The Fish Market - Louisiana
Price per pound - $12.50
Fish - 20-45lbs
Attributes - Unstoppable, fast, instinctual
Difficulty - 7/10
With regards to adventure travel, there is always an elephant in the room. A giant disparity that might keep some angler out of the hunt, or so it might seem. What does it cost to catch the fish of your dreams and do you need a lodge or guide to do it?
In this month’s edition of the fish market, we’re in Louisiana. There is, a house, in New Orleans……and there are also some huge f***** jacks!
Price Per Pound
Here are just a few round-trip options to MSY: $85 FLL, $99 from ATL, and $121 BWI. New Orleans is a tourist hub and it wants your business. With cheap flights, heavy pours, and Tipitina's free music Fridays you’re destined for a good time regardless of the bite.
Once you land, you’ll Uber to mid-city. Airbnbs here range from $49-$105, with the average right around $60 a night. Split this 2 ways and you might even make money on the deal. This quiet, safe, neighborhood, is littered with cool, quirky bars and is just a short walk from Bayou St. John, a man-made canal home to Mayan cichlids, carp, gator gar, and the occasional redfish. It's worth a few casts, but even as an avid angler, your best memories are waiting for you at the breweries that line her shores. If someone says “Where Y’at?” please don’t respond with your location - they know where you are, this is a greeting. I usually just start talking about The Saints.
Nola is known for its cuisine. A cheap $8 Po Boy can fill you up if ordered properly. The city also has a fair amount of crime. Order a sandwich without mayo or debris and you will certainly experience southern violence. Always debris, always mayo - can’t change the city.
Fly Fishing Math
$50 a day X 3 Days = $150
Flight = $100
Total = $250
We’re chasing Jack Crevalle. These muscle-ridden monsters take personal offense to fully curated Seychelles expeditions. Hook one and you can feel their frustration. I feel it to. They’re underrepresented, unruly, and determined to destroy most of your equipment.
The attitude that landed them on the fish market docket, is the same one that will break your fly line. Captain Ty Hibbs, your fearless leader on this adventure will tell you, “Companies send me rods to see where they break.” The fly lines overflowing from the community ramp cans are all his, and there are more every day.
Back to Ty. Ty grew up on the lake and pioneered this fishery. You don’t want to fish with anyone else. He has secret spots, tactics, and a personal vendetta to catch every jack that flows into lake P each summer. He’s going to put you on one and you’re probably going to blow it. His day rate for summer jacks is $500. Name drop (me) and you’ll owe him another $100.
You want at least a 10, ideally a 12 wt. Ty recommends nothing less than straight 80 or 100lb leader. Stopping power is critical here; the first 15 seconds of the fight will determine your Instagram post. Keep one out of the bottom structure, breaking their spirit early on, and you’ll have a beautiful picture courtesy of Captain Hibbs (also a photographer/videographer), holding a magnificent meatball of a mullet killer. Let the fish dominate you and the only picture you’ll have from NOLA is that of a half-naked man at Snake and Jake’s Christmas lounge, time-stamped at 2:56 AM.
Point your rod at the fish and show no mercy. If he gets to the reef he’s breaking everything, consider the line a complete loss from the start and you’ll be mentally prepared for the cage match to come. Once out of the reef you can take your time. The “reef” I keep referencing isn’t constructed of coral or a thriving natural bottom, you’re in New Orleans. The reef is composed of old bridge pilings, rebar, and maybe a mid 90’s Pontiac. Whatever’s down there it's sure to break your line and hold a fish born irritable and indignant. Stop the fish.
Ty will throw a big hook-less popper. After years of tormenting jacks, this teaser looks like a wooden salt shaker - bare to the bone. However, it still pops and raises fish. As Ty casts and chugs, be ready with the biggest fly you can get your hands on. When the jacks come up, put the fly in front of the popper and wait till it passes over your line. Right as this happens, strip as fast as you can.
Set the hook and follow the steps above. Stop the fish; catch the fish.
In the 2 days we were there I managed to boat a 40lber; this is the fish used in the price index below. While this may not be the cheapest fish, a trip to New Orleans should be on your radar. If you’re there in the summer, I certainly recommend booking an afternoon with Ty.
Fly Fishing Math
$500/40 = $12.5 per pound.
If you think you can swing this, here is some gear you’ll want to consider packing.