About the only folks who could like all this green are the Irish. Yeah, St. Patrick’s Day was two weeks ago, but south Louisiana folks were doing more than “wearing the green,” we were covered in the green.
Cars, boats and everything else left outside and uncovered were, and continue to be, covered in pollen, mostly from the massive oaks in my neighborhood. It’s pine in other places.
And not just here: Before all the foul weather hit Lake Conroe last week, the guys on the water for the Bassmaster Classic said the reservoir’s surface was green.
With all that new growth, it was surprising the pecan trees didn’t bud out until March’s last couple of days.
What, on God’s green Earth, does that have to do with the outdoors and springtime’s march to boat-launch ramps across the state?
Well, in south Louisiana fishing folklore, budding pecan trees means it’s time to put the full-court press on bluegill and chinquapin, or, for that last species, folks south of LaPlace call them “lake runners.”
There’s something in that belief: Pecans are the last of the nut-producing trees to sent out new leaves. It means the ground is warming, and, coincidentally, bluegill are the last of the sunfishes to move to the banks for their spawning rituals.
Tony Accardo, God rest his soul, explained this years ago. The man who put fly fishing on Louisiana’s map three generations ago, loved to work chartreuse and black No. 8 bugs next to a cypress stump in the canals off Lake Verret and work his magic.
Accardo even added something he called a “Bream Killer” under the surface bug to catch bluegill two at a time. He did this by tying 9-12 inches of 10-pound monofilament to the hook of the topwater bug.
So, this is time for the fly guys and gals, too.
This is easy fishing, and, as fishing goes, relatively inexpensive.
Light tackle is the rule. You’re not battling bass, although there are times when a hungry largemouth or a catfish will gobble a cricket or a nightcrawler dangling on a hook.
And it’s a good time to get youngsters hooked, too.
Cane poles, one of Salter’s jigging poles, ultralight tackle, a box of crickets and nightcrawlers, a handful of split shot and a couple of corks are all you need. An ice chest to take home these delightfully tasty fish for an Easter-time fry also comes in handy.
There are a couple more tips: Because the smaller sunfishes need warmth to hatch their eggs, cast to canals and bayou banks where sunlight hits the water. These fish will not seek the shade of overhanging willow and cypress limbs until after the spawn.
But when you find caterpillars spinning webs on willow limbs, make sure to make casts there because caterpillars falling to the water’s surface makes an easy morsel for bluegills moving from the depths to break their winter fast.
Another tip is when you catch one bluegill, don’t move. These guys bed in big numbers, and there have been times when a full day’s catch is spent in one 10-foot stretch of bank.
One more is that bluegill like crickets, and chinquapin prefer worms.
Make a calendar note
State Wildlife and Fisheries folks have scheduled April 22 for what they’re calling a statewide “Boating Education Lagniappe Day.”
It’s a no-fee chance to get a safe boating education certificate, and all of the nine locations will have food, drink, giveaways and door prizes.
State law mandates anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984, and planning to operate a boat powered by an outboard in excess of 10 horsepower, needs to carry proof of successful completion of a LDWF-approved boating education course.
The reason for this early notice is that some of the classes have limited space, especially those in high-populations areas, and spaces will fill on a first-come, first-served basis.
To register, go to the department’s website: www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/courses, then follow the links.
Boating course locations include:
- Cabela’s, 2200 W Cabela's Parkway (off La. 30), Gonzales;
- Madisonville Branch, St. Tammany Parish Library, 1123 Main St., Madisonville;
- Manchac Fire Department, 30221 U.S. 51, Akers;
- 1015 Amy Street, (next to the Town Hall), Henderson;
- Galliano District 3 Fire Station, 1762 West Main St., Galliano;
- and, Academy Sports and Outdoors, 3205 South MacArthur Drive, Alexandria.