I scouted Shell Beach the weekend before. Caught reds and trout but no bass. Water was incredibly high so I figured no big deal.  Watched the weather closely and after my wife saw sign up sheet on FB, asking why I wasn’t on it, signed up.  The MRGO is not safe in high north or south wind.

Woke at 315, extra early, after too much iced tea the night before. Got out the house forgetting only my banana quickly and skipped my coffee stop with visions of SEC.  I call Josh Redd who’s doing the Iron Man round trip from Lafayette so he can fish and appease the fabulous Emily for her birthday. He’s pretty much on schedule but some guy just passed me with a blue Outback in a Chevy truck.  Of course I speed up as no one is beating me to the SEC, or launch! When I pulled into Day and Night Discount, Bobby Triche pulled in right behind me.  We greeted and went in. I ordered the SEC(Sausage Egg Cheese) biscuit then coffee’d up and iced down.  I admonished Bobby for not getting breakfast then goaded him by showing my prize SEC.  When we got to Campo’s, someone had indeed beaten us to the launch, at least 6 someones. Nonetheless, we were in our boats waiting at the end of the canal when 5am happened, and we were off.  Dan Rodbell, Eric Stacey, Josh Thompson and Michael Ethridge had launched at the end of the road instead of a perfectly good launch/dock. Uncivilized, outlaws, or just like to combat launch?

While waiting, I attempted to put fresh treble hooks on my topwater but the proverbial bell rang and I only got the back one changed before kicking hard for about 40 minutes. I was with a group that turned south with about 4 ahead of me. after about 15 minutes people started turning into the marsh and only one ahead of me, way ahead.  I watched him turn into the marsh and was happy when I found out he wasn’t going into the cut I wanted to fish.  I pulled into the cut trowing topwater with nothing happening but a bunch of grass on my hooks. When visibility improved I switched over to Chris Cocheran’s Tail Chaser 4″ Curlytail, Chartreuse Flake on a 1/8 XL Deathgrip jighead. After two or three casts, a bump, then hookup.  It came out of the water and I immediately recognized the trout, a fatty at that.  Hoping for a bass but yeah. I laid him to rest in the ice chest.  Few more cast then a big bump followed closely by the screaming drag, then the net.  When he landed on the floor I was happy. When he measured 26.5 I was ecstatic! One down!  Fished up and down the canal and on the way back cast the shoreline with Vuduencork twice and disappear followed by screaming drag. Again I was pumped when it hit the deck and board measuring a fat 26. Then there were 2!  A few casts later, Mr Bass number one came out of the water with the curlytail in his mouth. A quick measure landed his 12″ self in my box.  It might have been 830 and I was well on my way. I went back into the MRGO and into the next cut, nada.  I drifted the MRGO again and landed a couple nice trout. Yes they accompanied me to Metry. I went back into the first cut and nothing.  When I pulled into the ship channel Eric Stacey was fishing a point.  We exchanged pleasantries and I explained that I’d pulled a Stacey by peeing on my pants leg and he was amused. A minute later I greeted Jowin Owens going into a cut I had already struck out in. No, I didn’t tell him because things change. I started drifting the channel again and was rewarded by another bump to screaming drag to net.  26.75 for the first time in my tournament history. I had just upgraded! At that point I was feeling pretty good about life and knew my chances of catching a second bass with possible upgrade were good.  I saw a kayak coming up on my quarter and it was Dan Rodbell, just in time to watch me catch a fat trout.  He was pretty excited to see a fish as he had a bleak morning. I showed him what I was using and he saw what I was doing so after a brief conversation he turned upwind and pedaled back in the direction I’d come. About that time I had half a double-decker, homemade thin slice chicken breast on Dave’s 21 nut bread with some spicy green salsa from one of my favorite Mexican restaurants. Oh, it was fabulous! I started drifting again and came upon another familiar angler.  Breck Hotard was doing the same as me, a little tighter to the shore. I watched him catch an upper slot red right in front of me which wound up being his best of the day.  Yeah, I’m either good luck or people step up their game when I come around.  Shortly after I saw Bobby Triche coming out the marsh and told him where I’d caught and how.  He pedaled that way.  Couple minutes later my phone went off and Dan was telling me he owed me lunch.  Although not trophy slots, he thought he might qualify for top 15. Coooooool, free lunch!

I went back into the marsh about 4 miles from where I’d started fishing around 1030, grinding for the elusive bass I needed.  I threw the curlytail, spoon, topwater and Vuduencork, nada. Fished long and hard, got one hit and it was a 6″ bass,  lovely. I made a big circle and was coming back into the MRGO around 1230 when bump, scream, deck, fat 25″ red. It’s unusual that it didn’t make me happy, but it’s not what I needed. After release, 2 or three cast and I hooked the bottom and wound up breaking off. I angrily retied knowing I didn’t have time for this. I cast out towards the deep to make sure the bait was running right, then at a point. Bump! Football shaped green object comes flying out of the water! I’ve never been that excited to catch a bass and guessed at 2.5 pounds when I boxed it. I screamed thank you god at the top of my lungs, arms over head, face to the sun. I had a really good feeling! It was 108 when I caught it and I fished back to the launch without another bite. At 2, I was driving to weigh in.

After greeting fellow members, I attempted to use the club’s pathetic hanging scale to determine the biggest fish.  Thankfully,  Josh Thompson helped but we agreed the hooks were not designed for big redfish. Pitiful. For the first time I sorted through 3 beautiful specimens, the smaller being very close. Good thing I checked.  For the first time, people were watching my fish closely.  Chris Murphy was just ahead of me and had me worried. He had slightly better reds, but my bass made the difference at 2.67 lbs. My guess was pretty close!  It was early in the weigh in but I was in first with big bass.  My adrenaline went through the roof and I’ve never watched a weigh in so closely.  There were a lot of good anglers behind me including Brock Miller who’d already chided me.  When Steve Lessard pulled out his reds I was relieved when his biggest DQ’d but then he had another, just as big.  When he pulled the bass out, I knew I was out of first and Big Bass. Yes, I yelled expletives and the drama continued through the end of the weigh in.

I wound up 2nd which is an upgrade from last year’s third and although I really felt like I had a good chance to take it all, being beaten by a 2 time world champ isn’t the worst thing in the world.  He had a commanding lead, beating me by 3 pounds.  Congrats!  The margin between Chris Murphy, Jonathan Carter and I was within a pound. Pretty darn close. Congrats to all who placed and qualified for the championship.  Thanks to the club and officers for a great competition opportunity.  What an awesome day!  My fishing schedule will turn to Grand Isle, searching for monster trout! I cant wait till next trip!

P.S. While waiting for this to be approved, AOY standings came out. Once again I’m in 3rd. Uh ohhhhhh 🤯🧐😉🤣😜

Comments welcome as always!