Lake Fausse Point, Louisiana

August 30th, 2003

Murphy Was a Fisherman
By Roger Emile Stouff

It started out humbly enough. I'd get up early, be on the lake by dawn, fish until the heat became overbearing, and head on home.

The attendant at the boat landing near my home had called on Thursday.

"They're tearing 'em up right here!" he said. "Right off the landing, in the trees! Big goggle-eye and chinquapin!"

Of course, there was no need to say more. The words "goggle-eye" and "chinquapin" coupled with that most wonderful of adjectives, "big", was enough to set me into gear. I was already envisioning a fish fry, particularly for my mom. My mom will get in a fight with a circular saw for fried goggle-eye.

Friday night, my gal and I met up with another couple at the lounge in the casino, and I admit to a very slight overindulgence in the firewater. I find it somehow amusing that the Indians are now giving away firewater for free to those actively gambling at the casino, but that's neither here nor there. We weren't gambling, anyway, never do. But we do like the lounge.

At 5:30 a.m. Saturday, the point is, I felt just a tad ragged, but not too badly to get going.

The landing is less than two miles from home, and when I arrived there with the boat, I was dismayed to see that water lilies had covered it for yards and yards out over the lake, except for one spot just big enough to launch two boats side by side.

I paid my three dollars, and dropped the boat into the lake. But upon trying to pull the trailer out of the water, it refused to budge.

The truck was spinning wheels. It's not a big truck, but it's a full-size Chevy with a Vortech V-6. Still, the trailer wouldn't come out. Another angler came by to help, jumping on the back bumper of the truck to help gain traction, but still no-go.

"It's probably stuck on a dropoff," he said. "May have to pick up the back of it to get the tires rolling."

Dismal, I waded out to the back of the trailer while he got behind the wheel of my truck. He gunned it, spinning up white smoke from my tires, and I picked up on the trailer. No cigar.

Finally, the attendant came with his little truck, we hooked up a chain to mine, and he pulled.

The trailer emerged from the water at last, then stopped midway. There was a length of one-inch pipe gone under the frame and out, then around the axle, disappearing somewhere in the water behind the trailer. Me and the kind person who was helping me both had to use a lot of muscle to bend it enough to get the trailer to slip out.

The attendant swore he'd have it removed. I figured I was done with the whole sordid business and took off in the boat, soaked up to the waist, but determined to go fishing...

Sure enough, just along the lilies near the southwest bank of Grande Lake, the goggle-eye and the chinquapin were simply falling head-over-heels in love with a chartreuse and black Jitterbee under a VOSI, the venerable Vertically Oriented Strike Indicator. My four-weight rod made the experience even more wonderful.

Until I touched the foot control of the trolling motor.

Already there were five nice fish in the livewell, and I could see my mom's grinning face at supper. But then I touched the foot control of the trolling motor to move the boat a bit farther down the line of lilies, and WHACK!

The motor began dancing a jig, gyrating and jumping all over. I knew what that meant, but I had to lift the motor up just to be sure. I was sure. One blade was completely broken off.

End of fishing trip. I do not paddle 18' fiberglass Cajun bass boats with V-6 Johnson outboards around, sorry.

The fish come out of the livewell, back in the water. Back to the landing. This time, I back the trailer down on the opposite side of the narrow slot between the lillies, then bring the boat on.

Of course, the trailer refused to come out of the water.

I am passed annoyed now. I am rapidly approaching ballistic.

The attendant comes with his truck and chain again, but this time, with the weight of the Cajun on the trailer, she ain't budging.

He's a good fellow, the attendant. We talk a lot, tell jokes. But he's confused and embarassed, as I am.

"We pulled that pipe out of the water while you were gone," he said. "I'll be durned if I know what's got you now. Nobody ever gets stuck here. I've never seen it."

Figures. Leave it to me to break a record.

So he gets his big farm tractor, and we try pulling the truck, boat and trailer out with that. Nope, ain't happening.

"What will you give me to leave it here?" I asked. "Make it kind of a landmark. Something to remember me by."

About that time, another fisherman comes by and offers to try pulling me out with his four-wheel drive truck. I agree, and we give it a shot. This does the trick, and I am at last safely on the hard surface.

I look at the trailer, and the axle is covered with clamshell, the material the boat landing is surfaced from. There is, apparently, a ledge out there which the axle of the trailer fell over, and it took quite a bit of effort to pull it up.

I thank the folks who helped me and head home, then spend an hour hosing down the truck and the boat, which are covered with a gooey mess comprised of mud, clamshell fragments, sodden water lilies and other debris. Then I go take a nap.

Monday I ordered two new props for the trolling motor, one as a spare to keep in the boat along with a nine-sixteenths wrench. Meanwhile, I'm hearing folks all over talking about fishing last weekend.

"The basin is hot!" they say. "It's smoking! Just throw a line out, the fish are everywhere! They're jumping in the boat! They're throwing themselves on the fillet table!"

My new props should come in Friday. Should. The way my luck has been going, I'm doubtful. Even if they do arrive, I'm awaiting the next calamity with a sense of dread.

Murphy was a fisherman. I guarantee it. ~ Roger


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