Foundation leads youth anglers to No. 1 fishing lodge, hottest watering hole in Louisiana
What do you get when you take kids, fishing guides, the No. 1 fishing lodge in the state, and fish in the hottest waterways, and put it all together? The “Take Me Fishing Foundation for Kids” is the answer.
Twenty-six kids had the opportunity to fish in Buras last Monday, with six experienced anglers - Johnny Polk, Roland "Goat" Champagne, Danny Ledet, Willie Smith. Tim Jones and Danny Ledet - all of whom raised money for the excursion.
"The kids didn’t pay for anything,” said Polk. “We provided everything they needed and in return we had the pleasure of watching them smile as they caught fish.”
In three years the foundation, which is open to kids 5 to 16 years of age, has taken boys and girls fishing in the Louisiana coastal marshes.
Polk and a group of area business associates helped raise money for this year’s event, which helped sponsor juvenile cardiac patients.
The kids boarded a bus, provided by Jay and Teddie Roberts of the Cypress Inn, and was driven to Cajun Adventures in Buras.
On Monday afternoon, all the young fishermen were instructed in scuba diving techniques in the swimming pool. Instructions were given by Darrell Deroche of Harry's Dive Shop. Sandwiches and drinks were provided for the afternoon by Jay DeSoto of Sal’s 90 West restaurant.
The kids were having a blast swimming in the pool while the anticipation of fishing the next morning began to build.
One of the local fishing captains, Ross Montet of Luling, arrived that afternoon and wanted to scout fishing trip for the next morning. My son Hunter and I went with him.
We dropped his 22-foot Skeeter in the Mississippi River and crossed to the east side into Quarantine Bay.
We fished a few of Montet’s favorite points on a low tide. Hunter caught a legal 16-inch puppy drum on a 2-inch chartreuse sparkle beetle to start things off.
When Montet noticed the birds hitting the water in the distance, he quickly turned the boat towards them. We then cranked up the 250-horsepower Yamaha and headed toward the Iron Banks.
Staying up-wind and killing the motor, we drifted toward the birds’ feeding frenzy.
Hunter threw his white and yellow shad rig, I threw the 2-inch chartreuse and avocado in tandem rig, and Montet threw a single 3-inch avocado and red sparkle beetle.
Immediately, we were reeling in the fish and Montet lowered the power pole.
"By lowering the power pole from the back, the front of the boat will cause the wave action to calm down and water will eddy, holding the bait close to the boat,” he said. “If the bait stays, the fish will stay."
And just like he said, the bait remained in its resting spot and we caught fish for the next hour and a half, until a thunderstorm chased us back to dry land.
We returned to the lodge with 20 speckle trout and 50 white trout. Most of our fish measured 14 to 16 inches in length.
After eating hot dogs and hamburgers for supper, all the kids were brought into the main lodge and were greeted by Jim Bob Allgood of “Redneck Adventures Television Show,” Ryan Lambert of Cajun Fishing Adventures, and Johnny Polk and his staff of Take Me Fishing foundations.
The purpose of the trip was to go fishing, but there was also a fishing tournament for the group.
The largest redfish and speckle trout won a trophy for each division.
Each kid was presented with a rod-n-reel, a duffel bag filled with snacks and Louisiana Fish Fry products, a T-shirt, a night stay at the lodge with food, and a promise to go fishing the next morning with a professional guide.
From the look on each kids face, Christmas in July had just passed. The activities of swimming, playing in the swimming pool, watching TV, and playing cards, settled the kids down by 10 p.m.
The next morning, the guides had lined-up the 14 boats and trailers outside the lodge. The sun was just starting to peak over the horizon in an orange glow.
At this point, the kids were instructed to group up with a guide. After loading up, each truck pulled out with their cargo of young fishermen in the early morning light.
We launched again in the Mississippi River and headed east into the Quarantine Bay area.
I agreed to help film and carry a camera for Gary Rispone, of Paradise Louisiana. I rode from boat to boat with Jim Bob Allgood of “Redneck Adventures,” Ryan Lambert of Cajun Adventures, and Willie Smith, staff member with the foundation.
With a guide’s supervision, the kids fished locations familiar to fishermen who frequent the area - Alligator Point, Raccoon Point, California Point, the Washout, the Battledore Reef, the Iron Banks, Spanish Point, Pelican Point and Rig No. 4.
Each boat was putting plenty of fish in the ice chest and the kids were having a blast.
Baits used were live shrimp and croakers, avocado and red, and purple and white glow, smokey and chartreuse sparkle beetles with a cork and some without a cork.
With the temperatures in the high 80s and sun beating down, everyone concluded their fish trip at 11 a.m.
Back at the lodge, the largest redfish and speckle trout was weighed in by Polk and “Goat.”
When the last boat arrived, the winners in their divisions were jumping with joy.
After all the fish was cleaned and the kids had eaten their fill of hotdogs, the award ceremony took place.
Daniel Gibson and my sone who was a sponsor, won the speckle trout division.
Peyton Fabre - a leukemia survivor at age 8 - and sponsor Ryan Fabre won the redfish division.
Fabre said it best when he said, “This was better than going to Disney World!"
Polk and his staff would like to thank all the contributors for making the fishing trip possible.
Anyone wishing to help in the future, contact Johnny Polk at 504-416-0836.Bass tournament
“Fishing for the Frankie” bass tournament will take place Aug. 8 at Pier 90.
Launch time is 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Weigh-in will be at noon. The registration cost is $100 per 2-man team. The event will benefit Frankie Champagne, Jr., who is battling lung cancer.
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