Outdoors with Kinny Haddox

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  • Kenny Kavanaugh (left) of K&M Coffee, Corks & Camo, hands a bucket of crickets to a customer. Suppliers have experienced a shortage of crickets recently due to an increase in fishing during the pandemic. Submitted photo
    Kenny Kavanaugh (left) of K&M Coffee, Corks & Camo, hands a bucket of crickets to a customer. Suppliers have experienced a shortage of crickets recently due to an increase in fishing during the pandemic. Submitted photo
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First of all, I’ll start this off by saying that I am very glad to be able to write a monthly outdoor column for the Farmerville Gazette at the request of editor Byron Avery. I think it’s vital for a community like Farmerville to have local news that they can depend on to be fair and accurate. And another great part is to help promote the community.

I love promoting the outdoors and the people who make it great. I’ve been fishing on Lake D’Arbonne since I was a teenager, which was way past 50, accurate and uplifting, whether good or bad. I still have a framed hand drawn map of Lake D’Arbonne from 1960 on my office wall.

Before we go on — let me remind you — this pandemic is still very serious. Take care of yourself and respect others by keeping your distance and following safe practices. You don’t have to hide, but be smart.

Enough “talking shop”, though. Let’s talk fishing.

What a crazy spring. I literally think that if people would not have been able to go fishing this spring, people would have gone crazy. It was one of the busiest springs for fishing all around the state that we’ve ever had. Maybe THE busiest.

Here’s two points of fact that back that up.

Everybody knows there was a shortage of toilet paper this spring with the Covid Virus pandemic. But you know what? There is something else important that we ran out of in Louisiana.

Crickets.

Seriously. From one end of the state to the other, there were so many people fishing that suppliers like K&M Coffee, Corks and Camo ran out of crickets around Easter. Down at the bustling Spillway Sportsman in Port Allen, the same thing happened. In fact, they actually had to RATION CRICKETS to try and keep everybody fishing.

“It was unbelievable,” said Kenny Kavanaugh of K&M. “We normally stock about 20,000 crickets for a weekend (that’s enough to supply 200 fishermen with 100 crickets apiece) and it’s usually plenty. But those sales doubled in April.”

Kenny said he had 25,000 on hand the weekend before Easter, but by Sunday, they had sold out. When the cricket man came in on Monday morning for his regular delivery, there was a line of people waiting with their cricket boxes in hand. “Most of these folks were regular fishermen that we see a lot, but there were many people who haven’t fished in a while,” he said. “They were just looking for something safe to do. Many folks that normally maybe bass or crappie fish were taking their kids on trips. it was a good thing. But I never though we’d run out of crickets.”

“I’ve never seen so many people fishing in my life,” said Darren Hebert, manager of the Spillway Sportsman in Port Allen. “So many people were stuck at home because of the pandemic that in early April, we ran short of crickets and we ran out of crickets. Our distributors were working like crazy to keep us supplied, but they just couldn’t do it. When we started getting them back in, we had to ration them to 100 per customer just so everybody could get some bait. We couldn’t let people hoard the crickets.” Hoarding crickets. That doesn’t sound real, does it?

Here’s more proof:

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries just announced that April purchases of basic fishing licenses and saltwater licenses far exceeded sales for the past three prior years over the same month.

In April, residents purchased 39,702 basic fishing licenses compared to 18,901 in April of 2019 (a 53% increase). In April of 2020, there were 21,000 saltwater licenses sold compared to 13,771 in April of 2019 (a 35% increase).

And here’s an important reminder that things are slowly getting back to normal around here.

Dale Taylor spent a lot of time and thought, and put a lot of prayer into what to do about one of the area’s biggest bass fishing events of the summer. Safety comes first, but fishing is one thing you can do and still social distance yourself, even at a tournament. The winners will have to stand a little bit farther apart for their pictures and the weigh-in line will have to stretch out a bit. Winners may have to get their checks in the mail instead of at an awards ceremony. But the good news for bass fishermen is that the 2020 version of the D’Arbonne Majestic Big Bass Classic will go on. It will be held on June 6, following the guidelines set forth in phase one of the Louisiana state reopening!

“We’ve heard from so many people who want to fish, we wanted to do it if we can,” said Dale Taylor. “We can follow the guidelines and put on a safe tournament and let the guys and gals have a really good time.”

Brochures will be out next week so Dale is asking for fishermen to spread the word. Slight changes to the final awards presentation will be necessary to comply. Contestants will be given details at the time of the event!

Entry fee is $150 per fisherman if you enter the big bass and heavy stringer side pots. It’s $20 less if you just fish for the big bass hourly money. That pays, based on 150 entries, $400, $300, $200 and $100 every two hours for big bass. Overall first place in big bass and have stringer both claim $1,000. There are usually more than 150 entries and prize money goes up accordingly.

For details call Dale Taylor 235-1039

If you love the outdoors and like to keep up with what’s going on around Lake D’Arbonne country, check out my regular website, lakedarbonnelife.com online and also on Facebook. Be safe out there.