There’s nothing better than Mom, a 14-foot jon boat and fish for supper

My mom didn’t have an easy life. Most people born in 1919 didn’t. 

But in her nearly 90 years on this earth, I hardly ever saw Frances Haddox when she didn’t find enjoyment in her toil, whatever it was on that day. I know she found enjoyment in eating because she was a great cook and did her best to help teach me that as well. She enjoyed her favorite drinks — sweet tea, her extra high carb double sugar lemonade and Dr. Pepper.

She would drink a Dr. Pepper just about anytime. She was not as structured as my dad, who would look at his watch when asked if he wanted one, making sure it was either 10, 2 or 4.

Mom loved to fish. She even loved it when I got to fish, because she also loved to eat fish. Mother’s Day was May 8 and I often wish I could tell her “Happy Mother’s Day” again or hear her whoop and holler when she caught a fish. It was even fun when she saw me bring home a mess of fish, responding with, “Whoooo. Look at those. Get the grease hot.”

She didn’t have a lot of material possessions, but she was always a lady and made the most of what she had. Even though she’s been gone for years, I still smile on a regular basis thinking about what she would have said or done. She lives on in our memories and it is so awesome to see a bit of her pop up in my daughter and granddaughters.

Letting her hair down

But hey, she did let her hair down, not worry about messing up her hair “permanent” and, as I mentioned, whooped and hollered on occasion. Rarely mind you, but on occasion. Most of those occasions were out in a 14-foot aluminum Duracraft fishing boat. As an only child, I spent many a day in the back of that boat, running the three-horse Evinrude with Mom in the middle and Dad up front with the custom wooden paddle he made himself in the woodshop class he taught. Mom had her own cane pole and nobody fished with it but her. If you did, somehow she knew. The Ouachita River. Lake D’Arbonne. Gassoway. Even Toledo Bend. They all got to see the show.

One day Mom and Dad were fishing at Toledo Bend with their boat tied to the same snag as another boat holding her friends, Nan and O.B. Copeland. They were fishing for white perch. We didn’t know what a crappie was in those days and hadn’t fished far enough south to catch a sac-a-lait. In those early days, you could tie up to one spot on Toledo and run out of shiners catching big old white perch. Mom and O.B. both got a bite at about the same time. After a good fight they both pulled up their fish. The same fish. One fish. Two hooks in it’s mouth. Mom was notorious for not paying attention to her cork and apparently the fish hit her shiner, got hooked, swam around a minute and then hit O.B.’s. They caught the same fish. I can only imagine the “enjoyment” that was going on at that point. And no, I don’t know who kept the fish, but I have a pretty good idea. If you had a couple more years to read, I’d share more.

Learning the hard way

We had some learning experiences as well. Like the time we got caught on the wrong side of Lake D’Arbonne in that 14-foot aluminum boat and a storm came up. We were lucky that the whitecaps didn’t sink us. It was Mom who was the first to suggest, when our feet were planted securely on the bank, that we were going to need a bigger boat.

She also bailed me out one time when we went camping and I forgot to get the center pole for the tent. She had only reminded me about six times. She went into the woods and found a small sapling that was just the right size and got Dad to whack it down. It was a good substitute.

We often write about dads who teach us to fish and love the outdoors. Mine did that, too. But I really think that finding enjoyment in that toil for me mostly came from my mom — like my enjoyment of fishing, good food and Dr. Pepper. She even hollered at a referee or umpire now and then. I might have picked that up as well. 

There’s a Bible verse that reminds me of why she enjoyed fishing and the good and bad of life so much. It’s important. 

“There is nothing better for a person than that they should eat and drink and find enjoyment in their toil. This also is from the hand of God, for apart from Him who can have enjoyment?”

— Ecclesiastes 2:24

I’m not even sad today, because I know she was from the hand of God and she’s with Him today. And she had loads of enjoyment on this earth.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. And also to all you other moms out there, especially my wife, DiAnne, who lets me whoop and holler and find enjoyment in my toil, especially outdoors.

I know I’m not the only one with a story like this about a mom who went the extra mile to help her children love fishing, hunting, birdwatching, boating or just any outdoor activity. If your mom is still around and she fits that bill, make sure and let her know how important it is.

Today I tip my fishing hat to each and every one of you, past and present. And to encourage those moms who will do this in the future as well. Sometimes the best things we give are the things we leave behind.

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.