Bayou Black, Grand Isle areas among week’s top fishing targets _lowres

Photo provided by JIM BREAUX -- Jacob Cowart from Denham Springs competes in the 7-10 year-old age group, the youngest set in the Junior Southwest Bassmasters' tournaments, and outcaught his fellow youth fishermen and their adult 'guides' in Sarturday's event held from Bob's Bayou Black marina in Gibson. Cowart brought in a five-bass limit weighing 9.24 pounds to win his division by more than four pounds. Dillon King's 8.04 pounds in the 15-18 age group was his nearest competiion among the near 30 youngsters fishing the monthly tournament, and Cowart bested the Adult Division's top stringer, a 9.12-pound catch brought in by Chad Varnado.

It’s easy to pick out this week’s fishing hot spots. Try the freshwater marshes in the Bayou Black area, and the interior waters a few miles east and west of Grand Isle.

There’s high water pushing in along the coast mostly because of the strong southerly winds of the past several days, but the folks with water under their camps at Grand Isle certainly will take these few days of water compared to the same system that dumped more than 15 inches of rain in southeast Texas.

The rush of fresh, salty Gulf water and the absence of rain helps speckled trout action, and when the winds calmed Saturday, catches, for the first time this season, were measured in limits.

What’s happened? Warmer, sunny days, warmed waters, and the south winds have pushed salty water and more shrimp in the marshes. Those factors come at a time trout are making their way to coastal areas in anticipation of the usual first spawning activity in May. Trout are hungry and shrimp provide the fat needed to trigger healthy growth of a female’s roe. Similar trout reports are coming from the Theriot area.

And trout are moving in Lake Pontchartrain, but we’ll need calmer days to get after specks on the bridges.

In all cases, soft plastics are the key, baits like cocahoe minnows, Deadly Dudleys, Matrix Shad, VuDu Shrimp and Gulp! Shrimp worked on jigheads in Pontchartrain, on the beaches and around points, and under a cork over shallow-water natural and artificial reefs.

Another note about lures: We’re running into the time when those small, white eels invade Pontchartrain. This explains why the original straight-tail Deadly Dudleys and Norton Sand Eels are big-time trout takers. It’s another example of matching the bait to what trout are eating.

In freshwater

The Denham spring-based Junior Southwest Bassmasters showed the way this week with 30 youngsters fishing in three age groups and their adult “guides” had an ultra-successful event on a windy, overcast Saturday from Bob’s Bayou Black Marina.

Like their saltwater brethren, they found high water, but reported back with several five-bass limits, including the overall winning 9.24-pound stringer weighed by Jacob Cowart in the 7-10 year-old group.

Club sponsor Jim Breaux reported most of the bass took spinnerbaits and chatterbaits, and because the high water pushed hyacinths to the banks, several of the heavier bass were taken by punching soft-plastic creature baits into this thick cover.

Young fishermen wanting to find out more about this group can call Breaux at (225) 772-3026.

The Delacroix area also turned in another top-drawer bass report. Grass is the key and working buzzbaits, swimbaits and weightless worms and topwater plugs accounted for two-angler 30-50 fish catches.

When the wind turns around this week, check out run-outs and points in the marshes for bass. With water stacking up in these two areas along with the Verret Basin and the Lafitte area, bass catches should be even better.

Shrimp opener

Beginning at 6 a.m. Friday, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will open the state’s “outside” waters to shrimpers. The area runs three miles seaward from the state’s Inside/Outside Shrimp Line in waters from the northwest shore of Caillou Boca west to the eastern shore of the Atchafalaya River Ship Channel at Eugene Island.

The opening comes after state biologists sampled the area and found marketable-sized white shrimp.

Need more? Call LDWF’s Jeff Marx at (337) 373-0032, or email: jmarx@wlf.la.gov.

The Wildlife and Fisheries Commission will set the spring inshore shrimp season at its May 5 meeting in Baton Rouge.

More on WMAs

The LDWF also announced Bayou Macon and Big Lake wildlife management areas in north Louisiana are open, but until flood water recede Mill Road, the year-round Hog Lake and Little Lake trails on Big Lake WMA will remain closed. Both WMAs were closed by floods March 17.

Archery instructor courses

Wildlife and Fisheries is offering six National Archery in the Schools Program basic instructor courses between April 29 and July 29 to acquaint teachers with the highly successful program in state schools.

State program coordinator Robert Stroede said teachers taking the 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. course will be certified in the NASP/Archery in Louisiana Schools program for grades 3-12 students in international target style archery as part of their in-school curriculum. Stroede said the curriculum is available to all schools in Louisiana, that there is no fee for the course and all training material and equipment are provided. He said class size is limited, and places are filled first-come, first-served.

Dates and locations include:

April 29, Ben’s Ford Christian School, Bogalusa;

May 7, St. Frances Cabrini School, Alexandria;

May 11, Jena Junior High, Jena;

May 26, Woodland Park Elementary, Hammond;

June 10 & July 29, Haughton Middle School, Haughton.

For more, call Stroede at (318) 484-2276 or email: rstroede@wlf.la.gov.

Website registration is available: naspbai.org/ClassSearch.aspx?country=US&state=LA

Bowhunter instruction

A LDWF-sponsored six-hour, hands-on Explore Bowhunting Instructor’s Workshop is set for 9 a.m. April 30 Haughton Middle School in Haughton. There is no fee and materials will be provided for the course concentrating on conservation education, interaction with wildlife and basic bowhunting skills.

Call program manager John Sturgis at (337) 948-0255, or email: jsturgis@wlf.la.gov for more information.

Florida’s reds

The latest from Florida is a one redfish daily limit in the state’s “northwest red drum management zone” effective May 1. The zone includes waters from Escambia County (Pensacola) through Fred Howard Park near Pasco County, basically the entire Flroida Panhandle . With a limit of one redfish already in effect in Florida’s “southwest management zone,” it means anglers can take only one redfish per day in Florida’s waters adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico.

The vote by Florida’s commission reflects public comment along with Florida Fish and Game staff data showing “stock assessment population estimates indicate numbers may have seen a decline at the conclusion of the assessment period (2013). The stock is still exceeding management goals in that area.”