I started out commercial fishing for catfish on White Lake in 1972 after leaving the job that four years of college had prepared me for. It goes from feeling blessed to wondering if you are cursed. On paper the numbers never really add up and the economics of it all don’t work, but yet we survive. I attribute it to Divine providence and the special feeling that Jesus has for fishermen. His earthly life was full of doing favors for them. He gave them miraculous catches and calmed the seas when they were sure that they were doomed. He even got them new carriers when they didn’t even know that a job change was what was needed. This is where I seem to be now. On the beach getting the boat in order and waiting for a call to a new direction.
While I started in White Lake, my trips take me all over Southwest Louisiana in search of “my daily bread” which comes in the form of catfish. With a trailer rig I have been in just about every Bayou from Lake Charles to Morgan City. The boat is a twenty feet long welded aluminum boat with a 90hp Mercury on the back. It’s a one man show with lots of solitary confinement or monastic joy depending on the day.
All of our fishing was done with hoop nets that were set with no float for a marker. We counted on natural landmarks if they were nearby or used a GPS in open water. A GPS is a wonderful thing and highly accurate. Just watch the numbers, drop the grab, and boom there they are. When we started they were expensive, but now they are relatively cheap. Garmin makes a good quality GPS.
White Lake is located in Vermilion Parish almost on the Gulf Coast. If the erosion keeps up it will be part of the Gulf in another 100 years. Oil production is ongoing in the Northwestern and Southeastern sections of the lake and sportsmen are rarely seen. Maximum depth is about seven feet and it gets rough as a cob. My father-in-law, the late Harry Rich, used to say that “White Lake makes it’s own weather”. The main commercial catches are catfish, crabs, and shrimp. The nearest community is Pecan Island on the Southeast shore.
For more information on the area the Vermilion Parish Tourist Commission is a great source.