I was on the lake fishing for bass once when scenes from the movie, “National Lampoon’s Vacation” entered my mind. Remember when Clark Griswold (played by Chevy Chase) was intent on providing a wonderful vacation for his family when his obnoxious cousin, Eddie (played by Randy Quaid) showed up with his family to totally disrupt Griswold’s plans?
What brought the movie to my memory happened when I felt the thump and vicious fight of a bass that started me thinking about a state record. The fish was stripping line from my reel as it bored for the depths. I was already considering bribing my wife into allowing me to hang the mount of this monster on the wall in our bedroom when the huge fish came to the surface. It wasn’t a bass. It was a bowfin aka choupique aka cypress trout aka grinnel. Just like Cousin Eddie, this rascal of a fish had totally disrupted my plans.
The grinnel is one of what I call the “G” fish that can mess up a day on the lake.
On another occasion when fishing with a group of outdoor writers on a media trip to Caddo Lake, channel catfish were biting and my colleagues were catching them hand over fist. Early on, they were beating the socks off me when my line tightened and a struggle ensued as a catfish I felt was larger than any of my friends had landed took the bait and bored for the depths.
After a spirited battle, I was finally able to bring the brute to the boat and was already feeling smug about landing the lunker of the day. My heart shrank a bit when I realized the big fish I had caught was no catfish; it was a big gaspergou, or “gou” for short.
I agree that these rascals, just like grinnels, can put up a fine fight but as table fare, they’re as far down the list as mud cats. I remembered once while in college a group of us spent the night on the lake intent of frying up and eating the fish we caught. The only thing biting, other than mosquitoes that night, were gou; we caught a bunch of them so we fileted and fried them up. I remember chewing on a hunk of gou that night and the longer I chewed the bigger it got like I was chewing on a wad of cotton, so we ended up eating hush puppies and fries and dumping the remains in the lake to be eaten by the other “G” fish, gar.
More than once I have had a fishing trip disrupted by having a gar attack my bait, a lure that I said goodbye to because the toothy gar easily severed my line and swam away with what he thought was a tasty morsel.
I know people who convert the flesh of gar into something like salmon patties. Removing filets and grinding them up, adding onion and seasoning, they swear the gar patties are as good as those made with salmon. As for me, I’ll just open a can of salmon, follow the directions to make patties. I can’t bring myself to eating patties made out of something that disrupted my fishing and swam away with my favorite lure. Not only that, they’re ugly as sin.
There is one other dastardly piscatorial species that would qualify as a “G” fish if I converted the spelling to “Ghackfish”. Too bony to eat with teeth just waiting to relieve me of a favorite lure, the jackfish (chain pickerel for the high-browed) has always been my sworn enemy when I’m fishing for bass.
So there you have it. When you head for the lake on your next outing, be on the lookout for those dreaded “G”fish.
CANEY LAKE – Crappie are fair fishing shiners or jigs around the deeper tops. The bass are schooling with some caught on topwater lures with soft plastics taking some beneath the breaking schools. Also some bass are hitting oversized plastic worms and deep diving crank baits on under water humps and drop-off. Bream fishing is fair around the lake on crickets or worms. No report on catfish. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278- 4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – Bream and crappie fishing is still fair around the trees and bushes. No report on bass. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
OUACHITA RIVER – Water is at a standstill and bass fishing has been fair to good. Best bet is to fish Carolina rigs, soft plastics, crank baits and topwaters around structure in the river. Crappie are fair fishing shiners or jigs around submerged tops and in the river lakes. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Bass fishing has been fair early morning before temperatures rise using topwater lures and buzz baits around the grass. Soft plastic working best later in the day. Crappie are fair with best catches made on shiners or jigs fished along the edges of the channels in 12-20 foot water. Bream are fair fishing worms and crickets. Catfish are biting cold worms fished off the banks. For latest information, call Anderson Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Bass and stripers are schooling some and hitting topwater lures and shad imitations. Lunker of the week was caught by Danny Goss who landed an 11 pound bass while night fishing. Bream are fair on crickets and worms. Crappie fishing has been best fishing around the lighted piers at night using shiners with some hanging around deep brush and hitting jigs and shiners. No report on catfish. For latest information, call Kel’s Cove at 927-2264 or TerziaTackle at 278-4498.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Catfishing is good for fish from pan sized to around 8 pounds. Bass, bream and crappie are slow. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE ST. JOHN – Fishing overall has been slow this week. For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water level is at a stand-still and best fishing has been for catfish. Bass are fair on spinners while crappie and bream are slow. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.
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