By John Sparks
I have a little fishing game I like to play with my friends who have just moved to Louisiana from Texas. I tell them that although Louisiana is an amazing place to fish, they shouldn’t plan on fishing for crappie.
“What? No crappie?” They look at me like I’ve gone loco. Crappie fishing is a big sport back in the Lone Star State.
As a kid, we lived in the South Plains, a part of Texas not blessed with an abundance of lakes. Even so, my dad and I had a favorite crappie fishing spot on Lake JB Thomas, located a couple of hours south of Lubbock.
The man-made lake was not much to look at, but it had a lovely floating crappie house where many times we fished all night.
The fishing was usually good, and we often returned home with a mess of “pan size” crappie, perfect for frying. But as a kid, the coolest thing to me about fishing for crappie was something called a “crappie rig.”
This clever contraption lets you fish two hooks simultaneously on one line. The rig allows a couple of minnows to swim in circles around the main line.
To a 10-year-old boy, it didn’t get much cooler than that. And when they were biting, it was common to reel in two fish at a time.
Today, my friends get concerned, thinking they will have to go back to Texas to fish for crappie. It’s then that I confess I’m not telling the whole story.
There is plenty of great crappie down here. In fact, it is the state’s official freshwater fish. But they go by another name down here, one my fellow Texpats may have trouble pronouncing.
In Louisiana, we call a crappie a Sacalait, sometimes seen as Sac-a-lait. Same great fish, different name.
Sacalait has a Cajun French origin and translates literally as “sack of milk.” The color of this mild white fish may be the reason for the name. These plentiful little fish are fun to catch and even more fun to eat—but first, a Texpat will have to get past the name.
Texpat is a column series for Louisiana transplants, by Louisiana transplants featured in each edition of Porch & Parish. John Sparks is a Texan native who now calls Louisiana home. Hence, a Texpat. To submit your own column, click here.