But the long and short of it is, we had a
durn good time on my vacation.
There were, of course, a few misadventures
other than not catching many fish. I have become
accustomed to not catching many fish. In my younger
days, I caught fish constantly and abundantly. I
think I caught my lifetime share of fish in the
first 20 years of my existence, and have since
been put on a budget. Of course, that's why they
call it "fishing" and not "catching."
I spent six days in the boat, my cousin Jim and
his son Chris spent three. That's a lot of time
in any boat, particularly with the cost of gasoline
nowadays. Since we roamed far and wide in search of
receptive fish, every morning began with the
requisite fill-up. Standing at the gas pump,
watching the "total sale" number spin and spin and
spin until we all felt queasy and weak in the knees.
OPEC members, in addition to their other character
flaws, are Public Enemy Number 1 to fishermen this
The cousins, living in the Ft. Worth area, have about
a dozen lakes to fish in within reasonable driving
distance, all manmade, and the entire fishing, boating,
jetski, swimming and sailing population converges on
these lakes whenever possible. So trying to fish in
their area, they tell me, is a crowded, demanding
proposition at best. Chris had caught one largemouth,
his only fish in general, before coming to Louisiana.
The first morning in the boat, he commented with
grinning wonder, "I didn't know there was this
much water in the world!" This was only having
seen Lake Fausse Pointe thus far, so there was
a lot more water yet to see, particularly when
we went to the river. The problem was, there seemed
to be a lot of water, but north winds had pushed much
of it out, so it was shallow in lots of places south
of the levee, and up into the trees north of the levee,
neither situation conducive to good fishing.
Then there were those lure-eating trees. I use the
term "lure" to apply to flies or spin tackle, because
between the three of us, we used both. Like clover,
hackberries, crabgrass and red ants, lure-eating
trees have become one of the top pests in Louisiana.
Nature has evolved these trees to exert magnetic
force outward, snatching lures midflight into their
limbs, wherein they twist around 17 branches, six
times each, and the hook lodges into the tree trunk
deeper and more firmly than you could ever hope to
hook a fish.
I was using light tackle, as was Chris, but Jim was
using 25-pound "Spiderwire," a braided fishing line
with which he just pulled down the lure-eating trees
that gobbled up his lures. While Chris and I would say,
"Durnit, I'm in the tree again," Jim would merely yell,
"Timber!" in warning that a massive tupelo was about
to be uprooted by Spiderwire.
We are all, of course, excellent at casting when
there are no lure-eating trees nearby, so please,
do not cast a shadow – pardon the pun – upon our
When not engaged in epic battles of Gilgamish
proportions with lure-eating trees, we were
largely biteless. The front that came through
Monday gave the fish a serious case of lockjaw.
However, I did catch my first two sac-au-lait
in my life, something I have never purposely
fished for until now.
It was difficult to translate, though. A sac-au-lait
in the French is a crappie away from Acadiana. Then,
it can be pronounced "crappie" or "crahppie" depending
on how sensitive you might be to the metaphorical
imagery the word conjures. This perhaps why our
Cajun forebears chose to call them sac-au-lait,
"sack of milk," rather than something rather
At one point, I became desperate enough to turn
to the Internet fishing reports for help. I found
that one particular fellow was catching big fish
in northern Lake Fausse Pointe, so I emailed him
with a desperate plea for help:
"Dear (name withheld to protect the angler):
I got a response giving me the place, and we shot
off there the next morning. However, those north
winds we had talked about had pushed a great deal
of water out of this particular canal, and the
fish were gone with it. So much for the World
"Where are you catching all those monster fish?
Are there any lure-eating trees nearby?
We began scouting various locations, but the
situation was the same everywhere we went. Some
places, the proliferation of lure-eating trees
was so great we cast for half an hour and never
got a lure into the water, so retreated before
we ran into any boat-eating trees as well.
When Saturday afternoon rolled around, and we
were all out in the boat, tired, with aching backs,
knees and egoes, we all just kinda looked at each
other and said, "Okay, I've had enough." So we went
home and retired from fishing for the duration, save
for one trip to a pond which was fairly productive.
All in all, though, it was an excellent vacation.
Chris had a total of eight fish, so he realized an
800 percent advance. I figure that the total number
of fish caught in the week, divided by the number
of lures lost to lure-eating trees, gasoline and
drinks and snacks, cost us about $10 each.
I made a big pot of crawfish stew Sunday, believing
that was the closest we'd get to that fish fry we
were all hoping would happen eventually. I could
have fried the crawfish to make it a little closer,
but figured I'd just aggravate myself.
The Stouffs went home Monday and I came back to work.
I got quite a bit of sun over the week, and folks
were saying, "Wow, you really look like an Indian now!"
So I guess the time spent on the water wasn't a
total waste. However, I am now on a vendetta against
lure-eating trees. I am hoping they have some value
to the lumber industry, or perhaps some other
commercial application. I plan to secure my
retirement as well as rid the world of a dangerous
pest in the process.
First, though, I have to go get a spool of
Spiderwire. ~ Roger