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L&J Southern Outdoors

June 2020, Volume 114

The scenery along Highway 165 is nothing spectacular but since I seldom get over that way I was enjoying the drive and scenery to boot. Passing the many nurseries and plant farms it was almost as if I was in a different part of the country, not just a different part of the state of Louisiana. Soon I was back driving through the typical Louisiana landscape. With crawfish ponds on both sides of the road, I could tell I was getting close to my destination after turning on to Highway 101. 

Hayes is a small unincorporated township in southwest Louisiana near Lake Charles. Like many of the places we go, you have to be going there to go there. I knew I was getting close when I saw the “bait shop” sign that all fishermen get excited over, second only to the excitement of the following “boat launch" sign.

I followed the signs and pulled in behind Poole's Boil N Go to a shop just a tad different than most bait shops I have visited. Facing the shop you see a symmetric barn shaped building with doors on either side. The door on the right leads to Joni's Kajun Kutz but door #2 on the left is the gateway to L&J Southern Outdoors.

I chose door #2 obviously, not knowing they were one in the same destinations. Once inside I was in two worlds at one time. A bait and tackle store lay before me but I could see hair care and beauty salon infused in the environment to the right. Behind a centrally located counter and checkout was Larry Breaux and his father-in-law, Warren Poole.

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A stop at L&J Southern Outdoors in Hayes, LA is a family visit for all with the Breaux and Poole families.

After introductions and small talk I got the grand tour of the bait shop and I tell you, Larry has some stuff stacked in his one of a kind location. With all the products on the shelves, its easy to spot items from your big brands like Zoom and Missile Baits, but also plenty of products from medium sized guys like Cajun and Highwater Lures.  Not to be outdone, he even has stuff from smaller Louisiana market guys like Southern Punch.  The store is full of daily expanding options. In fact after leaving, L&J was fully stocked with products from Louisiana Triple Threat and Shongaloo Outdoors as well!

With live bait, supplies for:  saltwater, sac-a-lait, bream, bass, catfish, as well as seasonal hunting; the shop is full of all necessary supplies to fill your outdoor needs.

Down home folks just trying to make a living and provide a service in an industry they love, L&J is the exact type of place Bassin’ in the Boot is all about covering. You don’t always come across this combination but it’s as close to perfect for the Breaux family of 4 as you can get. With 2 rambunctious boys the Breaux’s and extended family operate several business services with no employees outside the family. It’s truly a group effort between Larry and Joni and Joni’s parents.

Larry and Joni met sometime in grade school but were close neighbors (across the pasture) and growing up they were inseparable according to a few elementary teachers. Situations and moves managed to separate the two for years until a rekindled friendship later turned in to so much more than expected. I know you’re thinking marriage but I was talking about the perfect his and her getaway. Where else can you gladly accompany your wife to the hair salon? Only at Joni's Kajun Kutz can your wife get all the attention she needs while you browse an almost endless supply of baits, tackle, and seasonal outdoor accessories in the same building at L&J Southern Outdoors.

I got to the shop around 9:30 am thinking I’d be back in Alexandria by 2 at the latest to stop at a few more locations.  I was wrong...

You see when you walk into L&J there’s a time warp so to speak. I spent the day talking, visiting, meeting customers and just enjoying being in an awesome place. Then Larry offered to take me for a ride to the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge.

I had heard of it but had never been there.  We rode a few miles from town and soon we were in the “marsh" of south Louisiana. Established to provide waterfowl wintering quarters, the refuge supports many wildlife species. From alligator to largemouth bass, this is a beautiful place to enjoy the landscape so uniquely Louisiana. If you’re coming to fish, you’ll find monsters in the endless tunnels and waterways of Lacassine but take note you can only access it with a 40 hp or less outboard engine. Bring your small boat or your kayak and #geauxbassin in a most unique setting.

It’s a one of a kind place to fish, and definitely one to place on the bass bucket list. On your way stop in at L&J for the top baits and the top-secret locations to catch fish in the refuge. Larry and Joni have a business like no other and a must see in your travels to southwest Louisiana.

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With his continuous work and personalized assistance to his patrons we had to get Mr. Larry Breaux to take a brief pause from sorting jigs to get a shot of him in his element.

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Ever the friendly place, an angler cruising by on the Lacassine Reserve waves as he passes us en route to fishing in the waterbody that is know to hold giant largemouth bass. 

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Enjoying the sights, the SMELLS and the TASTES of South Louisiana as Mr. Poole pauses from dumping a fresh batch of crawfish to talk.

Larry Breaux, owner of L&J Southern Oudoors looks on and assists customers with personal service.

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No stock photos here; just fresh, hot, crawfish from Poole's Boil N Go that were oh so delicious! 

After returning to the shop I was asked if I’d like to stay for some crawfish. A most rhetorical question as any I’ve ever been asked but with the most anticipated, mouthwatering trip across the parking lot we were at the crawfish hole known as Poole’s Boil N Go.

There I found myself in heaven. The smells, the spices the atmosphere of a south Louisiana boil house is like no other. Sitting under the covered picnic table area in a pouring rain eating crawfish in white boot country; yes sir, this is the life!

Like any trip to see friends or family I left with an ice chest full of steaming hot crawfish and a bag of frozen goodies from folks that just that morning I knew not, but now counted as friends.

It’s a slower way of life in Hayes but I know where the heart of the community is located. That would be on Crochet Rd just a rock throw off of Hwy 14 in the most complete little hair care, bait and tackle, crawfish boiling, U-Haul rental, “we do it all” center of Hayes, La. 

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