State parks offer beautiful settings for anglers to enjoy. (Submitted Photo/Courtesy of John K. Flores)

State parks offer something for the whole family

Both of my neighbors, who live on either side of me, own RV camper trailers. Nice ones too.
I’m not being envious here, or covetous for that matter. Lord knows it’s hard keeping that 10th Commandment in check with all the trappings we have in America.
No, when I see my neighbor’s camper trailers, I think of those early pioneers moving westward in their covered wagons. Everything they owned to live was inside of those early horse-drawn RVs.
And, that makes me envious.
The idea of high-risk and high-reward was only part of what compelled those early settlers to take on such an adventure. Another thing was knowing it was also their destiny.
Today, it’s still an adventure to travel. But, with a tamed nation, the finest highway system in the world and so many beautiful sights to see, there’s a pretty low risk for high reward involved.
One of my neighbors uses his RV more than the other, and when he is getting things ready for his trip, sometimes I’ll holler at him, “Where you and Janet headed this weekend, Terry?” To which he typically replies, “Chicot,” or “Grand Isle,” or some other state park, which brings me to the point. Louisiana has 22 state parks governed by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. I’ve visited seven of them, and the wife and I are working on checking out others.
What’s more, we’re not RV campers. So, what’s the draw for us? What’s the draw for a couple of AARP baby boomers? Let’s just say we're not ready for the rocking chair yet and that state parks offer us opportunities to do the things we love to do in the outdoors.
During late April, we visited Chicot State Park to do some hiking and birdwatching. The trails were well marked, and the birds were active. The tree canopy was so much different from those here in St. Mary Parish. It was a great adventure, and we plan to go back with our canoe next time.
Lake Claiborne State Park encompasses 620 acres of pristine uplands on a hillside that overlooks the 6,400-acre lake. It’s an absolutely beautiful location. The lake is best known as a hotspot for largemouth bass. But, anglers come from all over to also fish hybrid striped bass and crappie (known to locals up that way as white perch and us down here as sac-alait). If you like to fish, at certain times of the year, this is a state park you’ll want to visit.
“The white perch fishing is amazing in February and March,” said Park Manager Wesley Harris. “We have a lot of fishermen that come and camp or stay in one of our cabins – some for a couple weeks at a time during that period. It’s a very clear and clean lake. There are not a lot of stumps or logs that you typically find in a lot of north Louisiana lakes. And, it’s easy to fish.”
The average depth of Lake Claiborne is 16 feet. There’s also a channel that runs about 35 to 40 feet deep.
The best time to catch big stripers (8 to 9 pounds) on the lake is during the middle of March through the month of April. The rest of year, you can still catch striped bass. They just run smaller is all.
Speaking of fishing, how about Poverty Point Reservoir State Park? What’s not to like about a state park that rests on a 2,700-acre man-made body of water that holds the Nos. 2, 3, 4, 7, 9 and 10th places for white crappie in the Louisiana record books. Moreover, the No. 1 spot for the biggest black crappie ever caught in the state.
The wife and I have visited Grand Isle State Park to saltwater fish and do some birding. We’ve visited Sam Houston Jones State Park to hike and do some nature viewing.
I’ve spent the night at Jimmie Davis State Park in some really nice cabins they have on Caney Creek Reservoir, but my fishing trip got rained out. And, we’ve both fished out of Cypremort Point State Park here in St. Mary Parish and Lake Fausse Pointe State Park just up the road in St. Martinville.
Most of Louisiana’s State parks offer deluxe cabins, many of them sitting out over the water, that typically sleep eight to 10. You can expect to pay $150 to $175 per night plus tax depending on if it’s a weekday or weekend. They also come with just about every convenience you’ll need in terms of cookware, towels and linens.
Additionally, many of the state parks also have Satellite TV and WiFi in their cabins.
Depending on which state park, several include “world class” 18-hole golf courses and disc (Frisbee) golf courses.
When my neighbors roll out with their RV campers they may not be pulling up stakes to start a new life as homesteaders in the Midwestern prairies, but when they head to any of Louisiana’s state parks, it’s always an adventure for them.
For more information on Louisiana’s state parks visit http://www.crt.state.la.us/ louisiana-state-parks/ Note, due to flooding last August, Bogue Chitto, Lake Fausse Pointe and Tickfaw State Parks are all under various states of repair with limited access and some closures. If you’re looking to visit any of these parks, it’s important to check in with the park first before planning your trip.

ST. MARY NOW & FRANKLIN BANNER-TRIBUNE

Franklin Banner-Tribune
P.O. Box 566, Franklin, LA 70538
Phone: 337-828-3706
Fax: 337-828-2874

Morgan City Daily Review
P.O. Box 948, Morgan City, LA 70381
Phone: 985-384-8370
Fax: 985-384-4255