2001-09-15 Teal Season

Teal Season officially opened in Southeast Louisiana on Saturday, September 15th this year. Joe Pecot and I were there, just as we have been for the past 15 years or so. I keep losing count. Teal Season is usually brutal because of the hot, muggy weather. This year was a little different. The temperature rose to the high 80’s but it was not unbearable as in years past.

Joe and I drove down to Venice, LA in the late afternoon on Friday. We stayed at a trailer in Venice compliments of friends of Joe. This trailer was very nice. It was air-conditioned with a large screened in back porch.

We arrived too late to go out into the marsh and check the hunting location or do any fishing, so we settled in for the night anticipating the early morning hunt. We arose early, launched the boat, drove to the hunting location, set out the decoys and were ready to go just before sunrise around 6 a.m. It was a pleasant morning with a light refreshing north breeze. Perfect for hunting Teal.

We had a great morning hunt shooting our limit of 4 each in the matter of a hour or so and at 7:15 we were headed out looking for redfish. These are pictures I took of the morning hunt.

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Joe across the bayou after collecting a teal.
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Joe is such a great retriever, who needs a dog?
Three big Mottled ducks flying overhead.
Three big Mottled ducks flying overhead.

We had several big ducks fly over and into the pond.  It was beautiful to watch them.  But it was Teal Season and these ducks were spared.  I didn’t get any pictures of Teal.  The only shots they got were from my 12 gauge shotgun.

After the morning hunt, Joe & I set out in search of fish – speckled trout and redfish.  The week before the hunt, there was a Tropical Storm in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida that produced high northeast winds all week.  We did not think we were going to be able to fish in the Gulf because of high seas.  However, when he looked out, we saw that the winds had died down and the Gulf was calm.  As we drifted into the Gulf we started casting.  Joe was using a plastic minnow and I was using dead shrimp on a hook.  It didn’t take 5 minutes before I had hooked a big red – WOW!  Joe was using light tackle and 8 lb. test line looking for speckled trout, but the Reds were hungry.  At one time, we thought Joe was going to lose all his line on one fish, but we were able to land every fish we hooked and every one of them were redfish.  I caught the biggest one weighing in at 13 lbs. 10 ounces (pictured below), which I released.  We kept several nice eating-sized fish, then headed offshore to fish the rigs.

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Joe showing off a nice redfish caught in the Gulf of Mexico.
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Joe’s got a big redfish hooked on light tackle.
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Joe’s lightweight reel nearly our of line.
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Showing off one of my five for the day.

We didn’t catch anything offshore, so we headed to West Bay looking for specks. We didn’t find any specks at West Bay so came back to the spot where we first found the Reds. They had moved on, so we headed back to the trailer.

The picture above is of Joe’s light tackle. You can barely make it out, but we could see the spool as he was just about to run out of line. But Joe is the best fisherman I know and he didn’t lose a single fish! To the right is a picture of one of the reds I caught. We ended up with our limit of 5 each redfish even throwing several bigs ones back.

Sunday

Sunday was a different story.  The north breeze was gone, but it was still a nice morning.  We were in the blind at 6 a.m. but the hunt was slow.  We bagged only 4 teal Sunday morning before we decided to go fishing.

Joe in the pirogue picking up the decoys.
Joe in the pirogue picking up the decoys.

The fishing was not as good on Sunday as it was on Saturday. The Gulf waters were a little more smoother and we went back to West Bay where we caught more redfish but only 5 speckled trout. We stopped at the jetties of Tiger Pass and fished the rocks, but despite the water being clean, we didn’t catch anything so we came on in, packed up and went home.

Overall, it was an EXCELLENT trip. After several years of bad weather and somewhat poor hunts during Teal Season, we ended up with one of the best Teal hunts of recent years. And the trip was filled with many outstanding shots. Joe had two doubles and an unbelievable overhead shot at a teal that came from behind us over the 10′ high canes that still amazes me. How he was able to grab his shotgun and shoot a teal going at least 40 mph all within two seconds when it appeared over those canes will forever be etched in my memory.

I had one great shot of a teal that was in a band of nine or so that swung around the canes from the left. I was sitting on my shell bucket facing Joe when this band of teal appeared around the canes at near full speed. They were on us so fast that I was unable to speak and did not even have time to tell Joe they were there, I jumped up and felled one of two that came over the pond while the others went over the canes and out of Joe’s sight. As I have said before, shooting a teal at near full speed over the pond is one of my most rewarding shots and I have one to tell about for this 2001 Teal Season!

I can’t wait until the opening of regular season in November.