Winter fishing brings back old memories

Published 11:59pm Saturday, December 10, 2011

This recent cold front may slow the fishermen and women down from fishing, but the fish still eat no matter the conditions.

Cold weather brings back many memories from my childhood and teen years. Thanks to my mom and dad, I grew up as a winter fisherman — a cold water angler. We were farmers — sharecroppers on a couple of different plantations across Louisiana before eventually landing and taking root in Concordia Parish around 1970.

Dad passed away in 1986. We continued to be sharecroppers until approximately 1991. Our houses were on wheels that we removed and installed as needed. I recall having 16 cats, four or three dogs (that’s Cajun for three or four), 20-something chickens, six horses, a mule, a dozen box turtles, a squirrel or two, a baby gator, a deer and whatever other creature I managed to catch and drag home while in the woods.

I ran a trap-line and fished the bar-pits. Night or day, it didn’t matter. I was free to come and go as I pleased. I had 36 No. 1.5 Victor traps used to trap coons, bobcats, coyotes and possums (that’s opossums to the Yankees). A pet fox I dug out of a den ran here and there, not in a cage. I bottle fed that fox for months. Its mom had dug a huge hole in the bean field, and we had to fill it in. The baby fox had yet to open its eyes, and when its eyes did open, it saw me. I was the only one that could touch it.

Fishing back then was so simple. My equipment consisted of one old 5500c Garcia reel attached to an old Lews Speed Stick with a Mr. Hooty spinner bait on my line, with one in my pocket for backup. When that didn’t work I had a bag of purple plastic worms and some Rooster Spur hooks.

If I gathered and weighed my tackle now, I figure it’s somewhere near a half ton of accumulated soft plastics, numerous samples sent from dozens of companies that no longer exist, probably 30 rods and 36 reels and countless hard baits, hooks, sinkers and jigs. It is mind boggling at the amount tackle I own.

I have one store room full of tackle that I may not even visit for months on end. That room holds lures, rods and reels from yesteryear. I went in there last night for the first time in a long time. I began digging around to see if there was anything I might need for the tournament this weekend, just like my dad used to do.

As usual I got caught up looking at dozens of old, well-worn, battle-scarred lures and thinking of the stories behind those lures and completely forgot what I was doing. Winter fishing is in my blood.

As sharecroppers we would harvest the crops in October, put the farm equipment away and head to the water and woods. Dad never liked to hunt that much. Looking back, I now understand the only reason he hunted was to teach my brother and me about the woods. Once we were old enough, we were on our own, and he was “gone fishing.”

As the years passed, I gave up hunting and did the same. I fish year-round. The winter holidays bring back so many memories. I lost my dad Dec. 1, 1986. He died way too young at 56. I have a 29-year-old daughter that faintly remembers him. I have a 27-year-old son that does not remember him. I have a 12-year-old daughter that asks many questions about him. It breaks my heart.

We have nine grandchildren, and I wish he was still here to enjoy all this.

By the way Dad, Stacy (my wife) is expecting. We’ll have a little fishing with Eddie in July, or maybe it will be an E-D-D-e-e. Some think we’re crazy — we don’t. I’m about to be 54 years old with a new baby. Life is good! We miss you Dad.


Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Democrat. He can be reached at