Friday, April 23, 2010

A Black Tip Shark on Grand Terre

As we left the marina three least terns took to the air. The smallest North American terns their white undersides and black wedge of the outer primaries made the identification easy. Forester terns flew by, one clutching a minnow newly caught and we enjoyed watching them dive as schools of bait fish were everywhere.
Dolphins played and brown pelicans made their plunge into the sea. its so amazing to see them make a sudden veer and then a headfirst dive. We crossed Batarria pass and Gary drove the boat past oil and gas platforms.
Landing at the east end of Grand Terre we looked for tailing red fish but the schools weren't feeding yet. A single large tail was near shore and I debated if I should cast to it or take a picture. The fisherman in me won over and I made an unsuccessful cast. The red swirled and swam away.
Casting out into the shallow bar on the pass my fresh mullet was quickly picked up by a hard head catfish, and then a sting ray. I cast further out and was looking for sea glass when my pole doubled over, fish on!
Calling to Renita I fought the fish as it made a long run and I thought it must be a red fish, but after the initial run it came in fairly easy and I noticed the distinctive black tipped caudal fin of a black tipped shark.
Being leery of its teeth I held it away from me for pictures before successfully releasing it. It was 44 inches long and my first shark. I later learned that shark season was closed and that the black tipped sharks must be 54 inches, from snout to the fork of the tail so it was a good thing that my discretion overcame my thoughts of grilled shark steaks.
Rain clouds threatened and Renita and Connie returned from their walk, just in time to see Gary fighting a bull red fish. Soon the churning white water told of an approaching school of reds and we both hooked up our first double. As we fought the fish my mullet pole bent over and Connie grabbed the pole, we now had a triple!
Like the day before, the reds keep coming, as school after school of reds worked the shallow bar.
I handed Connie my jig pole and told her to watch and cast for a red fish. Jokingly she told Renita she saw one and dropped the jig next to the shore. You can guess her surprise as a red inhaled the jig and tore off on a typical sustained run for the pass.
Heading back to the marina we talked of the fish and birds and the history of the area. You could almost see the pirate ships replacing shrimp and pogey boats on the horizon. Helicopters flew overhead and one could see oil rigs in the distance as Grand Isle reminded us of its double role of a park like atmosphere opposing the busy oil fields that surround it. Clear skies.

That night the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and the next day the Coast Guard Ship was gone from its mooring. We pray for the men who lost their lives and for their grieving families. The Lord is my shepard. I shall not want, He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters......

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