Born on the banks of Bayou Teche in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, Bryan Champagne grew up fishing and hunting in the swamps of Cypress Island (southwest of Breaux Bridge) and is now conducting tours in it.
The tour departed from the Lake Martin Landing and headed into a flooded forest of Cypress and Topulo trees draped with spanish moss.
Some in the grove of Cypress Trees are 500-plus years old.
The tour left mid-morning and by that time several fishermen had already been out for two or three hours. Bryan greeted several of them by name as we passed by and learned that they had been only moderately successful so far.
Bryan's folksy manner was both entertaining and informative as he talked about his life in the swamp. He answered questions from the dozen passengers and was especially good at responding to the comments and questions of the four kids on board.
He designed and built the 24-foot, all-aluminum crawfish skiff to run in very shallow water (1 to 2 inches deep), through dense mats of floating vegetation that make it impossible for outboard or water-cooled boat motors to run. His 24 horse power engine, called a "mudrunner" motor, is cooled by air, not water.
The tour's pace was slow, so we could take pictures as we traveled through the swamp. At times, we could touch the trees as we passed them.
There is something intriguing about the swamp. However, if viewed in the fog or at night, the swamps's intrigue can turn to mystery, and it can become a bit ominous.
But on this partly sunny day, the swamp seemed welcoming.
However, we had not yet met some of the non-human inhabitants of this unique environ-ment.