In the hierarchy of fall fishing, sac-a-lait takes a backseat to bass in freshwater, and, along the coast, the much-anticipated move of speckled trout into the marshes.

Die-hard sac-a-lait anglers don’t understand why, because they know October through January, even in the bitter cold of early winter, south Louisiana sac-a-lait action is hard to beat.

The Atchafalaya Spillway and the Verret Basin are the two giant stretches of water providing the most opportunity, and you can add two more if Lac Des Allemands and Old River, the oxbow near Morganza, are closer to home.

If you want to make road trips, then the oxbows from Ferriday north along the Mississippi River, the Larto-Saline Complex near Jonesville, Pools 4 and 5 of the Red River (that’s from Shreveport-Bossier City south) and the deep-water haunts off the Sabine River bed at Toledo Bend Reservoir can we worth the time and effort, too.

The warning about Toledo Bend is that open water can get rough when the blue northerners push into the water bringing winter’s chill, and that’s because you have to go after sac-a-lait in water 30-50 feet deep to find the slab-sized, overwinter sac-a-lait there.

For now, the hottest sac-a-lait reports are coming from the “middle” waters of the Spillway, areas along and off Little and Big Pigeon bayous.

“Off” is the key word here: Canals tend to hold more sac-a-lait during the early fall and into the winter. And from late October through Thanksgiving, this species, like their sunfish family relatives, tends to move to shallower water to take advantage of sizable shad and minnow populations.

While some fishermen prefer to use shiners — and nobody knows why sac-a-lait, even those two pounds and heavier, like to eat small, two-inch baitfish to the larger ones — the dyed-in-the-wool sac-a-lait chasers live with two hard-and-fast rules when it comes to using artificial lures.

Tube baits, those two-inch-long pieces of soft plastic, come in only two colors for them, black head/chartreuse tail to be used in clear or slightly stained water, and blue head/white tail in muddy water. Some like solid bodies. Other like the hollow bodies, but both are threaded onto a one-sixteenth ounce jighead, sometimes smaller.

Something relatively new to this game is adding PowerBait (chartreuse color) Crappie Nibbles to the hook to add a little scent attractant especially when they’re fishing in relatively “thin” structure. Most of the action in the Atchafalaya is in heavy cover, like brushtops and the end of down trees, while most of the Verret Basin catches come from stumps in the lake or downed logs in the canals off Lake Verret and Grassy Lake.

After the water chills below 55 degrees, sac-a-lait move to the deepest structure they can find in the Spillway and Verret, but that’s not going to happen for at least two months.

Hunters give back

Acadiana-area hunters one-upped in a big way hunters from the Capital City area when Bob Giles reported Lafayette Hunters for the Hungry collected more than 9,700 pounds in early October to follow the more than 5,000 pounds donated in the Capital Area’s Hunters for the Hungry late-September Clean Out Your Freezer Day.

For the first time in the 20-year history of this collection, donors of frozen fish and game were eligible for a drawing. QDMA’s South Louisiana Branch donated a Thompson Center Venture .270 rifle fitted with a Nikon scope. Garrett Todd and his daughter, Ella, were drawn from the hundreds of donors. Todd hunts in Livingston Parish, and donated deer sausage and ducks.

Sighting in

Military veterans know their first live-fire training with their weapons came on a 25-meter course, and it was at that range they sighted their rifles. If you want to know the whys and hows military instructors sight-in at 25 meters, then go to this interesting website: www.military.com/video/guns/rifles/how-to-sight-a-rifle-at-25-meters/