Famed tackle store still serves fishermen’s needs
Cooter’s has been part of Union Parish almost as long as Lake D’Arbonne itself. It’s hard to imagine anyone fishing there the past 50 years not stopping by Cooter’s Bait & Tackle to get shiners, crickets, worms, a fishing report and a Dr. Pepper from former owner Cooter Anderson.
I used to see Cooter every week most of the year to fill my shiner bucket or cricket box. Unfortunately, Cooter passed away in April, 2022, but the store and his legacy lives on. Fortunately, the store still serves area fishermen in the capable hands of the Cobb family. They have remodeled, totally restocked and added numerous features.
Today, Cooter’s offers all the staples that fishermen need from bait and tackle to goodies like food supplies, t-shirts and caps and more. The store focuses a lot on crappie baits because that is what most anglers come to Lake D’Arbonne for. But bream, catfish and bass fishermen find plenty of gear here, too. And, frankly, it’s just nice to step back inside a little piece of fishing history.
Cooter got into the Sports Center business by accident. He was working in the oilfield business and jobs were scarce. He had three choices: go overseas, work in Alaska or find something else. So he bought a bait stand. He had no business plan, no idea of how to run the business, but just the desire for a job.
“The first day we opened in business, I brought in $65 and boy, I thought I had messed up,” he said. “I was expecting a lot more than that.”
One day I stopped in for a bucket of crickets, four little bream corks and just dropped them in the cricket box so I wouldn’t lose them. I told him I had to get home and get them out of there, because the crickets would chew on that styrofoam and ruin the corks if they got hungry. He laughed and told me he usually keeps small potatoes cut in half in his giant cricket bin to feed the crickets. Then he gave me the tip of the week.
“I ran out of potatoes a few days back and we had some overripe bananas at the house, so I grabbed them and put them in there. The next day, they were gone,” he said. “Crickets love bananas. I had a fellow tell me that years ago. He said put a banana in your cricket box the night before you go fishing and they’ll eat it. Not only will it keep them plump and juicy, you’ll catch more bream than anybody else.”
One of the other famous spots is the Honey Hole in West Monroe, owned and operated by David Owens. This one-stop fishing spot was originally owned by legendary Bobby Phillips and carries just about every kind of bait on the market for crappie fishermen and bass and bream anglers. There’s an old table in the back where fishermen gather and tell tales about the one that got away. Lake D’Arbonne anglers are fortunate to have a second option there in K&M Coffee, Corks and Camo in Farmerville. The store hasn’t been there as long as the others, but has quickly become a go-to stop for fishing gear and food. In fact, they probably sell about as many hamburgers as they do crickets. Owners Kenny and Marcy Kavanaugh work hard to meet the needs of fishermen, hungry or not. Yucatan Landing near Newellton is a spot you’ve got to be looking for to find. Located on Yucatan Lake, this old oxbow area is awesome to fish and open most of the year, when the Mississippi River backwater allows.