Billy Billeaud fishes 50 to 60 days a year — all for bass, except for bream excursions he and his wife Michele have begun making to Toledo Bend Reservoir, where they have a camp.
The Lafayette resident and Broussard native was one of seven kids, four of whom were boys. His dad Louis (the first T-Coon) used to take all four boys fishing at once, usually in Bayou Benoit in the Basin.
“It was probably a cluster for him,” Billeaud said with a fond grin. “But it was an adventure for me at 8 or 9 years old.
“Sometimes it’s a challenge for me with my two sons. You know. Kids are always fighting. It was mostly bream and sac-a-lait fishing. Lots of times we would fill up the ice chest.”
Two of the four brothers grew up to be casual fishermen. Louis and Ricky fish maybe 10 times a year by Billy’s reckoning.
“But David (also known as T-Coon and one of 14 great speckled trout fishermen featured in the book “Trout Masters: How Louisiana’s Best Anglers Catch the Lunkers”) and I are the fanatics — obsessive,” Billeaud said
When asked what he meant, the angler fumbled for words.
“Obsessive — I don’t know,” he said. “I didn’t even hunt so that I could fish more. We fished everything when I was young: bass, bream, sac-a-lait, catfish — it didn’t matter.
“The bass thing for me probably started in college. I went to a friend’s camp on Toledo Bend and I learned to cast a casting reel.”
Now, Billeaud is a ferocious competitor, competing in any open tournament.
In 2015, he fished in the six-event FLW Tour as a co-angler.
“That means I fished in the same boat as a pro,” Billeaud said. “The pros compete with each other, and the co-anglers compete against each other.”
He also fished the Media Bass Tournament Trail.
“These are serious amateurs: 50 to 70 boats per event,” he said. “You put up an entry fee and fish for the payout. There are six of these a year.”
And Billeaud has racked up some notches. His biggest check was for a first-place finish worth $10,000. Twice he has won $5,000 for second-place finishes. He also has won a truck and three boats, and has “quite a few” winnings over $2,000.
As much as he bass fishes, the angler is even better known for owning Billeaud’s Meat & Grocery store in Broussard. The store originally belonged to his father, who built it when Billy was 10 years old.
“I was supervisor of a fast-food restaurant when my dad developed cancer and died within a year,” he said. “When he owned (the grocery store), it wasn’t a Cajun meat specialty store. In 1990, the store was in trouble.
“The day I walked in, I owed a lot of money. I made a deal with my mother that ended up with my purchasing it.”
Billeaud added a Cajun meat specialty line that really made the store a destination rather than just a neighborhood grocery.
The store is most famous for its boudin and cracklings.
He describes his distinctive boudin as “a little meatier (less rice) and less greasy (less fat)” than most versions.
The store also is known for its stuffed turkey wings, stuffed pork chops, stuffed mini pork roasts and jalapeño chicken burgers.
On the day he turned up to fish at the Basin, Billeaud was wearing a bright-blue long-sleeve T-shirt emblazoned with the store’s motto: “Don’t boo-day; eat boudin.”
As for this hyper-competitive man’s relationship with his equally competitive brother David, they are quite close.
“I kind of like it that he fishes trout and not bass,” Billy Billeaud said. “He is relentless, and I don’t have to compete with him.
“We both hunt deer on family property. He’s there all the time and has the potential to kill all my deer. He’s relentless. He’s a gun hunter and can shoot them in the ear at 200 yards; I’m a bow hunter.”
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