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After finishing first in the fly division of the BCKFC/Massey’s CPR kayak fishing tourney last year I have been brainstorming ways to spend the store credit I was awarded. Without actually going to the main store in New Orleans and seeing what I could walk out with this was proving fruitless. So one rainy Sunday in late June I trekked my way to New Orleans to do a bit of shopping. The first stop though was to City Park to try and catch a Rio Grande cichlid. It had been quite some time since I last targeted them so I was a bit rough around the edges.

A distant waterspout is a sure sign of good luck, right?

I started off near the New Orleans Museum of Art and didn’t venture too far from there as I was on fish from the start. They weren’t the target species, but I was catching a LOT of bluegill, as they got bigger things got more exciting.

Fishing a popper/dropper I got into a few coppernose hammers. They were manhole covers compared to their native cousins. I caught a couple other species too, but no Rios, so I started to walk around and check out some other spots.

Eventually I did find a Rio cruising the shallows and after a well placed cast and a casual eat I had my target fish to hand. Man, these things are pretty!

At this point I needed to make my way to Massey’s before they closed. I found a few things I’d had my eye on but never wanted to spend my own money on, I walked out feeling like I robbed the place. Store credit might be the greatest thing I’ve ever won in a kayak tournament! Let me expand on that a bit and make my case below.

Big kayak tournaments typically give a kayak to the winner, sometimes awarding kayaks to the top three places. That all makes sense. It’s a big prize, has a bit of a wow factor for the crowd, but does it make that much sense? Let’s be honest, the winners of kayak tournaments already own kayaks. They likely own really nice kayaks or they paddle for one brand or another, meaning they likely HAVE to use that particular brand kayak. So what happens to the kayaks they win? Well, they hit craigslist or Facebook marketplace and get sold the next week for cold, hard cash. It’s a bad look for the local clubs and I fail to see what it does to help the local shops that sponsor these events, outside of the pub they get at the awards ceremony.

Now, I don’t know that store credit helps the shops either, that would probably depend on what gets bought as the margins are different for different items. But as someone who has won kayaks in the past, this was a very welcome change as it gave me an opportunity to upgrade some of my other gear and purchase merch I’ve been gun-shy to buy in the past. Shoot, I’ve been pedaling the same bike for the last 20 years, but not anymore, and I still have credit remaining too!

I don’t want to sound like I’m being picky, as I will always be happy and appreciative of anything I’m awarded for placing in a tournament, but I can definitely get behind store credit taking over as the main draw. Big thanks to Massey’s for continuing to sponsor the BCKFC CPR tournament, the fly division is always one I enjoy competing in.

I had to work on the “Best Bank” earlier this Fall and found myself with a little time to kill not too far away from the Jean Lafitte NHP.  I decided to check it out and get a bit of exercise walking some of the trails.  Jean Lafitte seems like one of those places that gets forgotten about alongside all the other attractions New Orleans has to offer, I know that I’ve driven past it a few times without even thinking twice about stopping.  I’m glad I finally gave it a go because I really enjoyed my walk in the swamp.  The park boasts an incredible amount of boardwalk that winds it’s way into the Northern  Barataria estuary – the swamp was beautiful and the critters were plentiful, but I couldn’t get over the fact that I walked a few miles on boardwalk, someone had to put all that together!

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In the past few years I have really grown to appreciate a good beer.  It is no coincidence that the rest of the US seems to feel the same way, as craft brewing in America is bigger than it has ever been.  These are exciting times for beer geeks, a little overwhelming at times, but exciting.  For once Louisiana is not being left behind either.  Several new breweries have come online in the past few years and, as a state, we’re slowly building quite a catalog of craft breweries.  I’m proud to say that my cousin Lindsay is now officially in that number.  Lindsay and her husband Scott have talked about opening up a brewery in New Orleans for a few years now and just recently they accomplished that goal with the grand opening of the Courtyard Brewery.  I happened to be working in the New Orleans area that week and was able to stop by to check the place out and grab a couple pints of deliciousness.

Their first day open was also the first day they were allowed to start brewing so they didn’t have any of their own beers available (not sure if that has changed yet, but I think a session IPA was going to be their first offer), but that really didn’t slow them down.  They operate a little differently than you’re standard brewery and offer 12 rotating guest taps with only top shelf craft brews.  They are fans of West Coast style beers so Lagunitas, Green Flash, New Belgium, Stone and North Coast were all represented.  The one local option that made the cut was the Korova Milk Porter from Gnarly Barley, and it was obvious why as it was damn good.  In fact I’m pretty sure it was the first to keg to tap out on the night.

The brewery itself is small, so small it is being dubbed a nano-brewery.  Their brewing equipment is slightly larger than what you would have at home, so don’t expect to find any of Courtyard’s beers at your local grocer.  Because of it’s size don’t expect a big brewery tour either – if you’ve taken one brewery tour though you know the process – beer is made the same everywhere, with the same 4 ingredients – water, yeast, malt and hops. The brewery felt more like a tasting room and I’m pretty sure that is the vibe they are putting out there.  I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the tap list was superb, I left just as the food truck started serving, but I’m pretty sure they will be doing that as much as possible.  All of the beers offered were $5-6 for a heavy 16 oz pour, a heck of a deal, so if you’re looking for a good place in New Orleans to get good beer at a good price, go check out Courtyard at 1020 Erato St.

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