Ever entered uncharted waters and do so in the middle of a fishing tournament? That was the case last weekend when I joined Bobby Carter of the Golden Nugget Casino in Biloxi and John Carter of the Island View Casino in Gulfport for the third annual Black and Gold Alumni Classic in Grand Isle, Louisiana.
The main focus of the event was to join several former and current New Orleans Saints players and coaches to help raise money for the Green Beret and Wounded Warriors foundations.
The current group of Saints were former Moss Point and Southern Miss standout Tom Johnson, kicker Garret Hartley and assistant coach Joe Vitt to name a few. The former players included Bobby Herbert, Stan Brock, John Tice, Hoby Brenner and Hokie Gajan.
After an evening filled with food, music and a live auction, it was time to fish the inshore division with speckled trout being the target species. We departed Bridge Side Marina and headed west toward Fourchon, the home port where the BP Oil Spill unfolded off the Louisiana Cast.
More importantly, we left the marina relying on a few fishing spots from a group of Biloxi anglers who were in Grand Isle working the BP cleanup. Not knowing the waters like the locals, it wasn't long before our fishing instincts kicked in.
Equipped with live shrimp and live croakers, we liked our chances if we could locate structure, moving water and baitfish. Personally, I like using live croakers because their an enemy to a large speckled trout. When a female speckled trout spawns out in the spring, croakers come through and feast on the eggs. Obviously, that doesn't sit well with the mother trout and any opportunity she gets to return the favor and feast on croakers, she will.
Now, the first goal was to locate structure. Fortunately, we found a series of rock piles built on top of a sunken structure just off the Fourchon beachfront. As we approached the rocks, there were several boats on the north side. But we opted to fish the south side where the current was moving and waves were rolling along the rocks. That meant trout and other predators should be cruising the south side looking the feed.
The same side of the rock pile also featured finger-sized mullet and minnows so we liked our chances.
Basically, it's the same three things we look for while fishing the nearshore waters from Pass Christian to Ocean Springs. And it didn't take long before our instincts paid off.
John Carter boated the first two trout while fishing from the back of the boat before Bobby Carter got into the action from the front. In a short period of time, action was fast and furious with the biggest trout weighing three-pounds and the others tipping the scales at two-pounds.
Just as the action picked up to the point that fish were being caught on every cast, three porpoise swam within 10 feet of the boat. When this generally happens, fishing completely shuts down. Not the case. Remarkably, the action continued as the porpoise remained near the boat for several minutes.
That, to me, was a first and showed that trout fishing can be unpredictable at times, so stick with your instincts at all times.
Despite the obstacles we faced, we were fishing for a cause and it turned into one of the best trout trips I've experienced. As far as the players and coaches, Johnson, Hebert, Vitt and their crews also caught some nice trout.
In the end, the Black and Gold Alumni Classic successfully raised money through fishing, a pair of Drew Brees auctioned off autographed cleats, several signed footballs and other Saints memorabilia. Brees' cleats netted more than $4,000 alone. Truly a great experience.
Buckle up and take a kid fishing.
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