We join Yellow Dog’s Louisiana Program Director on the second half of his summer trip to Louisiana. Read Part One: Venice – Fishing Capital of the World for a report on off-shore fly fishing action.
New Orleans – Fun and Food
In the middle of our trip, we built on a free day for ourselves to go into the city and experience the sights, sounds, and food of New Orleans. Our first stop was the National WWII Museum. It was a humble experience, to say the least, and kindled an appreciation for, “The Greatest Generation.”
We then walked a short distance to the Cochon Restaurant for some of the best Cajun and southern cooking in the city. I’d recommend the fried alligator. Afterward, we walked around the French Quarter including a mandatory stop at Café du Monde for their famous beignets. It was then onto our next leg of the trip.
Hopedale – Year Round Low Country Fishery
While Venice had a strong presence in the oil and gas industry, Hopedale was good ‘ole boy country. Instead of pipes and refineries, the waterways were lined with oyster and shrimp boats. One would expect to see Forest Gump and Lieutenant Dan at the helm of one of these boats, but there is no need to keep running once you get here.
Even though just an hour outside of the city, Hopedale was also at the end of the road. If you were to drive any farther, you’d drive into the marsh! When we pulled into the marina, the Dogwood Lodge came into view. It is a decommissioned Coast Guard vessel that has been converted into a relaxed live-a-board lodge. Although nothing fancy, it had everything an angler would need while fishing – simple rooms, a small galley where good food was served, and an indoor/outdoor social area with comfortable seating, flat-screen television, and a self-serve open bar. Best of all, you’re able to literally step off the lodge and into your guide’s skiff, and then it’s out into the marsh. No drive time eating into your time out on the water.
The next two days were filled with spotting giant redfish and black drum tails that would pop up like waving flags giving away their positions. Perhaps it was better than the water was higher and more off-color than normal which prevented us from seeing what laid beneath. Otherwise, our knees would have been shaking as we’d come into casting distance of these giant 30 plus pound fish. In addition to redfish and black drum, we also wrangled with a few nice-sized alligator gar. If you’ve never seen one, the best way to describe an alligator gar would be a muskie with the bill of an alligator.
As I reflect back on this trip, the best way for me to describe it would be – authentic. From the locations, locals, fishing, food, etc – it was all real. It’s for real anglers that want a real experience both on and off the water.
And if it’s someone’s first time to the Cajun low country, I would say, “Laissez le bon temps rouler!”