Wading adds a different dimension to fishing
Kirk Stansel, a dear friend of mine and one of a trio of brothers who operate Hackberry Rod and Gun in southwest Louisiana, has asked me on several occasions, "why get out of a perfectly good boat?"
If I ran my charters on Calcasieu Lake, I might ask the same question.
Mind you, Kirk has caught just as many trophy trout from in a boat as I have while wading, but there is something special about being eye-level and in the same environment as the fish.
It's also cool to see a large school of trout and redfish swim right by you or, on a few occasions, right between my legs.
Waders negotiate terrain a boat could never reach without flushing every fish in the area. I might walk five steps, make five casts and catch a fish. Then, I shuffle for another first down and methodically cast to the point where sand and grass meet. My first, second, third and 10th casts are met with a thump, and the fish never know I am there, something I could never pull off out of a boat.
What used to be 90 percent wade-fishing charters has morphed to 80-20, boat-fishing to wading. It could be because of sharks, stingrays, bacteria or just the unknown.
Hyperbole aside, you have better odds of being bitten by a dog than a large gray linebacker with sharp teeth, more likely to step on a snake than a stingray and are more likely to perish from the common flu than Vibrio vulnificus.
Stingrays lying on the bay floor, bacteria roving with the tides and jellyfish hovering on the surface are all good reasons to stay in the boat. But, a little common sense and protection alleviates any reservations of negotiating the brine on foot.
Common sense is the greatest deterrent. Don't wade if you have an open wound. Keep a first-aid supply of alcohol or hydrogen peroxide on the boat and treat a prick or cut immediately if seawater consumes. Wear a pair of nylon "wading" pants if the sting of hot jelly bothers you. If you are apprehensive about your health, slip on a pair of breathable waders and keep on casting.
I'll admit, I have had a few brushes with sharks, literally.
The Hump, a fertile flat situated between the Port O'Connor jetty and Pass Cavallo, has been a favorite wading locale of mine for the past 15 years. I don't have enough fingers or toes to count the number of days I have taken limits of trout on topwaters and plastics there. For years, I had to leave Matagorda before 5 a.m. and make the hourlong jaunt just to get a spot before the sun crept over the horizon. Many days I would arrive, and there would already be 25 waders casting to every sand and grass pothole.
For some reason, anglers have just now realized that the Hump is infested with sharks.
I rarely see anyone, besides myself, taking the plunge and getting wet.
Few things trump my bottlenose dolphin buddy swimming by to say "good morning." We have waded The Hump together for over a decade now, and she quickly identifies me as the guy who feeds her sand trout, probably by the creaking sound of arthritis in my knees and elbows and the agitating topwater I habitually throw.
I show my appreciation to her by feeding, and she counters by keeping sharks off my stringer. Many people spend hundreds of dollars to swim with the dolphins.
I guess they do the same on a charter with me.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (firstname.lastname@example.org).