On the morning of April 21st, 2010, I sat down to breakfast around 6 a.m. at Woodland Plantation in Port Sulfur, Louisiana. I was groggy. My shoulders were sore from the previous day of wrenching bull redfish out of the marsh. Then somewhere between my second cup of coffee and first bite of bacon, Captain David Iverson walked into the dining room and said, “Hey, did y’all hear that an oil rig exploded last night?” Nobody seemed too worried about it.
None of the guides and anglers in the group knew at the time that this explosion was the beginning of the Deep Water Horizon fiasco that would dump millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. We finished our breakfast, set back out into the Delta, and had a repeat day of crushing reds to 40 pounds. I was there filming a “Hook Shots” episode, and by the time the video was edited a week later, I feared that I might have documented the last days of redfishing in the marsh.
Luckily I did not. After nail-biting months of worrying that the Mississippi Delta and its fishery would be ruined, nothing could make me happier than to be back here now, writing this after a day of fishing in one of my favorite places on planet Earth. That’s Hunter Cole from Penn in the photo above, holding one of the beasts that make the Delta so special. It was far from the only fish we caught. Check out the video clip below I shot just yesterday with Cole and redfish pros Greg Watts and Brian Daysinger.
There are still many unanswered questions about the spill, particularly, what happened to the 1.27 million unaccounted-for barrels that were not skimmed, captured at the well, burned, dispersed, or naturally broken down? Up the road from our lodge remain law firm billboards with 800-numbers for filing claims against BP. I hope there are no hidden remnants of Deep Water Horizon that rear up and threaten this ecosystem further, but between hurricanes and oil company ineptitude, I think we’ve learned that this place can survive.
The marsh was pristine as ever yesterday, and I was thrilled to see boats brimming with rods in tow on the highway, smiles on the faces of our guides, ducks flying overhead, and drags burning under the strain of bull reds. If you’ve never fished or hunted the Louisiana bayou, it’s a bucket-list-worthy destination anyone can afford to visit. There is no other place quite like it. – Cermele.