Cajun Fishing Adventures
By Jan S. Maizler
By Jan S. Maizler
A Great Memory-
Possibly the strongest recollection I’ll retain of my recent travel to Cajun Fishing Adventures (CFA) is their loyalty and devotion to their customers. This was something I experienced many times, but one vignette stands out.
It was a cold but sunny March day. I started fishing early that morning, and went non-stop until 3 p.m, releasing over 100 redfish. I suddenly felt famished and reached into the ice chest for some packed lunch. I struck gold when I pulled out a huge delicious roast beef Po Boy sandwich, and promptly devoured it. As my guide drove the bay boat to the nearby boat ramp, I emailed Manager Ray Stansberry that I was quite full and would be missing dinner that evening.
I returned to the main lodge, showered, and promptly fell asleep. I awakened around 11 p.m. and went to the centralized kitchen for a tall glass of iced tea. As I approached the shelf, lo and behold, I found a saran-wrapped plate of food with my name neatly printed on a yellow stick-it. What an act of consideration! Feeling grateful and thoroughly impressed, I went back to my room and enjoyed a wee-hours dinner of pan-seared redfish, capellini with cream sauce and Cajun sausage, plus garlic bread. It’s not often a guest gets this kind of treatment, but at this destination, service-plus is the norm.
An Impressive Place-
This venerable hunting and fishing lodge began operating in 1980. Its’ current location began in 2001 at 35427 Highway 23 in Buras, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana smack dab in the middle of the fertile and fish-filled Louisiana Marsh.
The entire lodge has accommodations for 35 people per night. The main lodge where I stayed sleeps 18 people, while the back lodge sleeps 11, and the fly lodge sleeps 6. And the demography of its clients is impressive: approximately 5000 people per year. In addition, CFA’s guests have been from 42 states and 11 foreign countries.
In the main lodge, I enjoyed their pool table as well as their large flat screen TV while plopped in one of the spacious plush couches. Behind my building was a delightful swimming pool and garden for any angler that desired some down time or an invigorating early springtime dip.
Cajun Fishing Adventures is proud of it perseverance and re-emergence in the face of significant challenges such as hurricanes and the BP oil spill. During storms like Katrina and Isaac, CFA owner and founder Ryan Lambert was back on the scene as soon as possible for assessment, repair, and full restoration. As to any mishaps with any oil rigs, CFA takes a fundamentally common sense approach which emphasizes safety and environmental awareness. As for myself, I have returned to the Louisiana Marsh three times since the spill and have witnessed no ill effects on the shallow water fishery.
Captain Ryan Lambert sees this operation as being in the entertainment and hospitality business. For Ryan, how his clients are treated is a central tenet of the CFA experience. The pillars of outstanding service, great amenities, superb lodgings and cuisine, and some of the best guides in the region focus on creating a family atmosphere with clients that ensures long-standing relationships with customers who come to feel more like old friends. Ryan wants everyone to feel welcome at CFA, be they eco-tourists, retreat participants, night guests, hunters, anglers, or both.
CFA Guiding Services-
The lodge has approximately 15 – 20 fishing guides who operate on an independent contractor basis. The vast majority utilize large (but) shallow draft bay boats that either drift, electric motor, or anchor to sight cast or do targeted spot casting for redfish and seatrout. Many times during the year, the guides encounter vast schools of large black drum and some huge jack crevalles pushing 30 pounds. Amongst this majority of guides are sub groups who favor either bottom fishing with jigheads and shrimp, popping corks and plastic jigs (fished pure or shrimp-adorned), or doing strictly lures-only fishing for the bountiful numbers of local game fish. The remainder of guides own flats boats and who pole and sight-fish with lures and flies only.
The Fishery Itself-
The two sources of a seemingly endless abundance of baitfish like mullet, crabs, shrimp, and minnows are the massive Mississippi River and gigantic Gulf of Mexico. The lodge itself is nestled quite close to the shores of the river region that is a naturally occurring vast delta which filters and modulates the interaction of the fresh water coming from the north and the salty gulf waters to the south.
It helps to think of this region as a massive turbine which spews food and a truly vast habitat that makes “The Marsh” home to the largest biomass of redfish on the planet. All of this food makes for redfish that many anglers consider to be the heaviest weight to length ratio in their entire range. And the numbers of redfish and trout caught and released each day can be staggeringly large: 75 to 100 redfish or seatrout per outing barely raises an eyebrow at Cajun Fishing Adventures.
My Angling Experience at CFA-
Day #1- My first day with Captain Joe DiMarco began about 24 hours before an expected strong cold front. As we began fishing, we had winds of moderate strength, but Joe said that the two factors that would inhibit the action in the beginning were low tidal levels and low water temperature. But since we had an incoming tide and partially sunny skies, he expected the redfish action to pick up as the day unfolded.
Joe’s preferred method of rigging was popping corks, monofilament leader, and a jig head rigged with a Berkley penny-colored shrimp. True to his prediction, in a couple of hours, the action picked up and got better and better. His rigs performed beautifully and our tally for the day was 20 underslot redfish, 6 slot reds (we kept) for the lodge, and 7 overslot reds to 20 pounds. Joe’s fast bay boat had us back to the ramp in ten minutes.
Day #2- My guide for the second day was a different captain, and part of a wise rotation plan set up by CFA manager Ray Stansberry. Captain Todd Seither began with the same rig as Captain Joe, but he insisted on impaling a fresh shrimp on the jig hook. Todd felt that real scent of shrimp added an extra and realistic odor benefit to our rigs. He also contended that this would help the redfish overcome their lethargy on this rather cold and very windy day.
In Todd’s sleek and shiny Skeeter bay boat, the run to our spot was no more than fifteen minutes. I’d expected that we’d have to wait for higher water and warming temperatures, but the first pop of my rig was hammered immediately and the drag sung out as the fish made a long run. In five minutes, I had a fine bull red of 20 pounds alongside the boat ready for pictures and release. The action that morning was “crazy-good” and by the time we were heading in, our tally was 50 underslot reds, 10 slot reds for the lodge, and 9 overslot reds to 22 pounds.
Day #3- My guide that day was Captain Cody Obiol. I felt that his enthusiasm and exuberance offset the severe conditions of almost freezing temperatures and gale-force winds. Cody told me that on days like this, the CFA guides stuck to the sheltered canals not just for comfort and safety, but also because the extreme conditions drove the redfish from the shallow bays into these deeper passages with warmer, quieter waters.
Cody was sure the reds would be hugging the bottom at first light, so we used jig heads baited with shrimp right on the bottom. After trying a few spots, we hit the mother lode and released about 100 small reds as well as kept 4 slot reds for the lodge. Later in the day, it got warmer and calmer. Cody suggested we try a nearby sheltered open bay shoreline and fish with plug tackle and “pure” plastic jigs. Since this setup was my personal favorite, I readily agreed. I caught 3 more slot reds by targeted casting and then I decided to call it a day.
Day #4- My final day was a thrill in being guided by CFA founder, Captain Ryan Lambert. The last day was much warmer, but featured strong northeast winds- a direction he clearly did not like. But Ryan loves a challenge which took the form of us fishing the day using plug tackle and plastic jigs about ninety per cent of the time. By day’s end Ryan had caught 5 bull redfish to 20 pounds and I’d taken 2 fish to 9 pounds. It was a pleasure fishing with Ryan and getting to know him.
The following morning it was time to say goodbye. Despite the fact that my flight back to Miami was not until evening- and that I planned to spend the day in New Orleans- I would have gladly given that up to fish another day in this marshy paradise.
Cajun Fishing Adventures
35427 Hwy. 23
Web Site- http://www.cajunfishingadventures.com