My first glimpse of a bald eagle in Louisiana took place when I was just a kid and the one I saw was sitting on a nest made of a huge pile of sticks and branches high up in a big pine tree not far from my home in Goldonna. Someone had alerted my dad to the eagle nest and he took my brother, sister and me to the piney woods to see it. Unfortunately, too many other people knew about the nest and all the activity caused the birds to abandon the nest.
According to officials with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), the Goldonna eagle and just about all the others around the state disappeared. In the early 1970s, only seven nests were counted across the entire state. Not only had the birds disappeared in our state, the same thing was happening across the United States. The culprit responsible for the vanishing eagles was a pesticide we know as DDT.
The pesticide did a great job of controlling nuisance insects on crops. Many of the DDT- infested insects made their way into waterways where they were eaten by small fish, which were eaten by larger fish, which just happens to be a bald eagle’s main diet.
As eagles caught and ate fish, the DDT came with the eagle’s meal with the result being an increasing difficulty of the birds to absorb calcium, the absence of which made the eggs of nesting eagles thin. As a result, eggs were broken before they hatched.
Fortunately, the use of DDT was outlawed in the United States in 1972 and a slow but
steady recovery began. Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to spot eagles at inopportune times. I’m not looking for them but – BAM – there’s an eagle.
I was headed to my favorite fishing pond one morning several years ago. As I turned off the highway down the road to the pond, something caught my eye sitting in a tall pine. I saw the telltale white head of a bald eagle.
One of the most impressive sightings I ever had was one day a few years ago when James Ramsaur, director of Lincoln Parish Park, called me to bring my camera; he had something to show me. When I arrived at the park, I saw what looked like a feather pillow had exploded along the pond dam at the park. Sitting atop a tall tree nearby was a bald eagle. Ramsaur explained that an eagle had caught one of the white ducks making their home on the lake and enjoyed a meal on the pond dam.
More recently, I was driving home from town when I watched a bald eagle flying across a pasture toward a pond. The white head and tail feathers were dead giveaways.
While I have had the occasion to spot an eagle now and then, my wife has been denied that opportunity and I hoped she might be with me when I spotted one. Last week, I struck gold.
After a trip to town, I had noticed that the owner of a hay field across the road from my home had mowed hay that morning. Casting a glance onto the field of freshly cut hay, something caught my eye. There sitting in the field 100 yards from me was a bald eagle apparently enjoying a meal from a rat; snake; rabbit or something the mower had run over.
Since it was a few hundred yards from home, I hurried in, told my wife to jump in the car and come with me to see if it was still there. It was. We sat for several minutes observing the eagle which was being harassed by several crows. The eagle eventually flew to a branch on a tall tree across the field and having brought binoculars along with us, we enjoyed the scene for several minutes before the big bird grew tired of being harassed by crows and flew along the field giving us another spectacular view of the white head and tail as it flew.
If you really love your wife and she has never seen an eagle, be on the lookout for one to show her. I have a sneaking feeling I’ll be getting a chocolate pie out of the deal.
CANEY LAKE – Deep diving crank baits and Carolina rigged worms are picking up some bass to 8 pounds on the deeper drops while swim baits are working fairly well along the grass lines. Crappie fishing has been best at night on shiners around the lights. The bream are bedded and hitting crickets and worms. No report on catfish. For information contact Caney Lake Landing at 259-6649, Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – Bream are on the beds and hitting worms and crickets. Crappie and bass are around the trees. Bass hitting spinner baits. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
BUSSEY BRAKE – Big bass in the 8-10 pound category are being caught flipping the brush along with spinners and square billed crank bits. Topwater lures working best early mornings. Crappie are scattered; bream are on the beds and hitting worms and crickets. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole at 323-8707.
OUACHITA RIVER – Crappie fishing has been good in the river lakes on jigs and shiners. Bream are on the beds in the woods. Bass are fair on crank baits. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – The Majestic Big Bass classic kicks off this weekend. Bass have been best on spinners and crank baits along shallow grass lines. Crappie are on the edge of the flats. Bream are on the beds and hitting worms and crickets. Catfish continue to be 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 have been good on swim baits with good fishing for them at night with soft plastics and spinners. Bream fishing has been best up Isaac Creek on crickets and worms. Crappie fishing has been best up the creeks on shiners or jigs. No report on catfish or stripers. For latest information, call Kel’s Cove at 927-2264 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Catfish and bream are biting. Bass and crappie slow to fair. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is falling and barfish and crappie along with catfish are starting to bite. Bass are fair. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.
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