always caught fish. Nada. Sean called and had a red. Lovely.  My former confidence level dropped.  I worked my way into the Bayou Guyego complex and found beautiful water, nada. Wade and Josh each reported catching a bass. I hit my last sure fire spot at 1. Nada. It was almost 2 by the time I finished but kept fishing until I’d crossed Lena and knew I wouldn’t make weigh in even if I did catch something.  I got to weigh in after fish were weighed and socialized.  It’s always great seeing the group at weigh ins. Over 80 people registered but a little over 60 picked up baits. There were maybe 35 at weigh in. The hardcore! Chris Murphey killed it and Janie Murphey came in third! Probably the first husband/wife team to share the top three! Impressive!  I left shortly after weigh in to shower and rest my aching body.  Josh and Wade showed up,  cleaned up, and we headed to the esteemed Rocky and Carlos for a fabulous post tournament meal, complete with waitress shenanigans.  We headed back to the camp for football and final cake destruction.  Slept like babies.



We slept in till 7. Wade had the coffee going and we gathered gear. Josh wimped out on us but Wade and I launched at Hopedale Marina and headed into the marsh.  I caught a baby trout in the canal and redeemed myself,  slightly.  It was pretty bleek until I anchored in front of a cut and got a hit on the swim bait, then nothing.  I switched to Captain Lane’s curlytail on the 1/4 oz Deathgrip, and proceeded to catch 7 fat bass. When the bite slowed, I went into the cut and finished my limit of bass. It opened into a pond and I thought I saw a head pop up. I cast towards it and caught an upper slot red. Day late….. I caught 3 more bass on way out and called Wade in, who caught a couple.  Dats it. Got home just after dark.


At least 10 people joked about following me. Good thing you didn’t.  My sure fire plan was a bust and I received the goose egg. Lovely way to start the tournament year. On the other hand, I truly enjoyed hanging out with my buddies and got to sleep in Blackie Campo’s house,  epic! Don’t count me out, I’ll see y’all soon! Can’t wait till next trip!