Grand (Isle) Let Down
"Don't mistake who you are, with the results
that you produce." -Les Brown
About 6 months ago I was told by my kids and their grandparents that we were going on a trip. That we were going down to New Orleans over spring break. My dad brought it to my attention that we would only be an hour or so from the Gulf of Mexico and that he thought it would be pretty cool to try some of that "SHARK" fishing I talked so much about. My mind started racing with images of my dad and I proudly kneeling behind a massive bull shark on the beach. One that I caught, with his help of course. It was gonna be an amazing moment, a once in a lifetime experience.
So once the dates were set I started to plan the day of surf fishing. I read everything I could get my hands about the gulf, the tides, and the shark migrations. I knew about every pier, rock cropping, and shelf along the coast of Grand Isle, LA. I spent hours on shark fishing forums comparing the locations and backgrounds of catch photos to what I found on Google Earth. I had it all planned out, everything, I knew exactly where I was gonna drive my sand spike into the beach even though I was still drilling holes through the ice here in WI. After a few months the trip finally came and suddenly I found myself standing on that beach, rods in hand, ready to make my dream a reality.
|River Monster pose, rods in hand, looking out across the water.|
I quickly made my way down the beach like a man possessed. As my kids and parents trudged along behind me my son said "where do think we are going to fish?" Right there I said, pointing at an exact spot in the sand that was only visible to my eyes. You see even though this was my first time on this shore, I had already been there, multiple times. I have been walking this beach in my mind, in my sleep, in my daydreams, for several months. I already knew this place, actually I knew it quite well. I stopped and started to drive the pvc spike into the sand to hold my big bait rod. Once in place I sent my dad and son down the beach a ways to find me a rock that weighed about 10 pounds. The current was strong here and I would need some descent weight to hold the bait on the bottom. As they wandered away I pulled out my leaders and started rigging the bait. Palomar knots to connect the mainline, simple overhand knots to attach the rocks to the leader as sinkers. I had picked up some frozen mullet from the local bait shop. Nice big mullets, musky sucker sized mullets. The big 20/0 circle hook fit through them well and I was confident and ready.
After giving my dad some instructions for the big Penn 14/0 reel I stripped down to my skibbies and started swimming the rock and bait out into the surf. I can't put into the words what that feels like. The adrenaline rush is surreal. Something about swimming out into the water with a big bleeding piece of fish, knowing in your mind that you have a real possibility of meeting up with a shark is crazy. I dropped the rock and the bait then turned back toward the shore. It was at this point that I knew something was wrong. My dad was on the beach talking to the game warden on duty. He was waving his hands and giving the old hand slicing the neck signal. "What's up?" I yelled, the warden explained to me that an endangered bird had taken up nesting on this side of the beach and that everything left of the pier was closed till the eggs hatched out. I was devastated, all the time I had invested up to this point was wasted. This was the spot! The spot on the spot, the best spot. I reeled in the bait and started looking down the beach. I tried to stay positive as we loaded up the gear and headed for the other side of the fishing pier. "Now what?" I asked my dad as we walked down the shoreline. "Just have to pick another spot, no big deal" he said to me. No big deal! This changed everything, how was I supposed to just pick some other random spot? We got over to the other side of the pier and I looked out into the water...was that a fin? "Let's fish here" I said, and we started the whole process over. Sand spike, rod, leader, rock, bait, swim out the bait, back to the beach. I rigged up my surf rod with a 1/2 ounce Echotail and headed into the surf near where my kids were swimming, to try my hand at catching some other fish while my shark bait soaked in the water. Suddenly my dad yelled, "Look! Look! Shark!!!" I glanced over towards the bait and saw a big fin and tail break the surface of the water. I Told my kids to maybe stay a little closer to shore and headed up the beach back to my rod. I lit a cigarette and watched the rod, almost like I was trying to will it to catch that shark. We waited, and waited but nothing happened. I wandered over to my dad and he said, "How cool was that? We saw a shark!" Yup, but I wasn't here to just see one, I was here to catch one.
As I stood on that shoreline I noticed the weather was changing. The temperature dropped and the wind picked up fast. We checked the radar on the cellphone and sure enough a big storm was rolling in. I looked off to the west and saw the lightning, now I will fish through almost anything. I won't fish with lightning in the air. I have seen what happens when you are the tallest thing in a low lying area. Lightning hits the tallest thing, and I won't die for a fish, no fish is worth it. We brought the lines in and packed up the gear. We closed the trunk just as the first raindrops started to fall on the windshield.
So that was the way it ended. I FAILED. I have fought with this fact for the last few days. I can't deny it, in the end I failed to catch a shark. I tried, I did my best, but that doesn't change the facts. I did learn a lot from this experience though. About tides, about weather, and the importance of not letting a change in your plans ruin your journey. When you ask my dad about his day on that beach in Louisiana he talks about the water, the wind, and that shark. He still tells people about my fishing. He has no loss of faith in what I am trying to accomplish with it. I guess I shouldn't either, after all we are going to Disney World next spring. My research says we will only be an hour or so from the beach.