Life on the lake never gets boring

Life around the lake is never boring, no matter your age. And the lessons are there for the taking. Just slow down, look and listen. Like these stories.

They were both different. Yet, they were both the same. The egret and the boys.

First, a lone Egret sat on what was left of a big cypress tree stump out on a shallow flat not far from the bank. The egret sat motionless for a few minutes, then dove beak first into the water and came up with supper.

He repeated that act several times before I had to go. Apparently, the egret had more time allotted for this than I did. And he was getting lunch out of it, while I wasn’t. He was taking advantage of the drawdown on the lake for some easy lunch as shad ran up into the newly formed shallows.

Fishermen usually follow the birds to find the shrimp to find the speckled trout. If you pay close enough attention, that same technique can work for you in freshwater, too. Even when the lake is in a man-made drawdown, or like last summer, a God-made extended drought.

If you’ll notice, often you can see egrets congregated in one area, sitting on stumps or wading near the shore. The Egrets sitting on the stumps aren’t there so you can take their picture. They are looking for lunch and they won’t sit there long if there aren’t fish nearby. It’s nature’s own fish finder.

Light bulb! Fish nearby…maybe I should drop a line? That thought can’t escape a serious fisherman.

Finding treasures

I recall another drawdown scene from years ago that caught my eye and lodged in my memory. There were the two boys who came wading around the shore looking under piers and along the newly-exposed lake bottom. Like the egret, they were taking advantage of the drawdown to explore new ground and search for treasures that had been dropped in the lake.

As I saw one of the boys pick up a small piece of old fishing gear, it reminded me of the days when Bussey Brake Reservoir in Bastrop, La., was drawn down for levee repairs when I was a kid. My friend D.A. Nelson and I spent about a week wading the shallows and mud walking the bottom at Bussey gathering up Coke bottles. In those days, you could get two or three cents a bottle for the returnable glass Coke bottles. We picked them up, washed them off and made enough money to buy fish bait all summer long.

Soon after that, soda pop went to using disposable bottles. I guess no matter how much washing you do, a Dr. Pepper just doesn’t taste the same out of a bottle that laid on the bottom of the lake for no telling how long.

Life around the lake is never boring.

Everybody’s fish

One day I was fishing in a bass tournament and ran up to the end of a little inlet where a culvert drained water into the lake from a nearby slough. Right up the bank were two old fishing piers. All three of those spots were guaranteed to produce a good sized bass, if not more, if you got there first.

On this morning, I did. I tossed a white spinnerbait up onto the top of the culvert, let it splash into the water and began reeling. On the third turn of the reel handle, a nice largemouth nailed it. A few casts later, I put bass No. 2 in the boat.

The first pier I stopped at and cast a Mann’s Black Grape Jelly Waggler beside it, bass No. 3 came splashing into the net, followed quickly by No. 4.

The next pier had a young boy standing on it, drinking chocolate milk and just watching what was going on. Perhaps he was looking for an Egret, or just avoiding his Saturday morning chores.

I eased up to the pier and made a few casts, when suddenly a big five pounder nailed my Little N crankbait (you know I’m old school). The bass put up quite a fight and when I finally got him in, I held it up for the young boy to see. I wasn’t expecting his reaction.

He turned and ran back up the pier, yelling, “Mommy, Mommy. Some man is catching our fish.”

She came running out, trying to figure out what was going on. She consoled him and I don’t remember her exact words, but I’ll always remember the first thing she said.

“It’s okay son,” she said. “They’re everybody’s fish.”

Boy, do a lot of keyboard warriors on outdoor sites need to hear and learn that simple lesson today. But I digress. I did feel a bit sad for the little boy, and I told him that some more would swim up and live there, but I don’t think it helped.

Not all folks feel the same way, though.

Some lakefront property owners spend a lot of time and effort fixing up piers and boathouses to hold fish. I respect that, but if you build it out over a public body of water, folks are going to fish it. And as long as they respect the property, it’s just part of life on the lake, like the rise and fall of water levels with rain and lack thereof.

Red shorts

One day as I and one of my friends and his son fished down a stretch of bank, we neared a pretty fancy pier. Before we could even get close enough to cast, a rather bulky man wearing short red shorts and a tank top who was grilling up on his porch came bounding down the walkway. I thought he was going to ask if we were catching any, which is kind of a normal thing.

But his bouncing approach was with a sense of urgency.

“Look, I put a lot of time and effort into baiting up this dock so I can catch fish around it,” the man who is now eternally known as “red shorts” said.

We were both a little surprised at him claiming ownership of the public lake and without much thought, I just said “Thanks.” That didn’t help much.

About that time, I caught a little three-quarter pound bass not much bigger than my 7-inch plastic worm. After an awkward moment of silence, I tossed it back in close to the dock and said, “looks like you need to feed them better” and we trolled away.

Life around the lake is never boring.

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About Kinny Haddox 72 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 40 years. He also publishes a daily website, He and his wife, DiAnne, live on Lake D’Arbonne in Farmerville.

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