Frank Davis, WWL-TV Fishing Expert
Last week when we fished Lake Pontchartrain, even with the river water scattered everywhere, Capt. Kenny Kreeger and I managed to find some keeper croakers and drums along the bridges. Not too shabby for fishing an area that rumor claimed was supposedly ruined for the rest of the year.
But then, by the end of the week, the Corps of Engineers continued to close the bays and “needles” in the Bonnet Carre Spillway, thereby shutting off the inflow of muddy Mississippi River water into the lake.
So this Thursday, Capt. Kenny and I decided to swap out fishing show destinations just so we could have another run at the lake to determine what changes had come about in the time span of a week, based on the spillway closure. This week though, we didn’t fish the Lake Pontchartrain proper; instead we fished the inlets, bayous, and canals that branch off the lake.
“We need to let the weekenders know that that the water back in Lakeshore Estates, Eden Isles, Oak Harbor, Bayou Liberty and many of the other waterways that intersect the lake remain clear and brackish with no hint of the river's influence,” Capt. Kenny revealed with some reluctance, admittedly feeling like he was divulging a long-hidden secret spot.
“But then, at the same time, I’m not spilling the beans, so to speak. Dozens and dozens of fishermen have already found that these locations are holding impressive numbers of fish. . .and consequently they have been fishing there every day.”
The reason just about every angler with a current license is racing to these places is because folks who have been fishing them recently discovered that some unbelievably big speckled trout are holding up there. What’s more, barring any weather changes, these fish should still be there and ready to feed this weekend.
“Yeah, but Frank, you gotta tell people what it’s gonna take to actually catch these big monsters,” Capt. Kenny continued. “Folks with little or no active experience working backwater areas could very well find no action at all. Novices might even end up making a water haul (no fish, zip, nada, kaput!)!”
Kreeger went on to say that the “only way” to catch these trout, many of which tip the scale well over 5 pounds, is on the bottom. . .on a Carolina rig. . .using live shrimp (which is available at both The Dock and The Rigolets Marinas).
He also hints that early morning fishing has consistently been best since the trout—again upwards of 5 pounds apiece in some instances—tend to shut down completely and turn off at around 9:30 am.
“You wanna get your fishing in early to avoid the crowds. . .but most importantly the heat of the day. I’m gonna say that if you do this right, you should have all your fish in the boat by 10:30 or so,” Kreeger continued.
Technique is cast, pop, twitch, and let sit! No straight retrieve. No corks. Just straight-away 3/4 ounce egg sinkers, a bronze-colored barrel swivel, a 10-12 inch shock leader, an offset #4 hook, and a lively little fresh shrimp.
“Hey, y’all,” Kreeger warned. “The only mini-bites and nibbles you’re gonna get will be from a rather big population of rather big croakers which are hanging out with the trout. Cuz when the trout take your shrimp, they’re gonna smash into it like a freight train hitting a wall—there’s the unmistakable strike followed by the sensation of the fish rushing away with the shrimp. It’s exciting, for sure.”
Note, too, that in addition to the trout and croakers, some impressive-size drum and sheepshead are also in the mix and will probably make for some nice lagniappe.
So what is the state of the lake now? Simply put, depending on wind direction, wind strength, and tidal ranges (the higher the range the better, so that river water can be flushed from the lake), expect it on the average—now that the spillway is closed—to take about 6 months to return to what is generally referred to by biologists as “normal” (good water quality, low turbidity, and exact salinity).
In the meantime, get out there and go fishing—that’s the philosophy of the old timers who have grown up on and always fished in the lake. And if you need some personal help finding the fish which are present, you can always call Capt. Kenny (at 985-643-2944) or any of the other Lake Pontchartrain/Borgne guides and get them to take you out and put you “on the fish.”
Just do me a special favor, okay? With or without a guide. . . stay out of my spots!”