January 26, 2018
[caption id="attachment_93563" align="aligncenter" width="648"] The Bayou State offers angling opportunities year 'round, with a myriad of fresh and saltwater options. Here are 36 to consider over the next 12 months, from Pontchartrain to Caddo, Calcasieu to Poverty Point and more. Photo By Ron Sinfelt[/caption]
JANUARY - VENICE YELLOWFIN TUNA
Pursuing yellowfin and blackfin tuna out of Venice is a year-round option. However, cold weather brings big yellowfin and blackfin tuna closer to shore. Local anglers and charter captains know the location of the famous Midnight Lump located south and west of the Mississippi, which is a large salt dome that rises from the sea floor.
Anglers chase schools of tuna by trolling at multiple depths with swimming lures near the lump or stopping by rigs and dropping lines. Favorite baits include hardtail or Spanish mackerel, and frozen chunk baits.
Other Options: Caney Lake Crappie: The early sac-au-lait in Caney Lake bite worms and crickets. Blue Water Wahoo: Stay in Venice and hunt down this giant, fast-moving mackerel.
FEBRUARY - LAKE D'ARBONNE CRAPPIE
Lake D'Arbonne, in Union and Lincoln parishes, is a well-known reservoir supporting a sizeable population of crappie. Anglers do well fishing the shallows from February through May using tube jigs or by dangling worms or crickets.
The lake was formed by the impounding of the D'Arbonne bayou. This created a channel running the length of the lake. Anglers target this feature early as the bite gets underway.
Other Options: Vernon Lake Bass: In January, the water is cool, so toss jerkbaits to entice bass to bite. Grand Bayou Bream: Go east of Coushatta and fish at the state park.
MARCH - TOLDEO BEND LARGEMOUTH BASS
Long regarded as one the region's premier bass waters, this reservoir, which was created to minimize seasonal flooding from the Sabine river, stretches nearly 65 miles. Texas and Louisiana worked together on the project and collectively manage the resources.
Bass begin moving toward shore in March to spawn as the water warms. All bait types should be used as the season gets underway. Thanks to the sheer size of this lake, there are always new stretches of water to explore. The state and local governments manage several boat launches along the lake and several manmade reefs can be explored as well. Visit the LDWF website and get familiarized with the interactive ArcGis Explorer Tool for coordinates of launches and structure.
Other Options: Local Crawfish: Each license holder can catch up to 100 pounds of mudbugs. Lake Des Allemands Drum: Freshwater drum love deep water, but will bite worms or crawfish in the shallow waters of this lake.
APRIL - CADDO LAKE WHITE BASS
Caddo Lake is a rare natural lake formed from a great raft of logs and debris, which impeded the flow of the Red River and inundated low lying areas. White bass in the lake system grow fast and are present in high numbers. White bass chase baitfish through the lake and can be sight fished by looking for shad surfacing. Once a school has been spotted, toss spoons or spinners near the surface.
Access to the lake is relatively easy on either side of the state line. The Mooringsport Ramp and a ramp in Earl G. Williamson Park are free and available for public use. Williamson Park also features a floating pier. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers operates a day use recreational facility at the Caddo Lake Dam and bank fishing in the outflow channel below the dam has become a favorite spot for many.
Other Options: Pontchartrain Black Drum: Find black drum under the I-10 bridge. Poverty Point Crappie: Crappie are finishing their spawn and transitioning. Catch them with jigs.
MAY - BOGUE CHITTO STATE PARK BREAM
Bogue Chitto State Park is one of the best, reasonably priced outdoor destinations. Here, 11 stocked ponds, along with bank access to the Bogue Chitto River, provide ample opportunities for bream, catfish and bass. Worms on a No. 6 hook under a bobber can provide hours of entertainment. The ponds are stocked with bass, bream and catfish. The river contains largemouth bass, as well as bream.
Other Options: Turkey Creek Bass: Largemouth bass favor Texas-rigged plastics tossed near spawning beds. Black Bay Speckled Trout: Specks in Black Bay are looking for baits under popping corks.
JUNE - OUACHITA RIVER CATFISH
The Ouachita River around Monroe is one of north Louisiana's best options for summer cats. With multiple launches available, from Finch Bayou through Sterlington and south to Columbia, the Ouachita offers miles of river, along with a healthy population of blue and channel cats. Because catfish have a penchant for eating just about anything gross, anglers can use cutbait, crawlers or chicken livers.
If accessible, anglers should meander to the tail of the backwaters off the main channel of to sink some hooks. If water is moving out of the backwaters, focus on the openings.
Other Options: Reefs Sea Bass: Black sea bass are bottom feeders that love cover. Get to them with weighted baits. Bank Bream: Since the kids are out of school, find a bank and set up for bream with worms and a bucket.
JULY - OFFSHORE OIL RIGS RED SNAPPER
Historically, June begins the red snapper season, but the peak happens in July. This highly sought after reef fish draws anglers near and far and is subject to specific and complicated regulations and permit requirements.
Because snapper hide under structures that form manmade reefs, landing snapper requires strong gear and tough arms. Many of the bigger fish live deep under the surface and getting bait to them takes patience. Many anglers use live baits, though some guides use dead baits to great success. Probing the depths will pinpoint the location of snapper. Hundreds of rigs off the coast are loaded with snapper, so options abound.
Other Options: Caddo Lake White Bass: Anglers can net 25 white bass on Caddo Lake near the Texas border. Coastal Tripletail: Find floating cover outside of marshes and target tripletail with shrimp.
AUGUST - LEEVILLE MARSHES BULL REDFISH
Redfish are one the most ubiquitous fish in Louisiana's salty waters. The flaky, clean meat has become a staple of the region's cuisine and more than one restaurant in New Orleans has this fish on the menu. The marshes east of Highway 1 near Leeville support a healthy population of these fish.
Minnows under a popping cork work wonders, bounced along the banks and around small cuts where fish lay in waiting. Sight fishing is an option as well; stand high and look for wake being pushed up by reds just under the surface. Spinnerbaits and plastics matching the weather and water conditions work. Several charters run out of Leeville, but for a small fee, public launches are available at Top Water Marina or the Leeville Public Launch.
Other Options: Red River Cats: Red River catfish are waiting under logs for hooks weighed down with live bait. Calcasieu Specks: Use shrimp and get on the water early in the morning to land a load of speckled trout.
SEPTEMBER - VENICE COBIA
Lemonfish represent one of the tastiest fish in the gulf. They come with a big appetite as well. Highly mobile, cobia are often located by accident while fishing for mangrove or other reef fish. Using oilrigs as staging areas, cobia search out baitfish and then move on without saying goodbye.
September acts as a transition period for cobia as summer heat breaks and gives way to cooler temperatures. Feeding activity near the surface will draw cobia up from the bottom if they are around. Once spotted, casting lines loaded with live bait or plastics and jigs in front of cruising fish may entice them to bite. Cobia fight like mad when hooked, and will make a run for their money.
Other Options: Lake Bruin Largemouths: Lake Bruin is an oxbow off the Mississippi that features plenty of manmade cover. Pontchartrain Sheepshead: Sheepshead will eat anything and are often found near jetties piers and bridge pilings.
OCTOBER - COCODRIE FLOUNDER
A downright ugly fish, complete with flat bodies, bulging eyes and crooked mouths, the only place that makes sense for these guys to hide and evade predators is buried in the mud. Migrating flounder can be found all along the coast as falling air and water temperatures begin to push flounder from warm-weather inshore hideouts to offshore waters where they spend winter.
Usually found in areas with silts, flounder often fall victim to shrimp. The most productive time to catch feeding flounder is at night on rising or falling tides. Flounder can be anywhere inside or outside the marshes.
Other Options: Black Bayou Lake Largemouth Bass: Near Monroe, the fishing pier over the lake gets fisherman on bass quickly. Larto-Saline Crappie: Stay in the freshwater and chase down fall crappie in this large backwater complex.
NOVEMBER - CANEY LAKE LARGEMOUTH BASS
Fall bass are biting all over the state, but anglers in northeast Louisiana can target lunkers in Caney Lake. The impoundment pools at nearly 5,000 acres and is well known for producing giant bass.
November bass are racing to cooling water by heading back into the deep holes or channel waters. However, schooling shad can entice bass to feed. Topwater baits or shad-mimicking crankbaits or swimming lures can fool a bucketmouth, especially where major creek channels meet the main body of the lake. Pay close attention to water temperature to help decide where to in the water column to target fish.
Other Options: Reef Gag Grouper: The season runs from June 1 to December 31 and grouper makes a delicious meal. Concordia Buffalo: Add a twist to fishing options by bowfishing buffalo.
DECEMBER - DULARGE SPECKLED TROUT
The marshes around near Dularge offer angling opportunities all year long. Speckled trout action this time of year follows the water temperature, and marsh anglers should closely monitor water conditions.
When the water is cool, trout hang out in deep pools fattening up on minnows. Yellow plastics or black plastics may draw the attention of trout. The locations of these pools are well-kept secrets among anglers. But if water temperatures are warmer than usual trout may be moving out of the deeper water and into areas they traditionally inhabit in March.
With warmer than usual waters, specks will be hanging around flats. Casting live shrimp under corks could produce bites. Work the flats by dragging shrimp toward the edges. Public launches, including Serigne's and Sweetwater Lodge, are located on Delacroix Highway.
Other Options: Caney Yellow Bass: Go back to Caney to cast for yellow bass in the main channel. Lake Kincaid Catfish: Cats are in deeps holes waiting out winter; present them a tasty morsel and they may bite.