I still remember my first job out of college long years ago. I was hired to teach school in a town in Webster Parish with a funny sounding name, Shongaloo.
I enjoyed my one-year stay in this little hamlet, making friends, some of whom I still keep in contact with today. Not only was it fun to impart knowledge to kids just a few years younger than I, ponds in the area provided some good fishing and there were plenty of squirrels to chase on Indian Creek.
We’d have to drive to Springhill for groceries as Shongaloo offered little in the shopping department. On the trip over, we crossed a stream at Sykes Ferry, a creek that looked for all the world like the Saline Bayou I came to love as a kid growing up in Goldonna. This cypress-lined dark-water Webster Parish stream was Dorcheat Bayou. I regret never having had the chance to fish it while living in Shongaloo but I’d bet my hat I could have caught some bass around those cypress knees and stumps.
A couple of weeks ago, I joined a group of writers to spend a few hours on Dorcheat Bayou. We were guests of the Explore Louisiana North group (www.explorelouisiananorth.org) which took us on a big swing around the northern half of the state, visiting several prime fishing holes.
Climbing aboard a fancy bass boat owned and operated by Minden’s resident bass fishing pro, Homer Humphreys, we plied the placid cypress-shaded waters of the bayou while listening to Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau representative, Lynn Dorsey, explain what we were seeing.
“Bayou Dorcheat is a beautiful stream that courses through the entirety of Webster Parish, having its origin in Arkansas and eventually emptying into Lake Bistineau,” Dorsey explained.
“The stream covers about 54 miles through the parish and our agency has come up with something unique for mile markers; wood duck boxes. This is not only something different but in addition, it provides the ducks that make their homes in this area boxes in which to rear their broods,” she added.
The agency also came up with an innovative approach for the construction of these boxes.
“We approached the 4-H club at Doyline High School with the possibility of constructing the boxes as a club project. They were thrilled at the opportunity and our Convention and Visitors Bureau paid the club for the construction of more than enough boxes to serve as the 54-mile markers.
“They actually constructed more than 70 boxes, which turned out to be a good thing. Already,” Dorsey noted, “the first box we installed in the northern part of the parish disappeared — we assume it was stolen — so we have plenty to replace any that disappear or are damaged.”
Page 2 of 2 - Actually, Bayou Dorcheat is some 115 miles long, having its genesis in Nevada County Arkansas. Steeped in history, Dorcheat was utilized by steam boats during the 19th century to being products to the area. To aid in this venture, wharves and warehouses were constructed along the bayou. During this period, Dorcheat was heavily used as the Red River was not navigable because of a huge log jam that choked the river, a jam eventually cleared by Captain Henry Shreve, for which Shreveport was named.
All the colorful history aside, I would love to crawl in Homer Humphreys’ bass boat with him and cast a line around the cypress knees on this beautiful old stream. I can just about guarantee you I’d be making a bit of Dorcheat history of my own.