By Bob Jamison

          It wasn’t just a coincidence that friends from the great northwest (Washington state) recently shared an adventure on the salty bays of the Gulf of Mexico. In fact it was the culmination of plans for a long time. Of course, the contrast was a bit wide compared to a great fishing trip for Sturgeon fish with the late and great Jess Kaps. Jess and I fished the mouth of the Columbia River that borders Oregon and Washington and that’s where it was the chance meeting with new local friends there. The plans started then when we talked (bragged) of Red Fish and Speckled Trout in these parts.

          Well, uh…we could have ‘stretched’ our fishing stories a bit about size, numbers and comfortable warm weather (a little lying is legal amongst fishermen), but our new friends Bjorne and Christine Hanson agreed they might come to see for themselves. What we discovered to our surprise that some of our yarns actually turned out to be true.

          What we really didn’t expect, however, was while Christine was landing her second Red Fish, we saw a flash of golden color in the early morning semi clear waters of Lake Calcasieu (bay) in Louisiana. Previously, other reds we landed were pale due to the deeper water environment of the inland coastal waters. The almost startling golden color was due to greater sunlight in the shallow water environment of the nearby brackish water marsh. Our veteran guide, Captain Clay LaMott, (biglakeguideservice.com) explained that the sun could have significant effect on the color of the Red Fish. Something had a lot of effect on this trophy that was handled expertly by the lady Christine aboard. She obviously enjoyed her first time with the southern sub sea line stretcher.

          We might say (reluctantly) that our experience in the coastal waters will not quite compare with the magnificent salmon country of the coastal northwest. What with all the varieties of salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and others we talked about, I couldn’t help but wonder just a little about our comparatively smaller bay fish. But if I didn’t miss my guess, their smiles of enjoyment were real. This was especially true at dinner time when Chef Bjorne prepared excellent filets of Speckled Trout.

          Folks that really enjoy fishing in coastal waters should consider investing a relatively modest expense by hiring a knowledgeable and considerate guide. These guides fish almost every day and all of us old barnacled legged salts should know that fish do change their habits from time to time and sometimes daily. Weather, temperature, wind, barometric pressure and tides might be responsible. These guys (and gals) are in tune with important factors that can turn just a fishing trip into a memorable experience.

          The fantastic new boating equipment available today is another feature you will find with almost all good guides. They will include Global Positioning (GPS), fish finding & depth indicators, sonar imaging and navigating aids. Rain or shine, darkness or daylight, these fantastic devices can tell you where you are, what’s underneath your position and furthermore, will copy your trail and allow you to return along that track to your position of your launching. No more worry about being lost in fog or rain that could obscure your visual direction and add greatly to your enjoyment.

          And at the end of the trip with memories from when you were on the water, you can review those timeless experiences with pictures and telling friends of the one that got away and the ones that didn’t. On the other hand, nothing could be quite so rewarding is that mounted trophy on the wall that will always remind you of that epic battle of landing it as it turned the water to gold.