Outdoor Corner: Fishing Fever

Lyle Johnson

I know hunting season is well under way and that's what a lot of the outdoor buzz is about. All of the national outdoors TV shows now center around hunting as well, while fishing has taken a back seat for the most part (unless you can find a re-run or two).

While hunting is a sport that I dearly love to take part in, fishing will always be my favorite outdoors pastime. This didn't happen by chance as my dad, Jerry Lyle Johnson (yes, I'm a junior) was considered well above average in his ability to catch fish, especially largemouth bass.

Although I knew from firsthand experience by being in a boat with him, hearing about his exploits from others that knew him was a common occurrence. One of the quotes I heard over and over was, "Man, Jerry Lyle can catch a bass in a damp dish rag!" Although I'm pretty sure that never happened, it showed the respect other bass anglers had for him.

So fishing came sort of natural for me as I have been fishing "ever since I can remember," which is about 62 years. Man, that's a long time! My dad passed away back in 2001. I miss him a lot, but the fishing memories will never pass away. I often think of him as I'm sitting on my pier fishing for catfish.

As I grew older my horizons expanded to the salt water arena, partly due to curiosity and partly meeting my future brother-in-law, Goosie Guice. It grew from inshore fishing for specs and redfish to heading offshore to participate in fishing the rigs to trolling for billfish and tuna.

I've been fortunate to break the century mark twice: a 118-pound yellowfin tuna and a 130-pound hammerhead shark. Also been blessed enough to catch many species: red, mangrove, beeline, and yellowtail snapper, lemonfish, three-to-five-pound white trout and croaker in the Gulf of Mexico. Moreover, rainbow trout, silver and pink salmon, arctic grayling and pike in Alaska, and rainbow trout in Tennessee and Colorado have been part of my experience.

But there's just something about that green fish with a dark lateral line and black vertical stripes of some kind that seems to get the adrenaline pumping like no other fish. My dad loved it, I love it, my son and one of my daughters all love catching those bass.

Lots of folks that are reading this column know what I'm talking about. Plenty of folks out there all over Ascension Parish know what I'm talking about. But for those who don't, there's no explanation me or anyone else could give that could make them understand.

It's so bad that in 1968 Ray Scott founded the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society. His purpose was to elevate the sport of bass fishing to a national place of prominence as a legitimate professional sport with fans and all. I think he was pretty successful in his vision.

As a matter of fact, Scott had eight "B.A.S.S. Purposes" he laid out for the group to follow:

1. To organize the bass anglers of America.

2. To stimulate public awareness of bass fishing as a major participation sport and elevate it to a place of prominence.

3. To improve our skills as bass anglers through the exchange of expert bass catching techniques and ideas.

4. To offer our state conservation departments our organized moral and political support and encouragement. To promote full adherence to all conservation codes.

5. To demand adequate water standards and legal enforcement of existing regulatory standards. To detect and report any polluter and call public and political attention to the crime.

6. To encourage private and governmental study necessary to maintain quality fishing and fish habitat and to ensure quality fisheries for ourselves and future generations.

7. To promote and encourage youth fishing. Kids don't just go fishing—they are taken fishing. We must instill in our youth an interest in and love for this great sport.

8. To present national championship bass fishing tournaments. These tournaments will bring together the nation's most dedicated bass fishermen, and the publicity derived from them will stimulate public interest in bass angling.

To bring some equal time to the non-professional folks, bass fishing is not all about tournaments. More anglers are just weekend warriors that enjoy the opportunity to catch a bass just for the fun of it. But believe me, they are just as serious in their efforts as any of the pros are.

Fishing in general is a great pastime for many reasons. First off, it can be good therapy. There's just something about the water that is very relaxing whether you're catching fish or not. It's a great way to spend quality time with your kids, family members or friends. But one has to be careful as to not spending too much time doing it.

Over the years I've witnessed the spread of the well-known malady known as "fishing fever." It affects both males and females, although men seem to be much more susceptible. It can even sometimes start at a very early age. One has to be very careful as once it is caught (pun intended) there is no known cure. It spreads easily as it is highly contagious. I myself have been a victim for many years.

Some of the symptoms are: buying a $60 to $80 thousand-dollar boat to fish out of; own two closets full of tackle; can be heard saying things like, "I need to go to Bass Pro, baby. There's a new bait out and I gotta have it," or, "The weather ain't that bad . . . I'll wear a rain suit," or the often-stated line with great intentions, "I won’t be late."

When this is said it just about verifies that one is in the late stages of the disease and very well can't be turned around. "One more cast," and two hours later they're still fishing.

Thanks dad for taking me fishing, I'll never forget it.

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

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.

Squirrel & Rabbit Season: Oct. 5-Feb. 29, open statewide on private lands only. Daily bag limit 8 and possession limit 24.

Paddle Away: OCT. 6—8-11 a.m., Highland Road Boat Launch, Baton Rouge. Fee $10-$12. Call BREC 225-272-9200. Email: Website:

Grand Isle Ladies Fishing Rodeo: OCT. 11-12 @ Bridge Side Marina, Grand Isle. Call 985-787-2229. Email:

Geaux Fish Catfish Rodeo: OCT. 12—7:30-11:30 a.m. @ Burbank Soccer Complex Pond, Burbank Drive, Baton Rouge. Pond will be stocked with adult catfish. Prizes. Catfish must be taken home. Oct. 10 preregistration deadline website: Call BREC 225-272-9200.

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