Coming off a six weeks of rain, and coming into what appears to be the beginning of the “dog days,” it’s time to change your fishing strategy if you plan to catch fish the rest of the summer.
Plan on going early, if, for no other reason, than to get off the water — or off the bank or from the surf — by the time the sun gets high in the sky.
In freshwater and saltwater, it’s good to know shad and the menagerie of baitfish available to predator species along the coast are, most days, in shallow water at first light. So getting to your fishing spot early makes sense. And where there is forage, the predators are there, too, to make the most of prime feeding time.
Current and water movement make a difference as well as knowing when high and low tides are.
Summer high tides mostly occur in the morning and working the beaches and coastal bays 2-4 hours before high tides usually is the most productive time.
The exception is the Atchafalaya Basin: There was the strong belief among basin veterans that late afternoon produced the best action. Why? Because water in the rivers and bayous and canals in this vast system moves out in the afternoon, and moving water gets bait moving and gets bass, sac-a-lait and all panfish species ready to eat before sundown.
Because freshwater predators like to ambush prey, it’s good to know predators prefer dark areas because this allows them to silhouette something they want to eat. That’s why many of the better bass anglers will drop heavily weighted jigs into thick mats of water hyacinth and matted vegetation in search bass.
Otherwise, working spinnerbaits, soft plastics, jerkworms, jigs-n-pigs, crankbaits and jerkbaits in the shade of cypress, gum and willow trees, especially those near grassbeds, are another productive tactic.
For sac-a-lait, working shallows in low light is a must, because this species finds the deepest, thickest cover to live in after the sun rises.
You can look for bluegill and chinquapin in brushtops and heavy cover, too.
Early next week, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will begin a drawdown on Henderson Lake to control aquatic vegetation. The plan, beginning Aug. 2, is to draw 2-4 inches of water per day until the lake gets to 3 feet below pool stage with a projected gate closure set for Nov. 1.
This one-week notice should give houseboat owners enough time to make any preparation needed for their property, and the agency’s notice also indicated boating access will be available from private ramps along the southern levee.
LDWF managers said herbicide will be applied during the drawdown.
And, there’s more than a month before Wildlife and Fisheries, the False River Watershed Council and Pointe Coupee Parish will begin a Labor Day week drawdown on False River.
The plan is to draw 1½ inches per day to a maximum of 6 feet below pool stage with the control structure planned to close Jan. 15.
The lake will remain open to fishing and other recreational use, but, the agency warned, “... caution is advised for boaters during the low water period, as boat lanes will not provide normal clearance of underwater structures.”
Seven weekends into the recreational red snapper season, LA Creel estimates (through July 11) show the private and state charterboat sectors have taken 379,073 pounds — 45 percent — of our state’s 832,493-pound allocation. That’s up near 21,000 pounds from the July 4 estimate and appears to give Louisiana enough allocation to last through the Labor Day weekend.
The complete landings data is available on the Wildlife and Fisheries website: wlf.louisiana.gov/page/red-snapper
Come Aug. 1, recreational saltwater fishermen will be able to catch greater amberjack and gray triggerfish when seasons on those regulated species reopen in state and federal waters.
The amberjack season is scheduled to remain open through Oct. 31, while the triggerfish season is on the books to remain open through Dec. 31 unless data shows the catch has reached quotas set by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council thereby demanding a season closure.
Remember you need a fee-free Louisiana Recreational Offshore Landing Permit to keep these two species, along with many other reef fish species.
The complete 2021-22 hunting regulations pamphlet is available on the Wildlife and Fisheries website: wlf.louisiana.gov/page/seasons-and-regulations.
The printed pamphlet will be available at LDWF field offices and license vendors in August. The pamphlet lists major changes, all hunting season dates, limits, rules, regulations and information for all state wildlife management areas and federal lands in Louisiana.