Outdoor Corner: Women in the Outdoors

Lyle Johnson
This female angler shows off one of the red snapper she caught on the offshore excursion.

I’d like to start off by welcoming a new sponsor to Outdoor Corner. Layne’s Jewelry & Design located on New River just off Airline Highway has joined in helping to keep this long-running article available to our Ascension Parish subscribers. Welcome Layne!

Every year, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries hosts their annual Women's Fishing Workshop twice. The primary component of the two-part workshop is a classroom-style instructional course held at Cabela's right here in Gonzales.

Angling techniques are taught to a group of 30 women, 18 and older, who may lack the opportunity or confidence to learn these skills. The ladies leave the workshop as more knowledgeable, independent anglers.

The second workshop this year took place at Cabela's on April 28, and their Grand Isle trip was July 13-15. The Cabela's activities included a Fishing Tackle 101 presentation, How to Rig your own Rod & Reel, How to Cast with a Spincast and Spinning Reel, Fish Cleaning, Fish Identification, and Fishing at the Cabela's pond.

Interested participants were entered into a drawing for an opportunity to take part in a fishing trip based out of the department's Grand Isle Fisheries Research Lab. On the fishing trip this past weekend at the Grand Isle Fisheries Research Lab, 14 women perfected their angling skills under the supervision and assistance of experienced LDWF staff and Aquatic Volunteer Instructors.

The ladies hit the ground running on Friday evening, learning proper technique to set up their rods and reels followed by casting practice from the dock. On Saturday, LDWF staff and volunteers led both inshore and offshore fishing trips, providing a hands-on opportunity for the participants to utilize the skills previously learned.

After escaping early morning storms, the ladies were able to spend a full day on the water fishing for red snapper, speckled trout and redfish. When not on the boat, the ladies practiced fish cleaning, cast netting, trailering and toured the research lab.

The next workshop is scheduled for Spring 2019. I encourage any one of our ladies that have an inkling about wanting to do this, to go for it! You won’t be sorry, and you’ll make some friends for a lifetime if you get chosen. It’s never too early to sign up. To do that click on http://www.wlf.la.gov/signup to receive emails that will let you know when to apply. For more information on this program visit http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/fishingworkshops.

Road Warriors

Next, I’d like to give a shout out to a special group of anglers that is near and dear to my heart. I call them the road warriors. They are special in my heart because I am reminded of myself every time I pass them on the road.

After a blown out drive (wind blowing too hard to go offshore) I headed back to St. Amant a little dejected. But a smile came on my face as I crossed the bridge from Grand Isle and saw lots of folks fishing off the old bridge.

About a mile up LA 1 there are three bridges. As I passed by, I saw plenty of road warriors fishing on the bridge and along the road. Before I got to Fourchon, the road was virtually lined with men, women, and children fishing.

They looked quite serious, as a supper of fried fish was the plan for the day. They were slinging artificial baits and live shrimp, and they were popping corks with just about every kind of bait you could imagine.

I eventually made my way from the saltwater environment to freshwater. Passing through Kraemer and then Vacherie, the anglers were still on the side of the road but the tactics and species changed. Lots of cane poles with crickets and worms were being used. Although some of the folks were fishing for the most sought after delicacy: choupique.

Making my way through Gramercy, I hit Airline Highway, and the crowd was there as well. From Gramercy to the St. James Boat Club the bank was lined with anglers of all kinds trying to catch a few fish. There was even a young guy fishing on a paddle board. He had a tackle box, an ice chest, and a rod and reel. That was pretty cool.

Actually I was a little jealous and a bit frustrated at myself as my side of the road tackle was left at home. The only rod and reel that was in my truck is designed to pull red snapper and whatever it hooks from deep waters. There was no tackle box either. I shook my head more than once.

I’m very proud of the “Road Warriors” everywhere I see them, because I know what they go through fishing on the side of the road. So until next week, 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 the President of the Louisiana Outdoor Writer's Association.