28 Words You Should Learn Before Fishing in Louisiana

If your Louisiana fishing buddy says he wants to take you fishing for poisson rouge, will you know what he’s talking about? The language of fishing is different in the Bayou State. (Photo by Keith Sutton)

The first time I went fishing down in the Louisiana, I wasn’t at all prepared for the deluge of new words that would fall upon my ears. It was like I was visiting another country where everyone spoke an entirely different language. For example:

“Look out yonder in my bateau and find youself one of dem poles what’s got a red and sparkletail gigue on the ling,” my host said as we pulled up to the dock. “If we can find us a bande of hungry sac-à-lait, dey’ll bite dat fo’ sho.”

I had not a clue what he said and just stood there, dumbfounded.

As Louisiana is a favored destination for many non-resident fishermen, I thought I might save some of these out-of-state “pêcheurs” from the same embarassment by sharing a few Cajun words and phrases likely to be heard on a Bayou State fishing trip. If you spend some time studying them, maybe you’ll be able to interpret what is being said. Maybe.

  • appât (pronounced ah-PAH): bait. Example: “Worms are the best appât for sunfish.”
  • au large (O LARGE): offshore. “If you want to catch a big tuna, you’ll have to go fishing au large.”
  • bande (BAHND): school (of fish). “Sea birds often are seen diving around bandes of redfish.”
  • bateau (BAH-toe): small boat. “Let’s see if we can borrow Boudreaux’s bateau to go fishing in.”
  • bouchon (BOO-shonh, leave the “n” weak): a cork or bobber used for fishing. “Using a bouchon lets you can see when a fish nibbles your appât.”
  • chevrette (SHEV-ret): shrimp. “A fresh chevrette will catch almost any kind of saltwater sportfish.”
  • chinquapin (CHINK-uh-pin): redear sunfish. “The chinquapins are on their beds in False River Lake.”
  • choupique (shoe-PICK): bowfin. Also known as a grinnel, dogfish or mudfish. “A choupique’s sharp teeth will bite right through your line.”
  • criquet (kree-KET): cricket. “Let’s go to the bait shop to get some criquets before we leave.”
  • gigue (ZHEEG): jig (the lure). “The sac-à-lait were hitting green-and-black gigues this weekend.”
  • goujon (GOO-zhon): a flathead catfish. “Johnny caught a 50-pound goujon last night.”
  • hameçon (ahm-SOHN): fish hook. “Use a strong hameçon if you want to catch those big goujons.”
  • lac (LACK): lake. “Our fishing camp is on the lower end of the lac.”
  • ling (LING): from the French word ligne, which means line. In Cajun French, it usually refers to trotlines, but sometimes fishing line. Also a nickname for the cobia because of the white lines on the fish’s sides. “We should check those lings to see if we caught any fish.” Or “Wow, that’s a big ling!”
  • moustique (moo-STEEK): mosquito. “The moustiques will eat you alive down by the bayou.”
  • patassa (pa-TASS-ah): panfish. “A mess of patassa will make a good meal tonight.”
  • pêcheur (peh-SHUR): fisherman, angler. “The pêcheur sat beneath a shade tree while waiting for a bite.”
  • perche (PAIR-sh): bass or trout. “That lac has good fishing for perche.”
  • pirogue (PEE-row): a long narrow boat used to maneuver through the Louisiana swamplands. “Jason used his pirogue to fish around the cypress trees.”
  • plie (PLEH): flounder. “In Big Lake, we catch lots of poisson rouge and plies.”
  • plomb (PLUM): a lead sinker. “When fishing for Mississippi River catfish, you need a heavy plomb to carry your bait down to the bottom.”
  • poisson armé (pwah-SON ARMAY): gar fish. “The poisson armé has hard interlocking scales that cover it like a coat of armor.”
  • poisson rouge (pwah-SON rooge): redfish. “Jill caught her biggest poisson rouge ever last weekend—a 40-pounder."
  • pont (POHN): bridge. “The water downstream from the pont was a hotspot for big speckled trout.”
  • raquin (rah-CAN): shark. “Matt thought he had hooked a big poisson rouge, but it was a 4-foot raquin.”
  • rig d’huile (rig duh wheel): oil rig. “We caught a cooler full of triggerfish under the rig d’huile.” 
  • sac-à-lait  (SOCK-uh-lay): crappie. “We caught 30 sac-á-lait around that one sunken treetop.”
  • truite (TREET): minnow. “Some call them cocahoe minnows, but in Louisiana, they are truites de cocahoe.”

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