Sunday, July 26, 2015

Catfishing's Secret Weapon _ Catch More Fish

I believe it is unquestionably good to preserve the Folk life / Culture of  Bayou Pigeon. 

Thus I post this story… enjoy !

In Chapter 16 of the Bayou  Pigeon book, page 358 we have a  chapter on Commercial fishing and we discuss Hook and Line (trot line) fishing.   Where as we describe  that in the 1930’s and  40’s  most of  commercial fishermen at Bayou Pigeon  started as a hook and line fisherman  and then most  moved up to Hoop Net fishing. 

To keep big Cat’s from twisting themselves off a trot line, requires  a metal swivel  from  the staging to the main line…

Everyone knows that, well did you know… 

Huey Perera, of Bayou Pigeon,  lived the first part of his life with one foot on a boat and one foot in the water.  His early life was on a camp boat  in the Little Bayou Pigeon/Keel Boat pass  area of Grand Lake with his father, Aldoras Perera  and brothers & sisters.  His mother died when he was 5 years old in 1943.

Aldoras Perera  made his early living  by hook and line fishing from their camp boat in the swamp, with Huey at his side. It was not until 1954  that  the Perera's moved their Camp boat  permanently to Bayou Pigeon, one  of the last families to abandon to the heart of the Swamp. Huey married  Annie Michel and he has raised his family there.

It was the  research for Chapter  16 where I first learned of the homemade  trot line swivel. Researching, the book  I had talked with as many old fishermen  from Pigeon as I could about Hook and Line fishing. Thus, this is where Huey Perera  fits in in this story.

Big catfish  are known  for twisting themselves off  a trot line staging.  Thus  to put more fish in the boat, required the use of a swivel.  Most fishermen of the 1930’s and 40’s did not have the money nor could they find a manufactured swivel.

Keeping with the Spirit of  the Atchafalaya  Swamper,  to overcome, adapt and  improvise as needed,  the fishermen made their own swivels  out  of a  wire and nail.  After some internet research, I managed to find a picture of one these homemade swivels  on Jim Delahoussaye's  “River Logue’ blog.   Jim is a accomplished  outdoor writer and Naturalist.  I consider him to be one of a few legitimate Subject Matter  Experts on Atchafalaya Basin folk life, Wildlife and Fisheries, Flora and Fauna. I had never seen one these homemade trot line swivels before this, anywhere, until I discovered his blog.

Example of Homemade Line Swivel, source Jim Delahoussaye, Atchafalaya Riverlogue, blog

I happen  to mentioned the homemade swivel to Huey  when I was interviewing him about  living on a  camp boat in the Swamp.  He, to my surprise stated that his dad taught him how to make those swivels and they used them on their  trot lines, all the time. Huey was the only one  from Pigeon to ever mention the homemade swivel. He tried to explain to me how you made one , but I could not picture twisting the wire in my mind.

Sometime after the Bayou Pigeon book was published,  I ran into Huey at the store in Pigeon and mentioned to him that Mr. Delahoussaye had actually given me one those homemade trot line swivels.  I thought  it was really innovative.  It was then that he casually mentioned he still had the pliers that his father modified to make those swivels.  I said , Oh yea ! Can you make one?

 In God We Trust All Others Show me Pictures!  

One thing led to another and I found myself at Huey’s house for him to show me. A visit to Huey's  house quickly reveals  that his shop looks  like a retirement home  for vintage outboard motors. He is well known shade tree mechanic, he taught himself outboard motor repair and other mechanical  tool skills  of the swamp out of necessity.  There  were no repair shops, supply stores on Grand Lake. If you were to survive you had to improvise.

Sure enough, he made a couple of those swivels, right in front of me…

I am impressed…here are the pictures ?

The "folk" are the bearers of the folk life traditions,  when the human thread is lost, the  art/ technique / tradition invariably fades away.  Huey please tell us you have passed on this art to someone !

Where are the pliers?

A Retirement Home For Old Outboard Motors

The red motor is a 1940’s 4 H.P.  Royal Outboard Motor. Huey says this is the motor  that he used to push their Camp Boat  from Keel Boat Pass  to Pigeon in 1955.  He also has a 1949 7.5 hp Mercury … and he says they are both in working order…  

The 4 hp Royal was obtained from Roger Combel !  

The same Roger Combel who  hunted ducks on what would come to be known as 'Rogers Cove" (page 659 in the book) 

You never know what you will learn when you interview someone… There are always connections to the stories we learn about Bayou Pigeon… e.g.., Co author - Adam Landry, his father Wilbrod (Kaline) Landry [pronounced with more of a  C than  K to me, but I am a non French speaker, i.e.., ‘Carline’,]  was a mentor to Roger Combel about the  ways  of the  Atchafalaya and  who took him  to a secret Cove in the bed of old Grand lake and that would eventually be named  for him.  He probably used that 4 HP royal to get there!

Preserve the Heritage !


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