A few days after the Deepwater Horizon sank beneath the waves and millions of gallons of sweet Louisiana crude started pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, Field & Stream asked photographer and FlyTalk blogger Tim Romano and me to drop everything and head for the coast to cover the unfolding disaster. Tim and I had never met, but we both had profound connections to the Lousiana marsh country. I lived in New Orleans as a young man, and have returned to fish the marshes over the years when ever I could. Tim was a volunteer in the clean-up efforts after Katrina, and is close friends with many of the best fishing guides in the region. Neither of us could accept the fact that all that oil was spewing out not fifty miles away from this place we'd both come to love and revere (what we, and everybody else we spoke with kept saying was "I just can't seem to get my head around this…"). Neither of us could do anything about the spill. But we could help tell the stories of the people and places affected. And so neither of us hesitated a second when the call came. **
** We started our coverage in Hopedale, a small town 30 miles south of New Orleans that's located in the heart of the fishing, shrimping, and oystering communities of the bayou. Tim had been here just last January, hunting and catching big bull reds. I'd last been here in December of 2009 with a lifelong fishing buddy and my ten-year-old son, Harold, on his first trip to the bayou. He caught his first big red, and altogether we picked up enough trout, reds, and prime blue crabs to feed the twenty people who stay at our house over the Christmas holidays. There is nowhere like this place on the entire planet.