Crappie fishing on Lake D’Arbonne the past few years has attracted a lot of media attention, fishing visitors from all over the country and the biggest crappie tournaments ever held in Louisiana.
Now, it has attracted a newcomer to the lake who is turning fishing into more than fun. He’s trying to make a living at it as a full-time guide. You’d think that the lake’s only full-time guide (that I’m aware of) would be from around here somewhere. Nope.
“I’ve been around crappie fishing forever and when I first fished on Lake D’Arbonne, I knew it was a place I wanted to be,” said 35-year-old Josh Gowan, who recently moved here from Missouri. He first fished here in the 2015 Crappie Masters event. He grew up on a crappie factory, Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee.
“I’ve fished all over the country and I’ve never seen anything close to D’Arbonne. There are a few lakes that have heavier fish, but the average size is just big…and the number of crappie in the lake is just phenomenal!”
Being a fishing guide might sound glamorous, but trust me, it’s hard work. Your day starts before daylight meeting clients and getting out fishing. Catching fish is pretty much mandatory (which rules me out right off the bat). And the wind and weather. Need I say more?
But Josh has an attitude that is very guide-like.
“Every time I go, I expect to catch fish,” he says. “That’s what I want and that’s what I want for my clients.”
At the end of the fishing day, there are rods to re-rig, new baits to tie on, buying shiners, a boat to clean out, batteries to charge, fish to clean and pack…well, you get the picture.
Most of us who live on the lake can’t imagine paying someone to take us fishing. But there are a whole lot of people out there, from amateurs to seasoned anglers, who don’t mind paying to let somebody else do all the work. And when they come here for that, it benefits a lot of people. These visitors spend at least one night, most of the time two, and they eat out, buy gas, fishing licenses, etc.
I was able to share the boat with Josh earlier this week and saw his approach to catching crappie first hand. The conditions were tough and fish were on the move. We started out long lining across some flats. The fish wouldn’t cooperate. Next came several rows of trees, but the cold snap had apparently pulled them off there for a while. A few stops in the deeper channel yielded a catfish and a yellow bass. Most people would have been ready to quit.
Josh just kept going through his fishing playbook and found a little creek close to shallower spawning areas. A few fish showed up on the side scan graph, he marked two areas with buoys and we began working back and forth between them. Thump. Thump. Thump. We were on them.
And suddenly, a cold windy, discouraging afternoon on the water turned warm, sunny and loads of fun.
Josh plans for his guiding to be about about more than just catching fish.
“One of the main things I can do for fishermen is to help teach them new ways to catch fish or locate fish,” says Josh. Spending time fishing in numerous lakes on the crappie tournament trail has taught him a lot. And he doesn’t mind sharing what he’s learned.
“That’s what people have done for me here,” he said. “I am overwhelmed by the people who have offered to help, showed me around and who are supporting me in this effort. It’s been great.”
You can learn more about Josh and his Lake D’Arbonne Crappie Guide Service at:
A one-half day four hour trip for two people costs $250. A full day eight hour trip for two people is $350. For date availability email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 573-579-0212. For fastest response time, email is preferred. Josh also works as a writer and videographer. Josh’s sponsors include B’n’M Poles, CrappieMagnet, EGO Nets, The Silent Stalker, Wilson Outdoors, Navionics, and Hi-Tek Stuff.