The sun is moving into the southern sky, the morning temperatures herald a change from what was a blisteringly hot summer into what should be a much more comfortable season, and it’s sac-a-lait time.
There was no better person to make the announcement than Blaine Salter, the son of the famed jiggin’ pole impresario J.B. Salter (God rest his soul).
“You know the water is still hot, but we’re getting close to the time when every sac-a-lait fisherman in the United States will be on the water,” Salter said after posting a photo of a man-sized fish he pulled from a brushpile in Lake Verret.
“You just have to be patient. You have to wait on the fish,” he said. “Sac-a-lait will be more active when the water gets cooler and that will mean more opportunity for the fishermen."
The sun moving down in the sky is a key. It means fewer hours of sunlight and that the sun’s rays won’t penetrate as deeply into the water. And when colder rain announces the arrival of another of fall’s cold fronts, water temperatures will decline.
There’s more: Sac-a-lait like to hide in the shadows for comfort and to better ambursh prey. Decreased sunlight penetration means these predators tend not live in the thickest of the thick brushtops and other underwater structures, and they will find life more tolerable in shallower depths.
“Even better is that the days will be prettier, and definitely not as hot,” Salter said. “And fishermen will have a better chance because the hunters are gone and hunting season eliminates half the people on the water.”
Salter said he’d pick three spots for action during the next couple of weeks — the “other” Pointe Coupee Parish oxbow Old River, Lake Verret and Belle River.
“Fished with David Pizzolato, and he’s a pro on Lake Verret,” Salter said. “And he said it would be different.”
Different meant working a jig under a cork and in the middle of a brushpile.
“You have to watch the cork for the slightest movement,” he said. “Thank goodness the water was calm because the fish barely moved the cork. When you set the hook the entire brushpile would come alive.”
There was more. Water depth was a factor, and it played into another key to catching fish or coming home empty-handed.
“We found 5-6 feet of water, but you had to find the (brush) tops and the old cypress trees pointing into the middle of the lake — not parallel to the shoreline — because that meant one end of the top or the log was in deeper water,” Salter said. “We were fishing 2-3 feet off the bottom and the fish had to come up and hit the bait. And you had to be patient, and it would be difficult to use a casting rod to get to the right spots.”
He said the same thing applied to Old River, the area along the tree lines in Mondieu Lake.
“The fish are a couple of feet off the bottom in 6-7 feet of water and what you have to do is to fish 3-4 feet down under a cork,” Salter said. “Don’t work the cork too much. Move it and wait until the bait comes directly under the cork and you have to allow time for the bait to get underneath the cork and the fish will come up to get it.
“The average guy will struggle to catch fish at Old River — it’s on a small rise now — and unless you know where the brushtops are in 10-12 feet of water, fishing Mondieu can produce fish,” he said.
And the best colors?
Black and chartreuse and what he called “baby shad” color and one of Pizzolato’s favorites a Bass Assassin black and sparkle jig.
“Right now, a tadpole shaped bait will work because that’s what the sac-a-lait are keying on, a bait with a fat body and a slim tail,” Salter said. “And, remember, be patient. The best days are coming soon.”
Aside: Blaine’s mom, Betty, died Friday. She and J.B. were married 60 years, and helped J.B. establish Salter’s Jiggin Pole and Tackle in Erwinville.