Outdoor Corner

Lyle Johnson
Kendall Parent holds his 10.25 big bass he caught fishing Caney Lake.

This past weekend the Louisiana Sportsman’s Show put on its 39th annual event at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. The event featured 230 vendors as every booth available was sold making it the largest ever held in our parish.

I got to spend about 6 hours or so out there on Saturday to take in all the sights and sounds. Folks were looking and buying everything from seasoning blends to fishing tackle to tractors and boats and just about everything in between. There were groups promoting their causes as well and a couple of them that I am familiar with caught my attention.

The first is a local organization titled “Anything Outdoors Helping Kids”. I spent some time there with the founder, Jacob Heath. The organization was started after Jacob and Renee Heath’s son Preston needed treatment at St Jude’s for Severe Aplastic Anemia which is a disease in which the bone marrow does not make enough red or white blood cells or platelets for the body.

Anything Outdoors is a nonprofit 501(c)3 founded in 2016 by Preston's father, Jacob Heath, to help local St. Jude kids and their families. Jacob and Renee knew once Preston recovered, they wanted to help other families in the same situation that they were in.

AO does yeoman’s work in raising money to help St Jude kids and their families along with supporting other charitable organizations in our area. This is one group of folks that is well worth supporting. Their apparel (hats, shirts, etc.) can be found at many local businesses. Their mission is to help people as they were helped. You can find the story along with all the locations to purchase apparel and any other info you need at the website; http://www.anythingoutdoorshelpingkids.com or email AnythingOutdoors16@gmail.com.

The second group is not as local but a state-wide organization titled Louisiana Sportsmen’s Coalition. Some of you may be familiar with them as their mission is to restore navigation rights of navigable waterways in our state to be opened for the public to use once again.

In case you don’t know, more and more of our states’ waterways are being posted by landowners to public use. If you salt water fish, you’ve probably seen this happening. LASC actually got its start with the posting of a water way in the Lake Verret area that had been open to the public for years. A small group of folks got together to see what could be done to open the waterway back to the public. What they found were obstacles both legal and unethical in their way and they seemed insurmountable.0

My first experience with this issue happened about 35 years ago fishing in the marsh around Leeville with a guide, Steve Shook. We went into a canal through a small opening and began to fish. Shook commented, “Usually this opening is blocked off with a barrel. They try to keep people out.” About 10 minutes later a man in a boat came in to ask us to leave. When he saw who it was, he told us we could stay. We left anyway with us all wondering what had just happened.

Things have gotten much worse with landowners holding the trump card because of a bill passed in the 1800’s using a map from the same time that now give them ownership of the water bottoms. Folks fishing spots they’ve fished all their lives are being harassed, threatened, ticketed and fined on water that does not even have a posted sign on it.

The Bassmaster organization has after years of holding many tournaments’ including the Bassmaster Classic many times has deemed south Louisiana off limits to their tournament trail in fear of getting anglers in trouble because they can’t determine where they can legally fish. This problem costs Louisiana businesses millions of dollars a year. This matter is very complicated but I beg you to take a look at this story to get it all in one dose; http://www.nola.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2016/07/paradise_lost_louisiana_angler.html

With the persistence of LASC working with our state legislators there is a bill in committee to help deal with this problem. HB-391 will be heard on March 27 and that committee needs to hear from as many folks as possible.

In a nutshell it reads like this; HB 391-Abstract: Provides for the public navigation of running waters, including those running waters passing over any privately owned water bottom directly connected to a state owned water bottom that is subject to the ebb and flow of the tide. Go to their Facebook page or website to get more info. To become a member, send a check to LASC P.O. Box 14864 Baton Rouge, LA 70898, or join online at: https://joinlasc.com.

But even in the darkness there is always some light. Next is a story from a son, Kendall Parent, with a desire to take his dad bass fishing. It wasn’t very easy and it was a team effort to get it accomplished. This is the kind of story we need to hear more of. In early February my dad, Ellis Parent and I begin planning our four-day fishing trip. As you might know fishing trips take a lot of planning but in this case we needed sacrifices as well.

My dad's wife of many years has dementia and needs constant care. His daughters Kristie Pregeant and Shannon Hickey with daughter-in-law Robin Parent willingly sacrificed their time to care for my dad's wife Gail while he was away.

His son Curt Parent sacrificed his time to bring him to Monroe from Port Vincent Louisiana. Without their selfless giving, this trip would not have been possible. Since my dad, who will be 80 years old May 23 is legally blind so he needs help with packing and preparation.

Though, because of his vision problems, I had to tie-on his baits and prepare the rods and reels he caught two of the biggest fish on the first day when we went to Lake Claiborne. We boated a total of 13 bass that day! He is such a seasoned fisherman that the fish can't fool him....he feels their bite at the slightest tug.

The second day we set out for Caney Lake. What a day we had! I caught a 10.25 pound bass - a record for me! The best five that we caught that day probably weighed around 28 pounds. Had we been in a tournament, we might have won and my dad played a big part in that!

The third day we returned to Caney where dad caught one that weighed about 7 pounds. We caught many more nice ones the rest of the day. By day four we were both pretty tired and stayed home and rested. I'd like to say thank you for all who helped make possible the "Memories on the Water March 3 through 5, 2018." I believe if more things like this went on in our world today we would have a better place to live.

So just like always; Have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you!!

Lyle Johnson is freelance writer and the President of the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association. He can be reached at reelman@eatel.net