It was black on the water. Of course, it was midnight.

We sat as quiet as death in Sidney Haynes’ 17-foot aluminum SeaArk boat. In the distance, automobile headlights flitted busily through New Roads, perched hard on the shores of False River, the big oxbow lake of Pointe Coupee Parish.

Where were all the people going? What were they thinking? Could they know we were peeping at them from the lake’s darkness?

Haynes’ lighter sparked. 

As he took a hard drag on his cigarette, I could see the outlines of his craggy outdoorsman’s face. His younger partner and brother-in-law, 43-year-old Christopher Guillaume, followed his lead and lit one of his own.

After a few minutes of silence, Haynes softly spoke, “I guess it’s getting time to go check the juglines.” 

We were hunting catfish, Haynes’ specialty — and nighttime is the right time for catfish.

We met several hours before dark at the boat launch in Ventress. The pair wanted to work the canals in that end of the lake to catch more bream for cut bait. Both were using spincast reels to flip small earthworm-baited hooks under corks to the shallows near the canal’s banks.

Guillaume was a fishing machine, flipping bream after bream in the boat. “He’s really catching ‘em,” observed Haynes lackadaisically. “That’s OK. My time is coming after dark when I put my jugs out.”

The plan was to set the jug lines out right at dusk.