Fish Licker

Nothing makes a day fishing better than taking along man’s best friend

There are many reasons why dogs are called “man’s best friend.” At the top of the list is that some canine companions make great fishing buddies.

Hunting with dogs has always been extremely popular. The phrase “man’s best friend” actually originated in the American Supreme Court in 1870 when a lawyer named George Graham Vest defended a man who deeply loved his coon hound named Old Drum. When a neighbor shot Old Drum for being on his land, Vest argued that the life taken was much more than a pet.

“The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world — the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous — is his dog,” Vest said, thus dogs became man’s best friend.

Today, many anglers feel the same way and don’t even go out in the boat without their dog. Dogs are sometimes even better than human companions, for several reasons.

Ghost looks for good spots to go fishing.

A dog will never give you a hard time about catching a little fish, missing a fish…or not even catching a fish at all. They’ll help celebrate landing a fish. And really special canine fishing companions will even help you pick out a spot to fish.

They’ll never tell

A dog is a fishing partner that won’t ever ask you to go home before you are ready. And most important of all, your tail-wagging fishing friend will never, ever tell anybody where your good spots are.

“Yes, those are all true,” said Kenny Kavanaugh of Farmerville with a laugh. “Dogs are good companions in the boat and they certainly keep things lively most of the time. Some dogs are quiet, while others will bark when they see another boat. I’ve got one of the most unlikely dog fishing buddies and I can’t go anywhere without him.”

Kenny Kavanaugh and Ghost, a.k.a. “Fish Licker,” on a recent fishing trip.

Kavanaugh and his wife, Marcy, are operators of K&M Coffee, Corks and Camo, formerly a full-service sporting goods store and now a cafe on Lake D’Arbonne in Union Parish.

Kavanaugh knows because of his love for fishing, especially for big white perch (sac-a-lait) and going with his dog, Ghost. It wasn’t planned.

Ghost has a most unusual story. Someone abandoned him as an older puppy and Kavanaugh’s son picked him up. His son had never had his own dog before and talked his parents into keeping the dog.

“We said it was okay and gave him the speech about taking care of him, feeding him, etc. etc.,” Kavanaugh said. “That lasted about two weeks and then he became my dog.”

Kavanaugh hasn’t regretted it and Ghost has become somewhat of a celebrity, nicknamed “Fish Licker” with his own Facebook page and line of apparel.

“We took him to the vet and found that he is completely deaf,” Kavanaugh said. “He also has severe separation anxiety and likes to go where I go. If I get in the boat, he’s going with me.”

Quick learner

Ghost’s love of fishing developed quickly.

A fishing towel from the Fish Licker apparel line.

“Oh man, the first time I caught a fish, I tossed it to the livewell and I missed,” Kavanaugh said. “Ghost jumped down and went back there and started barking at it. When he figured out it wouldn’t hurt him, he figured he would just lick it real good. Since then, he’s had to lick every fish I caught.”

On occasion, Kavanaugh gets in a hurry and tosses the fish in the livewell without giving Fish Licker his chance.

“He has been known to growl and bite me on the leg if I don’t let him lick the fish,” Kavanaugh said. “When I set the hook on a fish, he comes to attention and is right up there beside me. If I miss a fish, he just stares at me like I’ve lost my mind. And he always lets you know when somebody is getting too close or has another puppy in the boat with them. He, or both of the dogs involved, will let you know with loud barking.”

He’s my buddy

Kavanaugh said after sharing some of their adventures on social media, people started taking pictures of them on the lake and he then shared them on social media, eventually setting up a Fish Licker Facebook page and a separate page for sharing Fish Licker fishing towels and t-shirts.

The Fish Licker burger comes with candied jalapenos, macaroni, bacon and onion rings.

“I’ve heard from a lot of people that take their dogs and the fishing trip isn’t the same without them, they tell me,” he said. “I understand. I take him with me now because he’s my buddy and he absolutely lives to go fishing. And he loves licking the fish.”

Ghost is usually pretty calm on the water, but when Kavanaugh starts easing over to the D’Arbonne Diner on the lake, Ghost knows lunch is coming and he gets pretty fired up.  They would eat there just about every Friday and while Kavanaugh and his friends had their food, the ladies there would fix him a cheeseburger and bring him a bowl of water.

That led to Ghost having his own menu item back at K&M:  The Fish Licker Burger. It sounds like a bit much, but Kavanaugh said it’s a popular item. It comes in single or double meat with candied jalapenos, macaroni, bacon, onion rings and all the other typical fixings.

Ghost is four years old now and not as rambunctious as he used to be. In fact, he takes a lot of naps now, especially when fishing is slow. Some folks that know Kavanaugh aren’t so sure he doesn’t, too.

But when the boat cranks up, Ghost often rides up in the front, looking for prime fishing spots. Sometimes when Kavanaugh rides by a good looking spot, Ghost will turn around and look at him like, “Why aren’t we going to try it here?”

About Kinny Haddox 592 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.