Editor's Letter - In Her Wake

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Destruction at a marina in Lousiana.
Photo: Eric Cosby

The SWS editorial family stretches well beyond our New York City offices. So if a hurricane takes aim at the U.S., chances are we have regional editors and writers in its path. When Hurricane Katrina took it relatively easy on south Florida &151; passing over the heads of Editors at Large George Poveromo and Bob Stearns &151; we breathed a sigh of relief.

But then the storm system strengthened and barreled toward the Gulf Coast.

Pete Cooper, Jr., our Louisiana Regional Editor, left his house in Buras, just 60 miles southeast of New Orleans, ahead of the storm. Two weeks later, Cooper's house still had four feet of water in it.

| |Capt. scott Avanzino, left, with the first post-Katrina yellowfin. Photo: Chad Pedley| Our Mississippi Regional Editor, Jim Martin, has weathered a number of different hurricanes, including Camille. "Katrina was a different kind of storm," said the Biloxi resident. "It was just so big." Martin's house sustained some damage but nothing compared to Biloxi's waterfront.

Overall, our crew was lucky. Reports from coastal fishing towns trickling in at press time told a tale of devastation. Marinas had vanished, boats had come to rest in inland forests, and marshes and barrier islands were obliterated. The most uplifting news came from Captain Scott Avanzino of Venice, Louisiana.

Before the storm, Avanzino had moved his three boats to hurricane slips far from the coast. Two weeks later, with a combination of luck, pluck and an 18-wheeler, he moved one of his boats to Cocodrie for a charter. On the way offshore, Avanzino dodged the debris Katrina had left in her wake, including floating docks, wrecked boats, numerous trees and one very bloated cow. Three hours after setting out he found a solid tuna bite then limited out on red snapper.

Avanzino won't be back to the rubble of what was once Venice Marina for some time. But the captain told me there are already plans to rebuild it. "It will be better than ever," he said. Until then Avanzino will be running trips from Cocodrie. You can reach him at (404) 446-8556 or www.paradise-outfitters.com.

According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, 63 percent of licensed charter captains were registered in severely affected parishes. In the coming months they and all storm-affected captains will need your support.

David DiBenedetto
Editor
editor@saltwatersportsman.com