Outdoor Corner: Catfish Bonanza

Lyle Johnson
(L to R) David Fugler and Todd Loup hold two of the five catfish that comprised their winning string of five catfish weighing 86.2 pounds.

This past weekend, the second annual Amite River Catfish Rodeo was held at Fred's on the River in Port Vincent. The weather predicted for our area was a little more than sketchy, but it held off enough for a great turnout of fishing teams and spectators.

Rodney Dupuy and a troop of dedicated volunteers put the rodeo on to benefit two great organizations. One of the benefactors is The Dreams Come True Foundation that grants dream vacations or makes wishes come true for terminally ill children.

The other is St Jude's which ministers to the needs of children's medical needs along with housing for the families while treatment is underway.

Forty-one teams took to the waters on Friday night in search of enough big catfish to bring to the scales to earn the top honors of total weight of five catfish along with the "Big Fish" honors. Both top prizes were a $500 payday for the best fisherman that day.

On this day the team of David Fugler and Todd Loup from Watson turned out to be the best anglers as they captured the 1st place honors for total weight with five blue cats weighing in at 86.2 along with that $500 dollar prize money.

The pair set out bank lines using PVC pipe and limb lines that gave them a total of 100 hooks. The big fish fell victim to live crawfish and skipjack herring. They caught all their fish in the Amite River after putting in at Big Johns and heading out. The fish looked like they were cloned, as the biggest one on the stringer weighed 19.7 and the string averaged a whopping 17.24 pounds.

Rodney Dupuy and Mike Savoy teamed up for a five-catfish limit that pushed the scales to 61.8 pounds to take 2nd place honors and a $250 dollar payday. They also fished the waters of the Amite River to bring in their very respectable catch that averaged 13.64 pounds per fish.

The team of Baton Rouge anglers, long-time neighbors Chris Carroll and Todd Stewart took the 3rd place prize of $150 dollars with a 58.2 pound stringer. To add a cherry on top, the pair also had the big fish of the rodeo with a 31.7 catfish taking home an additional $500 to their total.

Their winning strategy was using live bait on limb lines and rod and reel. Carroll and Stewart fished all week in local ponds to catch live bream for their bait. The Amite River was their place of choice as well to rack up all their winnings.

As I was looking out over the Amite River, I began thinking about back to when I was a very young boy to the beginning of my adult life and all of the people who were positive influences in my life. This brought back memories of some incredible adventures where other people took some time out of their lives to help create those memories.

Of course the greatest person I thought about was my dad, Jerry Lyle, who spent a lot of time with his eight kids helping us to learn about and enjoy the outdoors. He was a great fisherman and passed that passion to some degree in all of our lives.

Then there was daddy's uncle Donnie, which made him my great uncle, who first of all influenced my dad and then me. I remember him telling us the stories of when he was a commercial fisherman and catching nearly a ton (that's right, 2000 pounds) of buffalo and selling them for a penny and a half a pound. I spent time in the boat with both of them, and some of those trips will never fade from my memory.

I remember the times in Paw-Paw Johnson's back yard with these guys building their own boats. They were flat-bottomed, wooden boats with fiberglass on the bottom to help keep them from leaking. They were all painted marine gray, and when they leaked too much, they were passed down to us boys to use in Bayou Francois that runs through the city.

Uncle Bernard Nickens had a squirrel dog named Whitey, and we spent a lot of time at his house in Galvez getting to experience some of the best squirrel hunting I've had to this day. His name was pronounced Benard (the "r" was silent), and I'll never forget those times spent with their family.

His son, James Gerald, lived next door and had a great pack of rabbit dogs. Man, we had the whole "kit and caboodle" in one spot. This was a kid's dream come true. Rabbit hunting in the morning and squirrel hunting in the afternoon, usually with a great meal served in between hunts by Aunt Rosa.

I could go on much longer, but I think you get the idea. All of these men have passed on. But the influence they had in my life will never die. Actually it remains alive today because I'm passing it on as much as I can.

My children have benefited from it as we've spent much time in the outdoors not only enjoying what we were doing but enjoying who we were spending it with even more. Now I get to pass it on to my grandchildren.

The only way our great traditions of the outdoors will remain alive is for us to pass it on to the next generation. Young boys and girls are out there longing for somebody to spend a little time with them to help create memories that will last forever in the minds of someone.

I certainly realize how valuable time is and how little of it we seem to have these days. But none of it will be better spent than sharing it with somebody else, especially a young person. The value of your time will more than double when you give it to someone else.

That's real love, giving of your time for the benefit of someone else. 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.

Canal Bank Bass Tournament: Every Wednesday form 5:00 p.m. until dark (announced at sign up) $40 one time registration fee, $40 per team each tournament. Call Canal Bank for details.

False River Cookie Jar Bass Tourney: Every Friday night 7 p.m.-midnight, La Express launch, Jarreau. Fee $40/boat (two-angler boats; pay at store before launching). Weekly event through spring, summer. Call Storm Randall 225-937-0489.

Turkey Seasons Open Statewide: April 7 in Areas A, B & C. Area C closed Apr 22, Area B closes Apr 29 & Area A closes May 6. Special Youth Season Mar 30 & 31.

Anything Outdoors Helping Kids Frog Rodeo: Postponed until June 15 due to high water. Save the date!

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