Minden Press-Herald

Oct 02nd

SW Louisiana, epicenter of Sportsman’s paradise

I can't help it; my chest sort of swells when I hear folks all over the country refer to Louisiana as the Sportsman's Paradise. Why do they think of our state as a paradise for sportsmen? That's simple; that's what we are.

I live in north Louisiana and we don't have to apologize for anything outdoors. We have some of the finest lakes, rivers and creeks in the country where the bass, bream and crappie roam and our rolling pine-studded hills and oak shrouded hollows and flats are home to some of the best hunting for deer, turkeys, squirrels et al to be found anywhere.

As proud as I am of my north Louisiana outdoors heritage, there is another section of the state that may just get an edge because of the abundance of wildlife and freshwater species of fish but this part of the world also is home to one of the country's finest salt and brackish waters.

A couple of weeks ago, I was privileged to point my little Honda CRV southward and five hours later, I pulled into a hotel parking lot in Lake Charles and was greeted by old friend and hunting and fishing buddy, Capt. Sammie Faulk. My mission in traveling to Lake Charles was to participate in a Blast and Cast Winter Press Tour put together by the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention in Visitor's Bureau. I tip my hat to Megan Hartman, the Bureau's senior marketing manager who along with Faulk, put the trip together and made it all happen.

I was joined on the tour by friend and fellow outdoor writer, Richard Simms, from Chattanooga, TN. Over the course of two days, Simms and I were privileged to enjoy some of the best in the way of outdoor activities this part of the world has to offer.

To get the activities kicked off perfectly, we dined at the Seafood Palace, one of the finest eateries in the state, provided seafood is your preference. For Simms and me, it was at the top of our "preferred" dining spots as we chowed down on everything from shrimp to oysters to crawfish to boudin to alligator.

Long before dawn the next morning, we were transported to the "Big Pasture". That's the English rendering of the French name, Grosse Savanne. I like the French rendering better and the lodge and property lived up to everything it was hyped to be.

Grosse Savanne consists of some 50,000 acres of wetlands, prairies and agricultural fields, bordered on one side by Calcasieu Lake, the state's best-known saltwater lake.

We were introduced to our guide, Thomas Alleman, who would work with us both days in the duck blind and on the water after redfish.

The first morning in the blind was windy and mild, signaling the approach of a weather system that would bring frost and chilly temperatures the second day. No matter; under the expert calling of Alleman, we were able to limit out both days on a variety of ducks including mallards, pintails, gadwalls, teal, wigeon and the prized duck of the marsh, the mottled duck.

Following a wonderful brunch at Grosse Savanne after the first morning hunt, we hopped back in Alleman's boat to give fishing a try. Frankly, I was a bit skeptical because of the high winds but our guide knew just a spot that put us in a sheltered cove out of the wind and we found the redfish cooperative.

A final meal that night at Pujo Street Café put the finishing touches on a wonderful, productive and fun-filled get-away to the epicenter of the Sportsman's Paradise, southwest Louisiana.

For more information in what this part of the world has to offer, contact Megan Hartman at mhartman@visitlakecharles.orgoor check out the facilities and amenities at Grosse Savanne at www.grossesavanne.com.

Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.






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