When my father-in-law was alive and my children were small, we often got up at 5:00 a.m., packed up a breakfast of fried egg sandwiches and a lunch of crispy fried chicken, both made by my father-in-law, the best cook in the world, then headed for the Ouachita River close to El Dorado, Arkansas. I remember different places that we fished, Mary Saline, Grand Mary, Pete Wilson, etc. Lloyd, my father-in-law, didn't fish a lot himself, but loved baiting hooks and watching the children and even me catch fish. And the best thing was: He knew where to find the fish. As he used to say, "I think it's about time to drop a line."
My husband and I have fished in a very small boat the last couple of years on our trips to the cabin in Arkansas. We used a trolling motor and had a great time, but we were limited in where we could fish as we didn't have the power needed to venture far. And we certainly couldn't have fished anywhere here, near New Orleans, in the small boat. So we bought a boat. It's a nice fishing boat and though I wouldn't feel safe out in the Gulf, it's a bay boat and fine for the bays around the Gulf area.
General McArthur Entering the Phillipines
We have taken the boat out twice, although we've had it for a month. In New Orleans and surrounding areas, the wind is a huge factor and neither of us wants to be caught in bad weather or high wind. We went out on Lake Pontchartrain once, not to fish but just to go out and get accustomed to the boat, break in the engine, etc. Joe did fabulously, just a few little kinks figuring out the backing up part. All things considered, he was marvelous. The wind was up a bit but it was okay. The Coast Guard stopped almost everyone around us but left us alone. We didn't have numbers on the boat and I'm sure they figured out it was new and we were just breaking it in. They sent several boats back to shore for whatever reason, so we were relieved, although we had all the papers we needed to be legal. We turned off the motor a good ways out and just let the boat drift while we ate the sandwiches we brought for lunch. I made a photo of Joe with a serious look on his face and my friend said he looked like McArthur entering the Philippines!
From the Boat in Ruddock
Yesterday we went out to a site where we often see people fishing near Ruddock along Interstate 55. We took all sorts of tackle and rods and changed from fishing with a cork and a worm, to fishing with jigs for crappie, to casting for bass. I love bass fishing and loved sitting up on the seat so high and being able to cast so much more easily than in the tiny boat we used before. I got what I thought was a strike -- one. Other than that, we didn't catch a thing and no one we spoke to there did either. But oh, what a glorious day to be outdoors in the sunshine with the wind blowing. We were circled over and over by a huge bald eagle. It never came close enough for my camera to capture its white head, but it was there. Two men have built a small fishing hut on the edge of the swamp. They are braver than I am, having seen so many water moccasins and alligators in my day, but hey, it's Louisiana. They waved at us from their porch as we went by.
Cloud Rainbow by the Water
We drove down to Jean Lafitte last Wednesday and ate lunch. Joe is going out down there with a friend next weekend to learn where to fish in the saltwater for trout, red fish, etc. We are still learning and I'm sure it will take many trips until we know exactly where to go and how to fish, but what fun. We are planning a trip to Arkansas in May and will very likely go back to the river where we fished with Lloyd, Joe's dad, some 40 years ago. My dad also loved to fish and I went with him many times too. It's a wonderful, entertaining thing to do. It's one of those things where you just never know what might happen, what might come up, flipping and flopping out of the water. And besides, it takes us outside into the wind and sun and we're surrounded by trees and beautiful scenery. What more could one ask of a pastime?
Blue Bird Sky
Since I wrote this in the early spring, we have taken the boat out at least 20 times and become more comfortable with the weather, loading and unloading, etc. I noted that I spoke of never knowing what you might pull out of the water; along those lines, on our last trip to Lafitte, I caught a flounder! It was such a weird looking fish! I also caught a 6-pound red that gave me quite a fight. The trip before, we had alligator problems. The alligators were fascinated with our corks and stayed with us, chasing our corks each time we threw a line out. Not good, because, of course, no fish are going to come around when gators are around. The boat has been a wonderful thing. We've fished during three different trips when we were at the cabin in Arkansas and had great fun going to Pete Wilson, where we used to fish with Joe's dad. There is definitely something healing about being outdoors in the elements and for now, we are loving our boat.
Sunrise on the Water in Lafitte
Postscript No. 2
Here it is, spring again. Tomorrow will be our first fishing trip here this year. We have gone three or four times in Arkansas but not here. We are going to the Pen tomorrow in Barataria, Jean Lafitte. I'm hoping to catch the biggest red fish ever or maybe another flounder. Can't wait to be out on the water again.