Lake Fausse Point, Louisiana

April 19th, 2003

Vacation Boys, Part 2
By Roger Emile Stouff

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 spring.

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 technical abilities.

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 disgusting.

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):
"Where are you catching all those monster fish?
Are there any lure-eating trees nearby?
"Thank you."

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 Wide Waste.

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

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