The year was 1977. Mike Wood was 19 and living in West Monroe. Lake D’Arbonne was 14 and living in Farmerville.
“One of the things that always sticks out in my mind about D’Arbonne was when I was in high school,” Mike says. “I started bass fishing and thought I was pretty good. That was until I found out what folks could do on D’Arbonne. I joined the Ouachita Bass Club and our first tournament was in February. It was 40 degrees and raining sideways. I hadn’t fished but a few minutes when I caught a whopper. I just knew I was going to win that tournament.”
Mike even remembers what he caught the fish on. “It was a black Stanley jig with an Uncle Josh #11 pork frog trailer. At the time, my total cold weather fishing experience came from reading magazines like BASSMasters and Outdoor Life. I knew that bait was just about the only thing bass would hit in wintertime.”
Truth is, it ended up being the only fish that he and his partner, Rick Craig, caught that day. Considering the conditions, he was proud of the one fish. Until he went to the weigh in.
“At the weigh in, they were literally dragging strings of big bass up to the scales,” he recalls. “That’s when I found out how not so good I was and how really good Lake D’Arbonne was. I’ve loved that lake ever since.”
That’s a good thing. Because Mike went on to major in biology at Northeast (now ULM) and he even wormed his way into a cushy student job with the Wildlife and Fisheries in 1978 where he spent most of his working hours netting, electroshocking and studying fish from Lake D’Arbonne. From there, he went on to a full-time fisheries career that has spanned more than 30 years and is still going. He is currently at the top of his field as Director of Inland Fisheries for the LDWF in Baton Rouge, overseeing all the freshwater fisheries management in the state.
He will be a special guest of the Lake D’Arbonne Country Sportsman’s Expo Saturday from 11a.m. – 1 p.m. and you can find him at the lakedarbonnelife.com booth at the event. Come by and visit with him and share some stories. And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to tell him THANK YOU for all the effort he has put into ensuring that Lake D’Arbonne could be the best she could be as we celebrate the 50th Birthday of the big lake. The lake hath no better friend in high places, I can guarantee you that!
The Expo runs from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. with events all day. It’s $5 a head for adults and youth under 12 are admitted FREE. You can check the times and full schedule out at http://www.darbonne-sportsmans-expo.com/