Frank Davis / Fishing Expert
If all you've been hearing is how destroyed Lake Pontchartrain is right now because of the river water pouring into it from the Mississippi, I’ve collected you some contradictory information this week.
While it is true that the lake does contain a large volume of freshwater these days from the Bonnet Carre Spillway, because of the way the current flows in this 622 square mile estuary, there are--and there will always be--scattered "pockets" of clean, green, saltwater where resident saltwater fish hole up.
“Let me fill in a little background for y’all,” Capt. Kenny Kreeger explained away the present situation. “Thursday when our fishing team launched at The Dock on the north shoreline, primarily because they needed to get fresh live shrimp from there, once in the water they quickly ran to the south side of the railroad trestle where they immediately began pulling in both large croakers and some hefty sheepshead.
“It’s important to remember that all the action is on the bottom, which means you’re gonna need a Carolina rig, a 12 to 14 inch 25-pound-test mono leader, a #4 hook, and a half-ounce egg type lead sinker," he said.
This methodology indeed caught us all by surprise because of all the bad publicity the lake has been getting lately.
“They initially thought they would be lucky if they even caught anything at all; but their success proved conclusively that the rumors about poor fishing amidst the spillway opening turned out to be just that—rumors!” he said.
As Kreeger repeated all day long,”The fish are in the lake. The fish are in the lake.”
It’s interesting to note, too, that other charter operators Thursday took many of their veteran clients to the lakeshore area on the north side and (believe it or not) got into some really nice speckled trout, principally 14 to 18-inch fish, all caught on live shrimp on the bottom.
I don't expect any of this to change for this Saturday and Sunday. . .but to be successful you will have to locate pockets of clean green water.
“You’ll recognize ‘em right away,” Kreeger added. “Just come on out here, ride around slow—the Twin Spans, the Railroad Trestle, the Five Mile Bridge—and when you see the green water, drop anchor. While I don’t doubt that the river water has chased off many species, sheepshead, croakers, and—yep!—hardheads are hanging in there."
“It’s a good time to come out with kids—market shrimp on the bottom, jigging straight up and down, and no finesse needed at all. . .they’re gonna have a great time. And so will you!”
Now while I was originally scheduled to fish the Hopedale area next Thursday, instead I opted to do a return to Lake Pontchartrain to gauge what’s changing day to day and how much it’s changing. So check out this report next week, say, sometime after 3 pm and get the latest on the lake.
In the meantime, exercise extreme caution out there. We wanna try to avoid incidents and accidents like the one that occurred this week at Hopedale. And once again. . . please wear your life jackets whenever you’re underway!
Now go catch yo’sef a mess of croakers. . .scale ‘em, gut ‘em, and fry ‘em whole!