Outdoor Corner: 2020 1st Quarter State of the Pier Address

Lyle Johnson
Plaquemine Post South

So the State of the Union Address is usually given by the President of the United States in front of a joint session of the United States Congress at the beginning of each calendar year in office. 

The address is done to fulfill the requirement in Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution for the President to "periodically" give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.

Our 1st president, George Washington gave the first regular annual message before a joint session of Congress on January 8, 1790, in New York City. It was then the provisional U.S. capital. A few short years later in 1801, Thomas Jefferson discontinued the practice of delivering the address in person, regarding it as too monarchical (similar to the Speech from the Throne).

Instead, the address was written and then sent to Congress to be read by a clerk until 1913 when Woodrow Wilson re-established the practice despite some initial controversy, and an in-person address to Congress has been delivered nearly every year since.

So a few years back I got the idea to do the same about the fishing from my pier and the surrounding area. It's time to give it again. Although I'm sure most of our presidents gave an upbeat message even when that wasn't the case, I'm not going to sugarcoat this one. Fishing from the pier has been pretty dismal.

For the last three months the catfishing has been spotty to say the least. I have lived on the Diversion for eight years while owning the lot 10 years before we built. In those 18 years I have never gone very long without catching a few catfish, and when times are good the numbers have been incredible.

I would go for days without getting a bite, then catch a few. That scenario repeated itself over and over. I had plenty to eat but I've been used to having such a surplus that others would be blessed with catfish as well.

I know this will come to an end sooner or later as the spawning ritual will be taking place soon and that means the catfish will come up the river to fill their bellies with fat to endure the effort to lay and fertilize all those eggs.

I'd been using shad and night crawlers for bait, but last Sunday I went to the ditches to see if the crawfish had left their underground haunts to begin their efforts in bringing new life to the world as well.

Our weather has been way too warm for winter so I was pretty sure there would be a few out already. My hunch paid off, and with a little effort my bucket returned home with enough crawfish to last for a few days.

Not all was lost from the pier as the sac-a-lait did their usual run this fall and winter, and I caught some from the pier. There are plenty caught in the Diversion everywhere in the cool months.

Now on the other side of the house which is called the swamp side, things are a little better. The deer population is very healthy. I know because I've been feeding some of them with corn. I have a stand on my property hoping to get a shot at one, but all I've accomplished is getting them a little fatter. And that's ok.

Our pair of eagles that nest between Flat Lake and Lake Martin have returned so it's a pleasure to see them flying down the canal in search of a meal. But the thing that has me the most excited is that the wild turkeys are back.

When we first moved here, there was a very healthy population of turkeys. One morning while going outside, two hens with eleven juveniles walked across my driveway in search for some food. It was not uncommon to see four or five gobblers together feeding along the road.

They began to disappear slowly, and for around four or five years I didn't see a turkey. Maybe it was coyotes or maybe it was disease, but they were gone. Lately I've seen three or four hens feeding on a regular basis. This week I saw the first gobbler so they are making a comeback.

Fishing in the Amite/Blind River basin has been nothing short of great. We went another year without a storm or hurricane to affect the populations, so 2020 ought to be a banner year for fishing.

Last year was really good for all the species. The bass population has increased every year since our last storm so this summer should be even better that last year. Like I said a little earlier, the weather has been a little warm so the spawn could well be happening as some really big females have been caught the last couple of weeks.

Fall and early winter in 2019 was one of the best for catching sac-a-lait we've had in a while, and it's continuing into 2020. This time of the year as they ready themselves to spawn, catching them on jigs is the way to go. Shiners work this time of the year, but artificials work really well.

Just so you know we'll never figure out the fish. I've caught six catfish in the time I started this column on late Sunday afternoon until I finished writing it at 4:30 a.m. on Monday morning.

I've agonized in my mind why and where the catfish just quit biting for so long of a time. You'd think I'd be happy that they are biting but now I'm wondering if it is the crawfish I'm fishing with or is it the fish just showed up?

In over 60 years of fishing, I often ask myself why and how, but I never get a good answer. If I had it, we would call it catching instead of fishing. So until next time, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Be safe in the outdoors and may God truly bless you!!

Lyle Johnson is a free-lance writer, co-host of Ascension Outdoors TV and Curator of the Louisiana State Fish Records. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net.

Outdoor Calendar

EASL Monthly Meeting:3rd Monday every month, East Ascension Sportsman's League meeting held at Gonzales Fire Dept on Orice Roth Rd. starting at 7:00 p.m. A meal served and special speaker will be in attendance.

Squirrel, Quail & Rabbit Season: Through-Feb. 29, open statewide on private lands only. Daily bag limit 8 and possession limit 24.

Duck Seasons: Through Jan. 26, East Waterfowl Zone. Dec. 21-Jan. 19, Coastal Waterfowl Zone. 21-Jan. 26, West Waterfowl Zone.

Fishing for Tucker Bass Classic: Feb 1 held out of Doiron's Landing in Stephensville. Entry fee $100 per two angler team. $2000 first place payout based on 100 boats. All info on www.fishingfortucker.com or call Ryan Lavigne 225-921-9332.

Anything Outdoors/St Jude Bass Classic: March 28—save the date. New, bigger and better.

Need an event publicized? Contact Lyle at reelman@eatel.net