Paying it Back-- Romanian Style
By Chris Holmes
The Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club held its 10th Annual Fall N’ Tide kayak fishing rodeo the weekend of Nov. 14-15 in Venice, Louisiana. It was no surprise that there were participants from across the Gulf Coast. However, one of the 138 anglers traveled a little farther--all the way from Romania, a coastal country on the Black Sea. Not only did he travel the farthest, Romania’s Fernando Mihailescu walked away with top honors.
Mihailescu was in Louisiana fishing with long-time friend, Vlad Moldoveanu. Vlad, also from Romania, has lived in Mobile, Alabama for several years and is himself no stranger to the winners' podium at BCKFC tournaments. His buddy, Fernando, came to visit and spend some time kayak fishing in coastal Louisiana. They spent a couple of days in Grand Isle and then moved over to Venice for more fishing and to participate in the kayak tournament.
Saturday morning brought typical BCKFC tournament weather: a cold front with winds pushing 30 miles per hour and water levels dropping by the minute. The conditions were roundly described as "brutal."
Top prizes in these events go to those who land the heaviest "Cajun Slam" consisting of a spotted sea trout, slot-sized redfish and the ever-elusive flounder. Only 11 flounder made it to the scales for weigh-in. Francisco had one of them, along with a trout and a red. The visitor was only one of three anglers who caught slams.
While out of his element and far from his home waters, Mihailescu is a highly-accomplished fisherman. He is a former European World Champion fly fisher representing Romania. He's fished once before in a kayak, but had never been in a Hobie--now he owns one. His Fall N’ Tide X Champion prize was a 2015 Hobie ProAngler 14. He wasn't able to take it back home with him on the plane, but may look into having it shipped in lieu of selling it.
An unexpected story was told at the awards presentation, when fellow Romanian Moldoveanu took the mic.
"You always hear people saying to 'take a kid fishing.' About 15 to 20 years ago, Fernando would take me fishing and camping in Romania because my father had no interest in it,” said Moldoveanu. “He taught me how to fish and here we are many years later fishing in America. I owe him a lot and am so proud that he won this tournament."
Moldoveanu paid his friend back handsomely, since when it came to Gulf Coast fishing the student was now the teacher.
"Vlad told me to fish here, like that to catch a redfish. Fish there like that to catch a trout," Mihailescu said. He noted Moldoveanu also stressed how important it was to find a flounder. "Vlad told me where to go, and to fish like I was fishing for a zander (similar to a walleye). I spent five hours trying to get one and finally got a keeper on a pink Gulp!."
Mihailescu was overwhelmed with the hospitality he received.
"Everybody gave me something. I had a borrowed kayak, got Gulp!s from one and an anchor from another. Everyone was so nice," acknowledged the champion in his broken English.
Fernando Mihailescu is perfectly fluent in fishing.