Caddo Lake, My Dad and Me

My dad always had the time and patience to take me fishing at a very early age and on through the years as I grew up. We generally went most Saturdays, mainly to Cross Lake at first, a local impoundment near Shreveport, LA. We didn’t have a boat so we would rent one and paddle around usually fishing for bream or crappie, commonly known as white perch locally. Time went by and one day dad brought home a brand new 5.5 hp Johnson motor. Was I excited! We immediately took it to Cross Lake for a test run. Dad pulled that cord what seemed like forever but it just would not fire. When he was just about to give up it finally sputtered a little. A couple more pulls it came to life and we took off. What a feeling that little motor gave me. Later dad found out you have to “pump” up the bulb to get gas to the motor.  We didn’t have a problem cranking it after that.

We mostly used cane poles for our bream and white perch fishing. Dad had an old 1955 Cadillac so we just stuck the poles through the back window, loaded our other tackle and off we would go, proud as could be.

On to Caddo. Dad worked for Swepco. They have a power generating plant on Caddo Lake. It’s the plant near Moringsport, LA for those familiar with the lake. On those grounds they also had some cabins employees could check out when available at no cost. One day, I was maybe 8 or 10 years old, dad came home and said we were going night fishing on Caddo and had brought home some devices I’d never seen before. They were Yo Yo’s. I thought school would never end that Friday. Was I excited.

We got into the plant and begin our night of fishing with those Yo Yo’s baited with live shiners. Did we ever catch come catfish. We learned where the better trees were that almost always caught fish and also learned to set the depth where the shiner was just in the water. It just created more disturbance when the shinner tried to swim and got more attention that way.

Between runs we would fish out of the intakes going into the power plant. There were plenty of lights and a small discharge into the intakes that always attracted fish. One night dad was straight lining shiners along the edges of the intakes and caught about a 6 lb. appaloosas catfish. We got that one in and hardly 30 minutes later he had another on nearly the same size. I quit what I was fishing for and straight lined shiners the rest of the night. Didn’t catch any catfish that way but did pick up a few nice white perch.

Years later one weekend we also brought my younger brother, my wife to be (still is), and her brother. We had hardly backed out of the little dock when someone yelled “Snake”. My fiancé dove into the water on one side of the boat and her brother hit the water the other way. Dad and I got very light footed and my brother jumped to the bow of the boat. Shortly after a couple of rats come out from under the decking, ran across my brothers feet while he stomped at them and yelled, then the rats jumped into the water. One swam directly toward my future brother in law. All he could see was something swimming toward him while still thinking it was a snake. That was about as close as I’ve ever seen anyone walk on water.

Years have passed and I have a wealth of memories of fish tales, fish fries, and family outings at that plant. I’m 56 now and my dad has gone on to a better place, but those warm nights on Caddo will always be fresh in my mind. Thanks Dad.

Scottie Franklin (RattlinScottie)

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