View Full Version : Trip Report – Port Mansfield Cast & Blast

Team Jefe
02-18-2010, 05:05 PM
January reports are a rarity for Team Jefe. At best we make a few snapper trips in state waters and though fun times; they don’t lend much entertainment value for a report. But January 2010 is not your typical January. Jan-2010 is the start of “Year 10” for me and lots of things are going to be different. Not only have I gotten to go on a late season deer hunting trip with my oldest friend Capt. Dwayne Green; one of my hero’s decided to get in the mix early this year and start things off with a bang….literally.

Which hero you ask? Well it’s the one who joins me on most of these crazy adventures… Mr. Dan Franz.

I was at work on the 12th when I got an email from Danny asking if I was interested in going to Mansfield for a cast and blast that weekend. HELL YES and I proceeded to square away a bunch of stuff to make room for the trip. All that done, I was packed and headed south by 0800 on the 14th. The weather on the trip down suuuucked, but I had a smile on my face from ear to ear thinking about spending some quality time on the water with one of the finest human beings I know.

Dan and his crew were several hours ahead of me, having left Houma the night before, and were rolling slowly that morning. Speaking of the crew, let’s take a look at them. The guy who started this adventure is Tony Beaubouef. This trip is an annual event for Tony and he sold Dan on making the 12 hour drive from Houma. Tony is with Cameron Berwick and works for a few guys who used to do work for me….but I tried not to hold that against him. Dan and Tony were joined by Tony’s boys Bryce and Brad…..

Let me digress here for a bit. When I met these boys they stood up and shook my hand, introduced themselves and addressed me with manners and respect. They exhibited those manners throughout the entire weekend and not once showed their ass, back-talked or any of the things kids these days tend to do. I was VERY impressed by their actions and the way they conducted themselves. Tony, you should be proud of them; but let’s not give it all away yet……OK back to the report.

Our benefactor for the trip was Tony’s uncle Miller Bassler….and one could not ask for a finer host. Miller welcomed us into his home with open arms and treated us like family. A self-made successful business man, he has a beautiful place on the water with everything anyone could ask of a fishing camp. I hope to be as fortunate one day. Rounding out the crew was pro-guide Rene Hinojosa. After fishing and hunting with Rene, he gets High Marks. Personable, smart, knowledgeable, and easy to get along with, Rene had us on game every trip and was tireless in his efforts to make the trip successful.

I met the crew at “El Jefe’s Marina and Cantina”…..guess I know where I’m gonna retire… where they were eating a late lunch. We did our introductions and quickly got ready to head out for the evening fishing trip on Laguna Madre. For those not familiar with the South Texas Coastline, Laguna Madre is a shallow body of saltwater created by the Mainland coast and Padre Island which make it an excellent area for Specs and Reds….and Duck Hunting. And, when I say shallow, I mean really shallow; this place is the epitome of “Skinny Water”. We took off from Miller’s house around 1500 headed to a spot just south of Mansfield. Miller and the boys were in his boat. Dan, Tony and I were with Rene. The boat ride was pretty neat, I had never been in a Shallow Sport before…with the rub-rail right on the water, it was pretty cool. We quickly got to the spot, pulled out the rods and jumped out to wade for Reds. Dumbass me, I didn’t realize we were in 18” of water. I sat down on the side of the boat and eased off into the water…and I could have just stepped off the side with no problems. Oh well, this trip was all about new experiences. As we moved off, casting, my lack of wade fishing lately really started to show. I had trouble casting and my legs started burning right away as I walked through the mud. ****, I need to do more skinny water fishing; I’m getting spoiled with this offshore stuff.

Nonetheless I persevered and refused to show any weakness….I did that once before and am still paying for it….OK, I won’t dwell on that. The fishing was great, but the day was overcast so catching was slow. We picked at a few Reds and even landed a few even though they were very reluctant to take any bait. As the afternoon progressed the weather turned worse and we started see hundreds of ducks…flying right over us. Tony and the boys were loosing their minds. These guys are serious duck hunters and quickly lost all interest in fishing watching all the ducks move around. That coupled with the deteriorating weather and slow bite caused us to cut our fishing short and head back to camp.

Back at camp, Rene quickly cleaned the fish and took off for home. Miller started preparing the evenings meal and the rest of us just relaxed and enjoyed the evening. We ate like kings that evening, bull****tin’, swapping lies, and enjoying the company of a fine crew. Not long we were all ready for bed, it had been a long day for me and we had a few early mornings ahead of us.

Friday morning came very quickly. For me this was to be my first duck hunt in over twenty years, and my first ever hunting open water in a blind. Dan and I went with Miller, Tony and the boys were with Rene. We had seen a crew knocking down a few birds on a small island Thursday afternoon as we were fishing. So, Rene took his crew to that island for the morning hunt. Miller, Dan and I took the boat over to Rene’s blind in the open water of the Laguna. We were about a mile away from the others and could see them setting out their decoys. Dan and I jumped in the water and went about doing the same. Miller busied himself with camouflaging the boat and Stud, Miller’s retriever, was getting antsier all the time.

We finally got everything set and in the blind. We saw hundreds, maybe thousands of birds, but they were either flying far away or sitting on the water. As for me, I was just hunkered down and taking Dan’s lead. It had been way too long for me to be able to identify birds on the wing, and I only had a vague idea of limits for each species. Still I was happy to be on the team and enjoyed every minute. There was lots of activity but few birds came into gun range, and they were coming from all sides. Many times our decoy spread was dive bombed by 2-3 birds and they always seemed to come from the direction none of us were looking. Still we knocked down a few Redheads and Pintails; well Dan and Miller did. I did a lot of shooting, but just flew safely away. Most of the birds we knocked down had to be shot again on the water…some of them, more than once….a few, SEVERAL times…and there was this one…that…just…wouldn’t…die! Miller and Stud did the retrieving…all in all the morning hunt was nice. Around mid-morning, there were several large groups of birds on the water to our west and seemed to be swimming towards our decoy spread. It was a strange feeling seeing and hearing all these ducks just swimming over. Plus we didn’t know whether to shot at them on the water to scare them up or just wait. Eventually, Danny and Miller decided to take a shot at them on the water and then get them on the wing as they took off. We each lined up a shot and each got one on the water. As they took off Dan and Miller got another one…..I missed. Turned out they were coots (pouldeau for my Cajun friends).

The rest of our crew did well too. Frankly, with all the commotion at camp when we got back I have lost count of the actual number of birds, let’s just say it was a good mess of pintails and redheads along with the coots we shot. We had gotten back to camp around noon, cleaned birds and boats, got out of all out hunting gear, and again enjoyed a fine meal courtesy of Mr. Miller. After lunch it was Nap time for Jefe and I crashed for a few hours as did Dan and most everyone else.

Around 1400 we were roused by Miller and Rene to get ready for the evening hunt. The crews stayed the same as the morning and we went back to our same spots. The evening hunt was even better that the morning….as Rene predicted it would be. I even knocked down a bird or two with Dan and Miller taking down the lion’s share of the quarry. Stud was in the thick of it retrieving and so the afternoon went into evening. The other crew was doing excellent as well. Pintails and Redheads had little chance in getting by these boys, with Brad even taking his first duck on that hunt. Way to go big’un its all downhill from here. We headed back around 1730 and repeated the process of cleaning ducks and boats. I even got in on the duck cleaning that evening with Tony and I working a “disassembly” line breast out the birds.

While Tony and I worked, Rene took off to head home for the night; Miller and Dan got started on supper. The birds done and me having showered, we sat down to another wonderful meal and relaxing evening at an awesome camp. It wasn’t long before my eyes got heavy and I called it a night. I’m not really sure when everyone else hit the sack, because about 3 minutes after I fell asleep, the alarm was going off waking us up for the morning hunt.

Saturday morning we were up and ready to go by 0600. The teams got mixed up a bit, but we were all going to hunt the same spot today so Dan and I went with Rene; while Tony and the boys went with Miller. We were headed to a mangrove marsh a few miles from our spot on Friday. Rene described it a highway lane where ducks are funneled between marsh water sources. We got there and set up the decoys in a line about 50 ft offshore. Then we lined up on the bank camo’d behind the scrub bushes on the island and waited for them to fly right by. We didn’t wait long and the birds started coming right in on top of us.

Mostly they were pintails, with a few other species in the mix. We also go lots of coots, but luckily Tony and Bryce were good at pointing them out so we could avoid shooting them. Redheads were few and far between, but there were several green-winged teal mixed in with the pintails, so we had a good hunt that morning. Stud and Rene’s golden lab, Molly did a great job of retrieving. Mainly, I did a lot of shooting to…um….herd up the birds…..for everyone to shoot…..even the boys….yeah, that’s it; because me just being a poor shot really doesn’t sound all that good….and its my story. We even has an escapee make a jail break. One bird Bryce or Tony has taken, was not quite dead yet and made a run for it after Stud had retrieved it. Bryce was having none of that; he spun and nailed it on the run like it was nothing. After that morning hunt, we left the decoys out and headed back to camp to clean birds, get some lunch and take a nap.

We went back out that evening and Rene told us this was going to be the best hunt yet…..and the man does not disappoint. That morning, I had sat with Rene, but for the evening, he moved to the other side of the cut on the island, and we have birds getting funneled in from all over. From Rene’s spot he was getting the stragglers who veered off from us, and was deadeye. Those poor birds that came our way were just as doomed. Danny was as lethal as ever and Miller held his own just fine. But, it was the Beaubouefs were outright slaughtering the ducks. It really wasn’t fair, they were killing and retrieving and working the dogs and talking **** and doing everything else too. Bryce knocked down pintail that went under when Stud got to it….and swam all the way to the bank underwater. Luckily, Rene saw it come up on the bank and got it….sneaky little buggers.

Here is the part of the story I swore I’d leave out….but can’t. Tony Beaubouef – Duck Slayer. For coming to the game so late in life, this man can shoot. I was impressed that afternoon when he made a double (two birds with one shot)…..but he one upped that a little while later. Yep, A Triple….I could hardly believe it, and this after I had just unloaded 3 shots into that flight without taken any birds….and this dude gets 3-for-1…it just ain’t fair.

Not long after the “Duck Hunting Trick Shot Show, Staring Tony B” was over we decided to call it a day a bit early. The Saints were playing the NFC championship Game that night and we all wanted to get back in time to see the game. So, we collected the decoys, headed back, cleaned birds and boats, put up all the equipment for the year (this was Miller’s last hunt of the season), and got supper going just as the game started….and we now know that game ended a few weeks later with NOLA’s first Super Bowl win…WHO DAT!!!

I had to pull the plug early Sunday morning and get back to Dickinson, so I was on my way by 0500 while everyone else slept in a bit. I can not express my gratitude for being included with this fine crew, all top-shelf sportsmen. I had a wonderful time and hope to be invited back….I need to work on my shooting before that though.

Danny, what can I say that hasn’t already been said, it is always my honor to be in your company…thank you, though that seems to not be enough said in my mind. Tony, Excellent hunter and human, I enjoyed every minute of our time together and look forward to the next time. Bryce & Brad, you boys give me hope for the future. I thought all kids were mindless idiots and y’all are just the opposite of that. Stay that way, it will benefit you in later life more than you know…..of course you’ve probably got no choice with your dad. Rene, thank you so much for helping the blithering novice, and helping me stay in the game. Mr. Miller, your hospitality is second to none, you welcomed us into your home with open arms and bent-over backwards to make the experience enjoyable. I only hope I can repay that hospitality at some point. You sir, and all of you, welcome to crew on Jefe’s Revenge anytime.

Until our next Adventure…..

Barry Eller
02-21-2010, 11:33 AM
Did you copy and paste that from "Field And Stream"?:kingme: Sounds like a good time!

02-21-2010, 12:16 PM
I have made that trip many times and I have only been skunked, well, slow on the hits one time. I am also surprised about the bottom conditions you described. Must have been near the channel it is pretty soft there.

Usually it is a sandy/soft mix. I know about the legs burning. We always leap frogged the boat. One group would get let out and the rest would take off and anchor a long way away. We would work our way to the boat load up and go looking for the specs on the water that left the boat behind.

Those guys are hard core. I took awhile for me to get used to being abandoned in the middle of nowhere in skinny water and the only sound you hear is the wind. Nothing but me my gear and a couple of buddies spread way apart! I had a big ray glide past me once and scared the chit out of me.

Done the cast and blast as well but we were on the white wing in the sunflower fields. Nice to be dry for awhile.

Team Jefe
02-22-2010, 04:05 PM
Thanks Guys, Don't think I'm ready for F&S Barry:lookaroun:

Barry Eller
02-24-2010, 06:10 PM
Thanks Guys, Don't think I'm ready for F&S Barry:lookaroun:
I don't know...that is damn good writing my friend:wink: