Jerry Lyle Johnson was my dad and was considered a way above average fisherman. We had eight kids in our family so some of his enthusiasm for fishing came from a need to provide food for our table.
This past Sunday Father's Day was celebrated across our nation. My daughter, Kaycee was coming home for the weekend to spend some time with us. She called a few days before her arrival and asked me a question, "Would you take me fishing for Father's Day?"
That might sound like an unusual request to most, as the children normally ask if there's something we would like or how they could serve us in some way. But it wasn't.
Jerry Lyle Johnson was my dad and was considered a way above average fisherman. We had eight kids in our family so some of his enthusiasm for fishing came from a need to provide food for our table. He loved providing for our family, but his skill at bass fishing was known near and far.
"Jerry Lyle can catch a bass in a damp dish rag" was one of the quotes attributed to his prowess for the knack of catching bass. All of us kids heard that more than once or twice. Both of my grandfathers liked to fish as well, but panfish were more in their wheel house.
My dad spent much time with his six boys in the outdoors that paid off in great dividends. I can still see that wooden flat that he built with a 7.5hp Evinrude heading down the 21" canal in the Spillway with a baby "Lucky 13" tied on the end of my line. I can see it hitting the water in the corner of the many sloughs, then the "chug, chug," then the explosion of a bass trying to engulf that bait.
I had the privilege of being his son for 48 years and the pleasure of his company on many outdoor trips. He took me and my seven brothers and sisters fishing, hunting, and camping. He had great influence on his children and grandchildren in introducing them to the outdoor world.
One of the things he enjoyed later in his life was watching the progress his kids and grandkids made in learning their fishing skills. The transition from being the one with the skills to the one relishing the skills of those behind him became very noticeable for me.
So just as he passed on his passion for the outdoors and fishing to his kids, I've had the opportunity to do the same. My three kids have grown up benefitting from Paw Paw Jerry's skills as they learned from their dad. Now they have two kids each, so I have six grandchildren that I have the privilege of passing on some of that passion to.
Kaycee asking me to take her fishing was just about one of the best Father's Day presents I could have ever thought up on my own. I was counting down the days, looking forward to Saturday morning with her on my side heading up the Diversion to the Amite River.
Next to the time we would enjoy together was my desire for her to catch a bass or two. It had been a while since she had been bass fishing so I didn't want her to strike out or be disappointed if the fish didn't cooperate, which is always a possibility.
I certainly didn't want this trip to turn out like a previous trip we made when she came home on leave from her time in the United States Air Force. My brother Bret joined us that day so that made three anglers in the boat.
Kaycee was in the middle, and I lost my concentration long enough to make a cast that was a little too close for comfort. One of the nine hooks on the top water bait I was using made its way into her scalp past the barb.
I felt so terrible about hitting her in the head with the bait and the possibility of ending the trip way too early. So after getting the hook separated from the bait I gave her the option of heading to the emergency room or toughing the pain out and spend a little more time together on the water. She chose to stay fishing.
After launching the boat on Friday I made a couple of stops to check things out and caught one bass and had another break off so the possibility of catching a few was pretty good. Our first two stops on Saturday morning didn't yield a bite. The third spot we were going to fish had another angler anchored fishing for catfish. Things weren't going quite as expected.
I had fixed two rods for her, one with a lunker lure and the other with a 6" black grape Zoom finesse worm. At the next spot she started with the lunker lure and after a few minutes switched to the worm. The first cast with the worm produced her first bass of the day. I was one happy dad!
She caught another bass near the end of that stretch of bank, and I purposely didn't switch to the bait that was producing so she would have the best opportunity of catching more. After another spot didn't produce we finally got on a little pattern of catching them in the lily pads.
Oh yeah, after her fourth fish I gave up on the "letting her catch fish" and switched to the worm that produced her fish. She still out-fished me from the back of the boat, catching eight of the thirteen bass we ended up with before stopping around 10:30.
We visited the first spot again where Kaycee caught a nice bass. I told her that was the spot I caught a bass and had one break my line the afternoon before. She actually caught the fish on the exact same lily pad the two fish were.
She hadn't had fried fish in quite a while so we kept a few for her to bring home to Florida. As I was cleaning the fish a large hump was in the stomach of one of them and like any good fisherman I wanted to see what they were feeding on. It had the bait I was using the day before in its belly so she caught the one that broke my line!
I am fortunate to be the proud father of three outstanding kids that have given me six grandchildren. Last Sunday is the day set aside to honor dads everywhere, but it is my honor to have them. Like always, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard, Kaycee sure did! Be safe in the outdoors, and may God truly bless you!
Lyle Johnson is a free-lance writer, co-host of Ascension Outdoors TV and Curator of the Louisiana State Fish Records. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EASL Monthly Meeting: 3 rd Monday every month, East Ascension Sportsman's League meeting held at Gonzales Fire Dept on Orice Roth Rd. starting at 7:00 p.m. A meal served and special speaker will be in attendance.
Wednesday Evening Bass Tourney: Every Wednesday at Canal Bank from 5:00 p.m. until dark. Fee $40/boat, one time registration fee of $40 going toward the Classic Tournament. Weekly event through spring, summer. Call Canal Bank for information. 225 695-9074
CCA Louisiana S.T.A.R. Fishing Rodeo: May 25 thru Sept 2 summer-long CCA Louisiana saltwater fishing event. Tagged Redfish, Offshore, Inshore, Ladies & Children's divisions. Registration required. Must be CCA member. Website: ccastar.com.
South La Highpower Club Match: June 23 @ 8:30 a.m., Ascension Parish Sheriff's Range, St. Landry Road, Gonzales. NRA match rifle or service rifle, 200-yard/50-rounds match course. Fee $12 members, $15 nonmembers, $5 juniors. $15 annual club & Civilian Marksmanship Program membership (allows purchases from CMP). Call George Serrett 225-389-6118. Email: email@example.com.
Wounded War Heroes Fishing Rodeo: June 27 thru 30 @Bridgeside Marina. Founded 4 years ago, 50 of our wounded veterans will take part in this one of a kind, locally founded fishing event. For more info on the rodeo and how you could get involved go to www.woundedwarheroes.org
Golden Meadow/Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo: July 4 thru 6 Registration is $35. Each ticket includes one entry into the rodeo, fishing towel, rodeo book, boiled shrimp dinner, and a chance to win over $15,000 in rodeo awards and door prizes. Go to www.gmfourchontarponrodeo.com for all the info.
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