Outdoor Corner: The Pull

Lyle Johnson

I am working on a shutdown right now. Time is short, so I’ve pulled an article out of the archives written in 2005 that’s just as true and real as it was back then. Enjoy!

Hurricane Rita brought something a little different than Katrina in the way of rain to our area. We have been spared for the most part in the past three weeks or so, once to our east, then to the west. It’s been an unbelievable time.

In this ice chest is a four-person limit of Sac-a-lait for Kathy and Max Brown and Mike and Paula Gebhart. The group was fishing at Toledo Bend and caught them on shiners.

More of our hunting and fishing areas have been hammered, and it’s hard to have anything else but hurricanes on the mind. By the time this column comes out, we may have another tropical wave in the gulf that could become a hurricane.

But today I left work and headed down to my lot on the Diversion Canal. The storm surge from Rita had pushed more water our way than Katrina, and the rain came with it, so some flooding took place. That meant there would be water over the pier and plenty of silt to clean off.

Sure enough, the water had come up about 8 feet over the pier and six feet up on the grass. It had crested the day before and dropped a few inches, so I could do some cleaning. The water was still over the pier but shallow enough for me to take a broom and start removing the half inch of silt that had been deposited from the muddy water.

As I pushed the silt toward the end of the pier, I watched it get caught in the current and head downriver towards to Blind River. As I watched it swirling in circles, I thought about where it might end up. The next body of water it would reach after Blind River would be Lake Maurepas. Next comes Ponchatrain, then the Rigolets and then the Gulf of Mexico.

Would a little of it make all the way to the Gulf? Probably not, but it did get me to thinking about something. I remember as a kid one day I figured you could travel anywhere in the world from Bayou Francois, right in the middle of the town of Gonzales, as we pulled bluegills from the water. The “Pull” began very early in my life.

Grayson Hooks with his first squirrel killed by himself, with his 20 gauge shotgun. He was hunting on private land in Krotz Springs with his paw paw, Tommy.

I never dreamed that one day I would be fishing in that Gulf of Mexico, or the “Pull” that fishing, hunting and the outdoors would have on my life. Duck hunting, shrimping, picking oysters from the water bottoms, trolling for blue marlin and catching tuna, wahoo, king mackerel and bull dolphin.

There would be surf fishing, crabbing, catching specs and reds. Bottom fishing around the rigs and catching 4-pound croakers and white trout, red and mangrove snapper along with many other species.

Back upstream the “Pull” is no different in my favorite fishing spot, the Amite River. Bass, bream and sac-a-lait caught with my dad from my youth until he left for a better place. Fishing with trot lines and with rod and reel for catfish, bringing them home for mama to cook.

There would be squirrel and rabbit hunting, along with occasional deer hunting trips. Then teaching my son the same love for the outdoors, and his mama frying the fish we caught and cooking the game we killed. The “Pull” has been around since the beginning of time.

Isn’t it ironic that the very thing that makes the place we live so appealing to us and has the same pull on millions of other sportsmen is the thing that attracts the forces of nature that bring death and destruction to humans and wildlife alike. Every generation experiences those storms that comes through and wreak havoc on our lives in many ways.

For a few years, the talk still keeps the memories fresh in our minds. This time it will probably last longer than other times, but eventually it will begin to fade for some. Some will pass away and new people will take their place, and the pull of what makes our state the “Sportsman’s Paradise” will rise again.

The boat launches and bait shops will be open again, people will be fishing, hunting and enjoying nature in general. New camps will be built, kids and grandkids will be running around and even playing on the beaches that will be rebuilt.

This part is new; we’ve had plenty of life’s “storms” since then and we had plenty of them before. I was 12 years old when Hurricane Betsy passed through Gonzales. Because of the scale of the devastation caused by Hurricane Betsy, the name was retired from the tropical cyclone naming list.

It's funny the way memories work as a kid. I remember the adults saying how bad it was. Our family of 10 left our house to stay with our Uncle Pete Bourque. He was the Town Marshall back then.

I don’t remember how long it lasted, but Gonzales was without water and electricity. Our family went to our camp on Chinquapin Canal. There was no electricity there either, but Paw Paw Marchand had a big propane tank so mama could cook. There was an artesian well across the canal that flowed 24 hours a day, so we had plenty of water.

It was like a vacation for us kids as we caught so many fish with dip nets. It seemed like the fun never stopped. Mama and daddy probably tried to keep their spirits up for the benefit of us eight kids, but it was probably pretty tough for them.

The “Pull” is a great thing in the place that we live, but if we live long enough, calamity in nature will happen again. And if it doesn’t happen to us, it will be our turn to be the group that helps those stricken get through.

When it happens, let’s finish the recovery and start the rebuilding then remember to have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you!

Outdoor Calendar

  • Tuesday Evening Bass Tournament: St James Boat Club; Fishers of men tournament trail hosts through August, with a Classic; 5 p.m. until dark. All info on Facebook Tuesday evening Blind River bass.
  • CCA Statewide Anglers’ Rodeo: Through Sept. 6.; CCA Louisiana saltwater rodeo with divisions and numerous categories. Must be CCA member. Website: www.ccalouisiana.com
  • JaBoom High School Master Classic: Aug 14 at Doiron’s Landing in Stephensville. High School angler teams must be accompanied by adult boat captain; $50 entry. For info go to www.jaboombaits.com.
  • Open Bass Tournament: August 14 out of Cypress Cove Marina in Venice; $100 entry fee. Registration at ramp until 5:30 a.m.; $10 optional Big Bass Pot.
  • Ascension Area Anglers Open Bass Tournament: Aug 15 at Doiron’s Landing in Stephensville. Entry fee $100 a team, pick your partner. Fishing from safe daylight to 3 p.m. Proceeds from this event will be used to assist with Club and Louisiana BASS Nation member expenses related to participation in The BASS Nation Championship and The Bassmaster’s Classic. Contact Ryan Lavigne at (225) 921-9332.
  • Jacob Dugas Bass Tournament: Sept 25 ; 20th annual event held out of Doiron’s Landing in Stephensville; $200 entry fee for pick your partner team. Optional big bass $10; no bass $10. Find them on Facebook or call Curt Parent (225) 337-2996 or Philip Waguespack (225) 571-4169.

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