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Lake life

Wood’s on the water

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Mention the name Mike Wood in freshwater fishing circles in Louisiana, and you’ll more than likely find most people know who he is. As an employee of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for nearly 40 years, he has worked as a student assistant, biologist, fish hatchery manager and finally as the Director of Inland Fisheries for the LDWF. Now Mike has retired to his hometown of West Monroe.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

These days, Mike’s just a fisherman. He’s getting busy reaping the benefits of what he sowed during all those years. He spent his career helping others have better fish populations and better fish habitat. Now he’s going to enjoy more of that for himself.

“I’ve had the opportunity to fish in a lot of places across the state, but most of my favorite lakes to fish are my old home lakes. They are where I learned to fish they hold a lot of memories, he says.”

Among those water bodies are are D’Arbonne, Cheniere Lake, Caney Lake and the Ouachita River.

I have talked to Mike Wood hundreds of times over the past 30 years. I’ve seen him supervising catch and release at big bass tournaments. I’ve stood on the bank and watched him stock fish in area lakes. But recently, I had the chance to do something for the very first time with Mike.

We went fishing. And yes, it was much warmer than it is today, thank you.

If you think it is hard for Mike to put his fisheries management hat on the shelf and just become Joe Fisherman, think again. Mike is a biologist by profession. But when it boils down to it, he’s a fisherman first. That was apparent when a bass tapped my six inch black grape worm and I set the hook, only to reel up an empty hook. No worm. No bass.

“Here. I’ll get him for you,” Mike said, casting his soft plastic critter bait to the same spot where I had just missed the fish. About 15 seconds later, he swung that same hefty four pound largemouth into the boat.

“Here he is,” he said.

Thanks, Mike. We both laughed. That’s what fishing is supposed to be: Fun. We won’t even mention a few minutes later when I caught one about an inch shorter than the worm itself.

“I didn’t even know they had any that small in the lake”, he said. “You must be really good to catch one that small.”

We both caught a bunch of fish and had a great time. I could have expected no less. I’m glad to know he’s enjoying being able to help reap the rewards of what he has helped sow!

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Moving forward, Mike has started a fisheries consulting business, mostly aimed at being an advisor for individuals or groups with private lakes or ponds that need fisheries management. If they need something he doesn’t do, he knows all the people to put those water body owners in touch with where they won’t waste a lot of money. One of the biggest mistakes that people make with smaller ponds and lakes is stocking fish when they aren’t needed or setting slot limits or other self-imposed rules that don’t help the fishing and in some cases, hurt their fish populations. You can get more information from Mike by emailing him at mikewoodservices@gmail.com or by calling him at 318-376-3474.

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