The happiest fishing memories of my life are from when I was a poor, dumb teenager with even less sense than money. But what I had was passion. Lots of it. I fished every chance I got in any lake, bayou, creek or ditch I could find.
Most of that was accomplished in a leaky aluminum boat I carried in the bed of my pickup. It wasn’t easy to manage, but using the strength of youth, I could drag it from my truck to any nearby water, where I’d while away hours searching for anything that would bite.
I think I pulled more fish over that gunwale than any boat I’ve owned since.
I always think of that old boat and style of angling whenever I fish with Joe Lavigne. An Independence, La., native, Lavigne has been fishing the Tangipahoa, Tickfaw and Bogue Chitto rivers since he was too young to get in a PG movie without an accompanying adult.
He does it all in a beat-up 10-foot aluminum flat with a bottom that’s been smoothed to a mirror shine by decades of interaction with river gravel, and though his gear is simple, his results are incredibly impressive.
Lavigne regularly catches his limit, and releases many more than he keeps.
His targets are the spotted bass that infest the rivers and grow powerful traversing the swift currents. Lavigne calls them Kentucky bass, and he catches some legitimate brutes — up to 4 pounds in size.
He invites me to tag along with him every fall, when dry weeks allow the rivers to slow down and drop sediment. This time of year, they’re often as clear as what comes out of your faucet.
That wasn’t quite the case on a trip we took this week, but still, the action was spectacular.
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