Kevin Petersen fishes several times a week on the the riverbank in Holy Cross where he experiences peace and serenity. Catfish bite better when the water is cooler, in the evenings or when the sky is overcast. The river has been low, so he stands on a beach on rich alluvial soil that used to fertilize farmland before the levees were built. Barges slither by at eye level, pushed through the Industrial Canal to Lake Borgne.
Several fishermen frequently gather to troll the river near the point. Often, they reel in dinner with plenty left over to share with friends and family. They bring stools, ice chests and sometimes an umbrella to fend off the intense, late afternoon sun.
“I meet some pretty good people here with the same mindset – good fathers, good husbands, trying to do the right thing, raising their families. This is their only relaxation,” he says. “We share the same vibe.
“Even the joggers are some of the most respectful and friendliest people you’ll ever meet.”
The local fishermen spar over who caught the biggest fish. Kevin usually gives his catch away or throws it back, preferring to eat freshwater fish from Lake Pontchartrain like redfish, speckled trout, bass or flounder. “It’s plentiful,” he says.
“They say Louisiana is a sportsman’s paradise. Even in the Ninth Ward, you can find that kind of sportsmanship.”
Kevin evacuated to San Antonio after Hurricane Katrina, making a new life there. He started a new family and career as a cook in an assisted living facility. But two years ago, he began having abdominal pains and doctors diagnosed him with lymphoma. When he was told he might only have a few months left to live, Kevin decided to return to New Orleans.
“With a short life expectancy, I’d rather go home and do things I like to do, get some fresh air and just relax,” he said.