This is an outdoor column, so let's start off with an outdoors event that takes place on the water: the Amite River Christmas on the Bayou.

I don't know if it's something in the air, in the water or just exactly what it is. But I think the Spirit of Christmas bug has bitten more than its fair share of folks very early this year.

I'm not talking about the stores that began to hype Christmas before Halloween (although they did) which seems to be the earliest ever. I'm talking about just regular folks that couldn't hardly wait to put up their Christmas tree.

This is an outdoor column, so let's start off with an outdoors event that takes place on the water: the Amite River Christmas on the Bayou. So you can just make your plans to come and join us for our annual Christmas Boat Parade on December 7 that begins at dusk.

It will start on Chinquapin Canal where the camps/house start. The route is about three miles along Highway 22 and ends at Manny's on the Amite River. The boat parade will make two stops along the route with the first one being Reds Restaurant where Santa will get off for pictures and hand out stockings to all the kids.

Stop number two and the end of the parade route is Manny's where Santa will depart his water sleigh with his normal Ho, Ho, Ho and reward the kids there with stockings. If you believe hard enough you might just see Santa take off in the sky heading back to the North Pole.

So you could view the parade from anywhere along the parade route on Hwy 22. There are plenty of open spots. The best spots, especially if you have kids is to park at either Red's or Manny's. Mr. Manny blocks off an area for the kids that doesn't interfere with the bar. Anywhere between the beginning and the end people will be able to see the parade.

The group is also looking for boats to participate in the parade. It's super easy at $25 per boat. Just decorate your boat (doesn't have to be fancy) and join in. That's it. Registration will be that Saturday morning - December 7 starting at 9 a.m. at Manny's. Drivers will meet up across from Val's at 4:30 p.m. that afternoon and parade starts at dusk. Spread the word to everyone.

As many of you know Christmas On the Bayou has become more than just a parade. The organization is very committed to giving back to the children of our community. At this time they are sponsoring a shoe drive from November 13- November 27. If anyone would like to donate with a monetary donation or a new pair of school appropriate tennis shoes please let us know.

Please contact Angela Posey Hebert at 225-717-8350, Nicole Edmonston Bell at 225-910-1213 or Jodi Lynn Stickell Vicknair at 225-717-8973. For more information, Amite River Christmas on the Bayou has a Facebook page.

It's getting the time of the year for the stocking of rainbow trout in the pond at Lamar Dixon. In mid-December the Ascension Parish Recreation Department will load the pond at Lamar Dixon Expo Center with rainbow trout.

This will be the sixth year this has taken place. In 2013, over 1100 trout were placed in the pond in late December. Each year the number increases as the program gains in popularity.

Last year this effort was very successful as rainbow trout are very hardy, aggressive and somewhat easy to catch compared to other species. Rainbow trout need cold water to survive, hence the release in December.

They will stay alive until the water reaches 70 degrees. The warmer water causes stress and they usually die because of the heat. The fish will be catchable until late April or early May if the cool weather stays around. Anglers are encouraged to keep their catch since they don't survive to reproduce.

Like I said earlier, they are aggressive and easy to catch lots of ways. One of the easiest methods is to take a #4 or #6 hook tied to the end of your line on a spin cast or spinning reel and rod combo. Since there is no current in the pond, a couple of split shot weights crimped about 8" above the hook will get the bait to the bottom just fine.

Two or three (3) pieces of canned corn is one bait that works very well. Small, white marshmallows or the colored (pink or green) ones are another top choice. Packaged, colored egg type baits in a jar work very good as well. Throw the baited hook 25 or 30' from the bank and let it go to the bottom and just let it sit until one takes the bait. Set the hook and get ready for a fun fight and some spectacular jumping as rainbow trout like to jump out of the water.

Another good method is an in-line spinner, (aka Mepp's) in the 3/16th or 1/8th-ounce size. A small gold or silver spinner is attached to the lure, but gold is my favorite color. Use the lure on a light spin cast or spinning reel with 6 or 8 lb test line. Fan cast the lure from one location on the bank and use a slow to medium retrieve so the lure can sink down from 2 to 4 ft.

Use both of these methods to double your chances. Cut a 24" branch from a tree with a fork on the end. After driving the branch into the ground then cast the rod with the hook and sinker out and set it in the fork. Use the rod with the artificial bait to cast all around the area while keeping an eye on the other rig. These methods are very simple to accomplish and will usually give you all the action you can handle.

Not to mention, this is a great way to introduce a kid to fishing or take your kids on a nice outing to the pond at Lamar Dixon. The walkways are paved. There are nice, clean restrooms and even a spot for a picnic lunch. So until next time, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. 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 reelman@eatel.net.



Outdoor Calendar

EASL Monthly Meeting: 3rd 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.

Squirrel & Rabbit Season: Oct. 5-Feb. 29, open statewide on private lands only. Daily bag limit 8 and possession limit 24.

Hunting Seasons: Ducks: Nov. 16-Dec. 8, West Waterfowl Zone. Ducks: Nov. 23-Dec. 8, East Waterfowl Zone. Deer/Modern Firearms: Nov. 16-Dec. 6, State Deer Areas 1, 4, 6, still-hunt only. Nov. 16-Dec. 6, State Deer Area 5, still-hunt only & bucks only except Nov. 29-Dec. 1 either-sex weekend. Nov. 16-Dec. 6, State Deer Area 9, still-hunt only & bucks only except Nov. 16-17 & Nov. 29-Dec. 1 either-sex weekends.

Open Recreational Offshore Fishing Seasons: Red snapper weekends only, including Monday, Nov.11 (Veterans Day) until further notice; and, all groupers except closed for the take of goliath & Nassau groupers in state/federal waters.

Amite River Christmas on the Bayou: Dec. 7 starting at dusk traveling from Chinquapin Canal stopping at Red's and Manny's—Santa will hand out stockings to kids at both spots. Decorate and enter your boat for $25; all info on Facebook page. Amite River Christmas on the Bayou.

Need an event publicized? Contact Lyle at reelman@eatel.net