A few days ago, things almost returned to normal for me. Eight friends and relatives traveled to Hopedale, Louisiana, for two days of inshore fishing. We drove to a portion of Louisiana that, according to some folks, was not supposed to exist after Katrina and the BP oil spill.
The Southern Shrimp Alliance’s Jon Williams predicted the spill could last 40 years. CBS News Network’sMelanie Warner suggested that “this could mean a permanent end” to the Gulf’s seafood industry and that, “ten years from now . . . there will very likely still be seafood — shrimp, bluefin tuna, and maybe snapper and grouper — that are contaminated with BP’s oil.”
Unlike those scientists, I can personally attest that the Mississippi River estuary system—stretching thousands of acres around New Orleans—is alive and flourishing.
My personal journey back to normal occurred on October 19 and 20. We arose early to be at the boat dock at 6:00 a.m. In groups of four, we boarded two 26-foot bay boats. One was powered with a 350 HP Mercury outboard, and the other with a 300 HP Yamaha outboard. Having stowed away our drinks and sandwiches, and turned out hats on backwards, we roared down a slick, foggy, and nameless bayou (at least to me) at nearly 50 mph, listening to the dulcet tones of country music coming from the boat’s stereo.
Twenty minutes later, we were fishing. According to the experts, in waters that should have been totally polluted with oil or did not exist at all. Not so. We were surrounded by beautiful estuarial waters filled with shrimp and fish as our daily catches demonstrated.
And did we catch fish! But we returned redfish that were less than 16 inches and trout less than 12 to the nutrient-rich waters where they will become fat adults down the road.
And again next year, I will thank the Almighty for reminding me of what being normal (when normal means fishing with friends!) can do for one’s psyche!
I don’t know what damage the recent Hurricane Zeta will have done to this amazing area, but based on what I have seen over a half dozen years of fishing the area, I am confident that the resilient wetlands and its hard-working and resilient people will return it to normal once again—and soon.
A FINAL THOUGHT.
Tomorrow is election day, and like the people and wetlands of Louisiana, our land has a chance to show its resiliency. I pray that America uses this opportunity, regardless of who wins and who loses, to do so graciously.