The thrashing dinosaur was yanked out of the water, flew high over the lanky man’s head and landed with a thud in the tall weeds. It immediately began slithering through the wet grass back toward the weedy canal.

Mike Lirette wasted no time in straddling it on his knees and holding its slimy body in a mortal lock. With the fish under control, he held it up for my inspection. In the background, his nephew Dale Lirette looked on approvingly.

“Every chance I get, I go choupique,” he boomed. “I love to eat them; I love to catch them.

“My wife loves to fish choupique. I got three girls and a boy and they all choupique.” 

The choupique (pronounced shoe-pick) he was referring to is the same creature that biologists call “bowfin” and North Louisianans call “grinnel.” Bass fishermen loathe them, too often slamming the hook home on what they think is a tournament-winning fish, only to find that the ferocious fight is being delivered by a lowly choupique.

Mike chuckled at their prejudices. “I find choupique is a tender fish to eat. It’s easy to clean. You got more meat on a choupique than any other fish.”

“But you got to keep them alive until you clean them,” chimed in Dale. “If they die they get mushy — oh lord yeah. They get mushy like a white trout.”

The two men traveled to their fishing spot, a drainage canal on the backside of Lafourche Crossing on the Highway 308 side of Bayou Lafourche, by pickup truck. This canal in turn tied into the 60 Arpent Canal

It didn’t look like much. It was maybe 20 feet wide, and while patches