You think Police Chief Brody on Amity Island in the movie “Jaws” was the first one to say, “You’re going to need a bigger boat“. Nope. True, that statement was made famous in 1975 when Brody spoke them to Quint, the shark hunter, after he saw the massive shark they were chasing.
But I heard those same words years before “Jaws” became a hit. They came from my Mom, right here on Lake D’Arbonne. And that was in 1970.
It’s funny how sometimes we remember details of days like this one. I was a senior in high school and we were camping out on Lake D’Arbonne for several days. We had a 14-foot DuraCraft aluminum boat powered by a whopper 9.8-horsepower Evinrude and two paddles. The boat seemed pretty sturdy and had gotten us out fishing and back dozens and dozens of times. But one day, Dad, Mom and I (yes, I was a lot smaller in those days) were all white perch fishing out of the boat in front of Massingale’s Landing on the big lake. We had an ice chest full of white perch and we didn’t notice a big storm coming until we got
hit by the wind. Soon, big waves were just about to sink us before we could get back in to the landing. We were pretty shaken. In those days there were no bilge pumps, high sides or cell phones to call someone for help. I’ll never forget Mom stepping out of the boat on to the bank pretty quickly, pulling the hood on her rainsuit back and telling Dad in no uncertain terms:
“You’re going to need a bigger boat.”
Sounded good to me. In fact, it was only a few weeks later when we landed at the boat dealer and brought home a shiny new two-tone green Hustler fiberglass bass boat with stick steering, padded seats and even a trolling motor. Wow! A trolling motor. Sweet. And by the way, before you laugh, it was the same year that we had bought our first color TV set – just so we could watch Terry Bradshaw play for Louisiana Tech in the Rice Bowl. No kidding. It was a big year in the Haddox household. Here’s another laugher. We got a bigger motor, too! The boat was powered by a 9.5 Evinrude outboard! They had bigger engines then, but we did most of our fishing on Bussey and there was a 10-horsepower limit on that lake. No kidding, again.
Anyway, back to D’Arbonne. In those days, the lake was so thick with trees that you couldn’t get through it very easily. You sure couldn’t see across it like you can now, even from the hill at Massingale’s. For you young whippersnappers, that was a campground and landing on the east side of the big lake located on the road to the spillway.
Fishing was fantastic in those days. Everywhere you dropped your bait, you could catch bream or white perch. We didn’t bass fish much then, but it was the same for largemouths.
Here’s an interesting fact from some old fish population data published by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in 1972 (yes, I have boxes of old stuff like that). A creel survey in 1969-70 indicated that approximately 120 fish per acre that weighed 81 pounds were caught from the lake. Fish population samples in June 1970 indicated that an average of 99.5 pounds of fish per acre were present and in 1971 the same type survey showed an average of 130 pounds of fish per acre. We DID NEED A BIGGER BOAT!