Over the years my brother Bill Shoopman of Kansas City, Mo., has decided his favorite time of year to visit the Teche Area is when sugar cane plants are belching white plumes into the sky in October.
Bill and our younger brother Keith Shoopman of Belton, Mo., formerly of Kansas City, have other reasons (such as consistently fair to good fishing and good food) to make the trip here every two years. Then there are the great people like Mike Sinitiere, Huey Olivier, Todd Semar, Gregory Bourque and others who have made them feel at home, feel special as visitors to the heart of Cajun Country.
Add Loreauville Mayor Al Broussard and Paul Bergeron of Jefferson Island, co-workers at 3-D Chemical, to the list after the two men started the marathon four-day fishing odyssey with a speckled trout fishing trip on Oct. 17, the morning after the Missourians arrived at the end of a 12 1/2-hour drive from Belton. They were in for a treat, despite choppy water conditions.
Broussard and I talked and texted back and forth for several weeks about the possibility of hooking up when my brothers came down. I’ve always known him as someone who puts speckled trout in the boat.
To my surprise and delight, the mayor also lined up a friend to provide another boat for that speckled trout fishing trip.
The entourage met and launched at the Cypremort Yacht Club Boat Landing. Broussard, a longtime member and past commodore of the Yacht Club, and Bergeron were waiting for us when we got there at sunrise.
Broussard, Bill and my son Jacob were in the Loreauville resident’s 16 1/2-foot fiberglass saltwater boat. Bergeron obliged with his 20-foot long aluminum boat and carried Keith and I out into Vermilion Bay.
“Fishing for specks I thought it was pretty cool that two strangers would offer up their boats and take us fishing. Chasing the birds was pretty neat, too,” Keith wrote later in an email.
Bill said he loved the smell of saltwater, which ranked up there with the sight of moss draped from cypress trees in Lake Dauterive-Fausse Pointe, dining on boudin for breakfast and Southern hospitality. He’s fascinated by the sugar cane harvest, also.
We started fishing shortly after sunrise at The Hammock, where some good catches were reported the previous week. However, the wind was beginning to kick up there and the fish weren’t cooperating at all.
Both boats ran around Cypremort Point to The Cove, which was protected somewhat from the hard southeast wind. For the better part of the morning we tapped white trout and speckled trout on soft plastics, either bouncing them off the bottom or using them under a popping cork.
Some of the fish were caught under birds there and a short distance away as the two boats vied with others trying to get fish pointed out to them by diving birds.
Soon, though, pulling fish from each stop got tougher and tougher. There was some reluctance to leave, but eventually we did and ran around Blue Point to the Trash Pile near Mud Point. It was late morning and the wind was whipping up the water, on which there were fewer and fewer boats.
Broussard’s boat made the best move when Bill spotted birds far away from Trash Pile. Their boat bounced out there, then hit nice speckled trout as they followed the fish and called us to join them in the chop.
That was about the last hurrah. The school went AWOL and we decided to return to The Cove via Shark Bayou, stopping for for lunch — cold cuts and chips — before giving The Cove one more try.
Jacob and I cleaned almost all the 64 speckled trout and white trout — a majority of them from Broussard’s boat — at the Yacht Club. Broussard, we discovered, has fished with a mutual friend of ours and also learned how to clean speckled trout quickly and efficiently from charter boat captain Jeff Poe over on Big Lake.
We ended the trip relaxing as Broussard’s guests in the Yacht Club, a fine place with a great view. It was interesting to see the row of photos of past commodores, many from in and around New Iberia.
Bill, 55, Keith, Jacob, and I couldn’t thank Broussard and Bergeron enough for the day. It was a great way to start four days of fishing sunrise to sunset, then eating crawfish etouffee cooked by my wife, June Boutte Shoopman, on Wednesday, po-boys and boudin from Bi-Lo Supermarket on Thursday, June’s red beans and rice on Friday and her lip-smacking chicken and sausage gumbo on Saturday.
It was bass fishing or bust the next three days, starting Thursday at Lake Dauterive Boat Landing, then going to Myette Point Boat Landing on Friday and Saturday. We got into a routine to get up and out of the house around 6 a.m. each day.
Bill found a radio station he liked because it played Cajun music in the predawn hour we were on the road pulling a boat each morning to one of our fishing destinations. He was able to pull several words from the commentary of the Cajun French-speaking host and enjoyed those minutes listening to music and a beautiful dialect.
A couple links of fresh, hot boudin really made the start to his day a good one the morning we stopped at Dago’s Mobil & Grocery in Lydia on the way to Cypremort Point. He got into boudin for breakfast about eight years ago during an early morning visit to Blanchard’s in Coteau Holmes on the way to Bayou Benoit Boat Landing.
Keith, 51, sipped his coffee each morning and took it all in. He is a man of few words, spoken or written.
Lake Dauterive-Fausse Pointe gave up some nice, nice bass just a few hours after a major, noisy cold front roared through the area Oct. 18. The clouds dispersed, however, to give way to a bluebird sky and you know what that means.
We pulled most of our keeper bass on spinnerbaits early off cypress trees in Lake Dauterive (thanks for the tip, Tee-Roy Savoy), then went to the Honey Hole and Little Dogleg before going to the cove near Peche Coulee, where we lunched on Braunschweiger sandwiches, and left for the Ceabon Canal and “back borrow pit” along the West Atchafalaya Basin Protection Levee.
The Shoopman Boys went on the other side of the levee the next day, to Miller’s Chute, Ruiz Canal and the Sugar Mill. Despite post-cold front conditions, the bass bit on crank baits and spinnerbaits, mostly.
My brothers love the Atchafalaya Basin with its scenery that takes your breath away. They’ve spent many hours on previous outings fishing in Grevemberg, Rock Pile, Crew Boat Chute, Beau Bayou, Mama’s Pond and Sandy Cove Pit, all places that are impossible or difficult to access this month because of the prolonged low-water conditions.
But they got a highly scenic treat the next day when Mike Sinitiere took Bill in an aluminum bass boat borrowed from Malcolm Crochet of Loreauville (thanks, Malcolm) and Keith rode with me in my 17 1/2-foot aluminum bass boat with the recently rebuilt boat trailer. Sinitiere took us east of the Atchafalaya River to the Bayou Long area, where he and his partner caught dozens of bass on spinnerbaits and soft plastics and we all fed on Bill’s notorious homemade sandwich spread.
The time in the overflow swamp thrilled both brothers, especially Keith, who said he saw more alligators than ever while fishing on this trip. Unlike two years ago, when we broke down on the way to Oak Ridge, there was no mechanical breakdown.
Bill and Keith left a week ago today with three bags of speckled trout filet apiece. They also took more great memories of a special part of the country.
DON SHOOPMAN is outdoors editor of The Daily Iberian.