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Subscriber Barney Adams and two of his friends give guide Gregg Arnold’s redfish mothership in Biloxi Marsh, Louisiana, a mixed review after fishing from it this past November. The problem was not bad food, lack of fishing success, or poor logistics. Nor was it bad weather, though that did limit the number of fish they were able to take. The problem was the way the bunks on the mothership were set up. Adams writes: “When our group of four makes a fishing trip, we generally try to fish five days. If we could, we would shorten that time a bit, but we have a near perfect record of bringing bad weather with us, so we add a day or so to all our trips to be sure we get some good fishing. At any rate, after reading about Gregg Arnold’s redfish mothership in Louisiana, I called him and arranged a trip targeting big reds in early November 2013. Our group is comprised of one devout fly fisherman (me), with the rest being spin fishermen and bait casters. We are older (definitely), and we like to fish where we have shots at large fish. We enjoy our evening meal with a glass of wine, stories, and generally going to bed early as befits our ages. Each of us has had major surgery for either cancer or heart-related issues. We are experienced fishermen. All of these minutiae were spelled out to Gregg so he would know about our group. Over the years, each trip has resulted in a written report, with the final copy agreed on by the entire group. Some places we’ve visited, we have returned to over and over; some we have visited only once. I have become our unofficial trip organizer, so I really want things to go well. We understand that the clock is ticking. The trip we planned with Gregg Arnold envisioned the use of his mothership, The Southern Way, embarking in Gulfport, Mississippi, to fish the Chandeleur Islands before working our way back through Biloxi Marsh to end in Hopedale, Louisiana. After more than a dozen trips to the Amazon, our group likes to fish mothership operations. They tend to be comfortable, and they don’t usually involve long, daily rides to the fishing grounds. Unfortunately, the weather was very bad the day we were scheduled to leave Gulfport, which made our planned trip to the Chandeleur Islands impossible. Instead, we ended up in Biloxi Marsh for the entire trip, where we fished a day, lost a day, and then fished a day and a half. Despite the inclement conditions, we all caught a sufficient number of 10- to 15-pound redfish. Louisiana redfish are fun, and they are not leader shy, or shy of anything. If you get your bait in the vicinity, they will investigate. Too bad we didn’t get shots at 30- to 40-pound fish, but we understand weather. Ultimately, our group has a single gauge for a trip – namely, would we come back, ideally signing up for a return trip before we leave? Our guides were Al Keller and Travis Huckabee, and we would fish with them anytime. They were professional and enjoyable company. Food on the mothership was excellent, the staff very accommodating.
Still, the three of us on this trip (a fourth member of our group could not make it) unanimously agreed we would not be coming back. Why? The configuration of the sleeping quarters was just too difficult for us to handle. The problem was a side wall that blocked part of the bunk bed, leaving an opening approximately 40 inches long by 20 inches high to get into bed. The actual sleeping area was a shade more than six feet long, but to stretch out, you had to bend over, push yourself back into the upper left of the sleeping area, and pull your legs inside. The actual sleeping area was acceptable, but getting in and out, especially during the night, was not. My grandkids wouldn’t have batted an eye, but us old geezers will pass on coming back. Gregg’s operation was fine for us except for that problem, which was a return deal-killer as far as we are concerned. Earlier, I mentioned multiple trips to the Amazon and other destinations. We’ve slept in tents, houseboats, and remote camps, and we all rated the sleeping conditions on The Southern Way ‘tied for last.’ Should I have inquired up front about this? Perhaps, but I choose to trust the people I deal with to be completely forthcoming about problems like this. I guess you could argue that it never occurred to Gregg that something like this would be a problem for us. Well, it was, and we would not return or recommend that anyone like us use The Southern Way to fish for what turned out to be a really enjoyable gamefish. I suspect Gregg Arnold will accuse us of overreacting and reference others who would make unqualified recommendations. It’s a free country. Our decision was unanimous and unequivocal.”