Correction & Boating Safety

Lyle Johnson, President of Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association
My Grandson, Canaan Watts holding three of the bass we caught in the Diversion Canal and the Amite River last Saturday.

Two weeks ago while reporting on the 1st Annual Amite River Catfish Rodeo I made a mistake that I would like to rectify. I listed Daniel Dupuy with 53.1 for a total weight and winning 3rd place. That was not correct. Taking 3rd place honors were the team of Sean and Skylar Moran with five catfish weighing 53.8 lbs for an average of 10.8 lbs.

Normally a short correction is the norm for correcting a statement that turns out not to be true but when I found out that Skylar was a St. Jude kid, I just had to look into it. Skylar is a 16-year-old attending French Settlement High School. He seems pretty much a normal young man, very enthusiastic about spending time in the outdoors with his dad. They especially like to fish.

But life for the Moran’s didn’t start off like most families. As a new born baby, Skylar was diagnosed with a very rare facial tumor. In fact it was so rare that the folks at Ochsner's in New Orleans had never seen it much less treated anything like it.

So a trip to St Jude Hospital was in order and the family headed up to Memphis for treatment. Skylar’s tumor was only the sixth case in medical history at the time and at six months of age Skylar had to face chemotherapy for one year. Katie, Skylar’s mom, and the family returned to Louisiana with the tumor treated and a great prognosis.

Being a fisherman myself, sometimes that gang has been known to fudge the truth some, not tell all they know and occasionally tell an outright lie. But this pair chose to tell all, keeping nothing a secret, to let us know how they did it.

The Moran team of Sean & Skylar did a very good job in the catfish rodeo. They launched their boat at Canal Bank on Friday night at 7:30 p.m., heading up the Diversion Canal toward the weir to begin setting out their noodles. The bait of choice was cut bream while fishing them between the weir and Lake Martin.

After catching twenty or so catfish that they donated to the rodeo cleaning teams to help raise money for Dreams Come True and St. Jude, the pair headed back to the launch to take the boat out and call it a night at 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning. “It was really a blast fishing with my dad to help raise money for Dreams Come True and St. Jude,” said Skylar Moran. “They both mean a lot to me and my family.”

We fish in Colyell Bay quite a bit with noodles on a regular basis,” stated Skylar, “and we catch big ones there as well.” The big cats are not the only fish they target. “We like to fish in Grand Isle for speckled trout and we love to take the kids fishing for bream in Lake Verret.”

The success of the fund raising fishing rodeo even surprised the man with the idea, Rodney Dupre. The prize money was donated which meant all the 42 entries along with the jambalaya, the fried catfish and raffle tickets for door prizes, a whopping $6000 was tallied and split between the two charities. Half went to Dreams Come True and St. Jude Research Center.

The Moran’s got some news recently that wasn’t as good as the way the Catfish Rodeo turned out. The tumor in Skylar’s face is growing again, but the good news is that is stopped growing at the rate it started. The folks at St Jude are only monitoring the condition and not treating it. If you are a praying person, I’m sure Katie, Sean and Skylar would appreciate that immensely.

Next, this past weekend the Tickfaw 200 poker run to benefit the Livingston Parish Police Department took place. It’s a spectacle to see with all those big boats, not only from all over the United States but all over the world as well. Crowded waterways always brings safety to mind, as well.

The weather is heating up, and so is the traffic on the water. A reminder about safety while boating is always a good think about. Our past history is not great where boating accidents have resulted in fatalities. There have been several this year already.

On May 2nd three adults were on a 27-foot vessel around 7 a.m. about a half mile from South Pass in the Gulf of Mexico when it capsized ejecting all three men into the water. One of the men was able to make it to shore and according to the survivor from Baton Rouge was able to retrieve one of the men and get him to shore.

The man that the survivor retrieved was unresponsive once on shore and pronounced dead by a medical examiner on the scene. The deceased was 86 years old from Magnolia, Texas. His body was turned over to the Plaquemines Parish Coroner’s Office to determine an official cause of death.

Search and rescue crews continued searching for the other missing boater in the area of the capsized vessel. The missing boater is 85 years old from Baton Rouge. It is unknown at this time what caused the vessel to capsize.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents found the deceased body of a missing boater in Plaquemines Parish this morning, May 5. LDWF agents along with the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office and LDWF Wildlife Division staff found the body of Donald Tabb, 85, of Baton Rouge, around 10:30 a.m. near the Southwest Pass over 10 miles from where he was reported missing.

None of the three men were wearing personal flotation devices at the time which is not unusual on a 27’ boat. I’ve been offshore many times and folks just don’t wear them because the boats themselves seem to be enough protection because of the size. This time it wasn’t the case.

I don’t think anyone leaves the boat launch on a fun day in the water wondering if today might be their last day on earth because of a boating accident. They certainly don’t think they will be the cause of someone else’s death. But it might be a good thing to think about being safe to make sure that doesn’t happen.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. I’d like to give out a big shout out to my mom, Clara Johnson who raised eight kids, fed us and clothed us as well as cooking our wild game when we were kids. Love you mama. Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Until next time, have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God bless you!!