Frank Davis / Fishing Expert
So is the water in Lake Pontchartrain too chocolaty this week to locate and catch a mixed bag of fish for a family fish fry? Well. . .not according to Capt. Kenny Kreeger, it isn't.
“Frank, while the Coast Guard and the Corps of Engineers all week long had repeatedly reported that chocolate colored Mississippi River water was spreading all across Pontchartrain,” Capt. Kenny explained, “we simply decided to put that information on a back burner, shrugged off all the negativities, and headed out here to the trestle Thursday morning. And am I glad we did!”
What the team found just after 6 am Thursday was some of the prettiest, greenest, clearest, and cleanest water they'd seen in a long, long time. Not a trace of river water in sight. And just as I had suspected, clustered together out ahead of the approaching river water were dozens of species of fish, all ready to feed!
“Trout, reds, drum, sheepshead, croakers, flounders, gafftop catfish, stingerees, bat rays, and hardheads,” Capt. Kreeger added. “And once the river water reaches the trestle--and no doubt it eventually will--the present ‘in population concentration of saltwater species’ will be replaced by a variety of freshwater fish.”
All the experts that I consulted unanimously agreed that fishing will continue in the interim. The only difference between then and now, though, is what are these species are when and where they will be biting.
Traditionally, Mississippi River fish that find their way into the Bonnet Carre and out into the lake during the spillway openings include several kinds of catfish, sturgeon, freshwater drum (gaspergou), bowfin (choupique), pickerel, gar, eel, shad, and carp. Most of them are good for a fight, even though they may not be considered exceptional table fare.
But back to the lake right now!
Let’s say you have just made last minute plans to get out on the weekend to fish at my “Thursday spots.” Listen to the advice that the pros are giving:
1—Go fishing early, early! If you can get out before daybreak. . .go! Just be extremely cautious about debris floating in the water on or near the surface.
2—Don’t leave the dock or the launch without a good supply of live shrimp. It’s what they want right now! Terry Googan’s “The Dock” at the end of Rat’s Nest Road on the North Shore, and the newly renovated Rigolets Marina at Rigolets Pass both have exceptional numbers of live shrimp. You’re gonna need a bait well full of ‘em because you’re gonna miss lots of bites and lose a significant number of fish.
3—Be alert for the bite! Regardless of the species, they aren’t explosive. They’re more like subtle nibbles or, better yet, just heavy pressure on the line, almost like the terminal rigging is snagged on something. When you feel this on your line, set the hook hard—most often than not the fish is on the line and ready for a tussle.
4—Fish Carolina rigging: (Egg sinker, red bead, swivel, 20-pound-test mono filament, and No. 4 or No. 6 hook). Fish down on the bottom and pop the setup occasionally to attract any nearby fish. I also suggest you make sure you have a landing net aboard.
5—But here’s your “Primary Pointer:” Instead of anchoring or drifting and casting extremely close to the trestle, work the water about 25 yards off the trestle. For some reason or another, maybe the intense pull of the tide, everything from trout to reds to drum to sheepshead to whatever are about 25 feet off the structure.
Oh, yeah—and fish the western side of the trestle.
6—And finally, because of the obvious circumstances we’re fishing under, wear your life jacket whenever you’re moving. There’s just too much flotsam and jetsam (floating crap) in the water.
Next week, ain’t no telling what’s in store. I’m scheduled to head down to Cocodrie to fish. But I was told today that next Thursday is the day the Morganza floodwater is expected to pour through Cocodrie. Anyhow. . .we’ll see!
In the meantime, even though he’s relatively busy right now, you can try to charter Capt. Kenny for a lake trip. His number is 985-643-2944. Save me a few!