The pied-billed grebe is a rather nondescript water bird most of us have never heard of. However, when you mention “di-dipper”, heads nod in recognition. They’re one and the same.
Just about every country boy who spent anytime around a lake while growing up has
encountered these shy little critters that are there on the surface one minute; gone the next.
I see the little brown birds frequently on the surface of the lake at Lincoln Parish Park
and they only let you see them for a short while. Try to get closer and they dive, popping up a few seconds later 10 feet from where they dived.
According to George Lowery’s “Louisiana Birds”, the most remarkable feature of these
birds is their ability to submerge instantaneously, thus their French name of sac-a-plomb, which means “sack of lead”. Lowery also noted that it is virtually impossible to shoot a grebe because “at the flash from the muzzle, the bird submerges and is gone before the pellets arrive.”
With all due respect, George, I beg to differ. Read on….
My first encounter with a grebe was down on Chee Chee Bay in Natchitoches Parish. I
was in my early teens when I went to spend the night with a friend from school with the idea of going duck hunting the next morning. My friend, Arthur, lived near the lake, which made it convenient for us to be at the lakeside at first light, hoping to get some pass-shooting at a duck or two.
Arthur went one way; I went another as I waited in the cold dampness for a crack at a
duck. While hunkering down behind some button willows next to the shoreline, I waited for what seemed an hour without a single duck flying my way. Then I spotted something moving on the water just up the lake from where I was. In my mind’s eye, it was a duck.
I formulated a plan to outsmart that duck and at least have something to show for my
efforts that morning. By using the row of button willows as a shield, I belly-crawled through the cold mud for 100 yards until I had sneaked within shotgun range of the little brown “duck”.
When I’d gotten close enough, I eased to one knee, raised my gun, took aim, and fired. The “duck” rolled over, dead as a…..well, you know. Then I encountered a problem. The wind was blowing out and my prize was floating away toward the big lake.
Luck was on my side, though, because I spotted an old wooden boat somebody had
beached just up from where I was. There was no paddle in the boat but I found a plank nearby that would serve as my paddle.
The boat was made of wood, it was big and very heavy. It took all the strength I could
muster but I finally pushed and pulled; grunted and strained until I had the boat in the water. As you might expect, a boat such as this would never have been abandoned if it were still sea-worthy. It leaked; not too bad but enough that I figured I had to paddle fast to reach my duck and then get back to shore before it sank.
Flailing the water with the one-by-six plank, I was finally able to catch up with my
“duck”. It was not until I had lifted it from the water that I realized my mistake. It was no duck; it was a di-dipper. I had little time to browbeat myself because the boat was sinking. I had to fight the wind and paddle with all my might to get the boat back to shore. I just barely made it before the creaky old craft filled with water. I left it in the shallows and walked ashore, wet and muddy, with my di-dipper.
For the uninformed, the pied-billed grebe is described as a “ducklike water bird closely
related to LOONS.”
After this hunt, I felt I may have been that grebe’s cousin.
CANEY LAKE – Caney Lake Landing has been renovated with a new name and is now open for business at the bridge on Highway 4. Bass are beginning to move into the coves and pockets and are hitting soft plastics, jigs and crank baits. Carolina rigs are picking up some nice bass fishing underwater humps and drop-offs. Crappie still in deep water around brush and hitting shiners or jigs. No report on bream or 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 – Crappie are improving around the trees on jigs or shiners. Bass are improved around the trees on a variety of lures. No report bream. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
BUSSEY BRAKE – Some nice bass including a new lake record of over 13 pounds have been caught this week on jigs and soft plastics. Crappie are fair to good on jigs and shiners around brush. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole at 323-8707.
OUACHITA RIVER – The water is on a slow fall but very little fishing reported this week. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Crappie are on the move with some early spawners starting to move onto staging areas in 6-8 foot water. Some nice ones are being caught on shiners or jigs. Bass are beginning to move up as well and some good fish have been caught fairly shallow on spinners, crank baits and topwater lures. Bream are not yet ready but lots of catfish were caught fishing cold worms and night crawlers off the banks. For latest information, call Anderson Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Bass are starting to move toward the shallow spawning areas with some nice fish caught on soft plastics, topwater lures and crank baits. Crappie are still best fishing deep water with jigs and shiners picking up some fish. Catfishing is good on a variety of baits. No report on bream or stripers. For latest information, call Kel’s Cove at 927-2264 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Catfishing is good. Crappie fishing is improving on jigs and shiners as the fish begin to move more shallow. A 2.16 pound slab was weighed in. Bass are starting to improve on soft plastics. No report on bream. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is on a slow rise but there has been very little fishing this week because of high winds. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.
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