OUTDOOR CORNER: The Saints, cold and wet weather, crawfish and bass and the lack of ducks

Lyle Johnson
The Lake Ridge Hunting Club didn’t do so badly. Brett Brown with his first drake mallard he killed this season.

I realize this is an outdoor column and the Saints winning the Super Bowl has been written about thousands of times but I’d like to put in my two cents worth. Hey, they played in an outdoor stadium so that ought to qualify.

In 1967, the St Theresa Warriors football team won the parish championship and were rewarded with a trip to New Orleans to see the Saints play the Dallas Cowboys. This game was also played outside at Tulane Stadium.

I’d attended a couple of LSU games by this time, but this was a little different. Two legendary Packers played for the Saints; Jimmy Taylor and Paul Hornung. Billy Kilmer was the quarterback, John Gilliam had returned a kickoff for a TD in the first game and “Dandy” Don Meredith was the quarterback for Dallas. It was very exciting.

 The game sort of went like most of their games that year – they were losing. Early in the fourth quarter the referees made a terrible call against the Saints (who woulda thought it) and the crowd came to life. Along with world class booing, whiskey bottles, toilet paper and just about anything that wasn’t bolted down began to rain on the field thrown by very upset fans. Some of the refs just ran for cover.

The game came to an abrupt halt as the noise was deafening and some impromptu clean-up was taking place. It went on for so long that the head referee signaled for the clock to start. They actually ran off time while both teams were just standing there. The boos turned to a cheer of “Stop that clock, stop that clock”.

What seemed like an eternity had passed and a play was finally gotten off and “Dandy” Don fumbles the snap and it started over again. Man, this was great for a junior high football team amongst all this excitement!

It was so cool that the actual time the game was delayed was over 22 minutes and is still in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest a professional football game has been held up by fans. I truly believe this was the early birth of the Who Dat Nation and we got to be a part of it. Forty-three years later the dream comes true; how sweet it is.

Somebody up in Punxsutawney, Pa. needs to be taught how to cook a sauce piquant and get rid of that groundhog that keeps extending winter. How about it, KD? Man, by the time you read this we might have had snow for the third time in one winter. And somebody quit playing that Temptation song about wishing it would rain.

But what might make some cry will bring tears of joy to Atchafalaya Basin crawfishermen. Along with the late snow melt last year mixed in with all the rain in the middle of the country has kept the Mississippi river unusually high for a long period of time.

If things stay in a somewhat normal time table by the time the snow melts this year, the river will have stayed high for nearly a year. That means the spillway has stayed abnormally high as well. Crawfish bonanza.

Spillway crawfish have been available since late December, which is a little early. The price is pretty high so the guys that are willing to brave the cold weather and water while setting their traps in the right places have been earning some pretty good money. And I did use the word, earn.

As much fun I remember having as a kid catching crawfish in set nets pales in comparison to the effort it takes to get those mudbugs from the swamp to the picnic table boiled up with potatoes, corn, sausage and just about anything a Cajun can fit in a boiling pot. Hey, maybe this would be a good spot to put that out of whack groundhog. Just kidding.

The fish will reap the benefits of all this water as well. Although a few anglers will be catching a few bass and panfish while the water levels are up, there’s lots of place throughout that the fish can stay away from the anglers. So whatever is hatched inside the flooded woods will have a great opportunity to live and grow.

When the water recedes all that wildlife will leave the woods and go to the canals and bayous. They will also be very hungry and be an easy target for those who like to catch them. That will be a great time and I can’t wait.

One thing that was disappointing with all the cold and rain is the lack of ducks that made their way here. Some folks were fortunate enough to have really good numbers of ducks to hunt but this season will go down as pretty bad overall. We had enough cold weather in the northern states to push them down but it just didn’t happen. Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. So until next time have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you.