Sac-a-lait

Preston Salter, left, and Beau Simoneaux show off their 'trophy' sac-a-lait catches taken from a pond near Belle Rose. The two 7-year-olds have become fast friends after sharing several Sunday afternoons fishing ponds on Beau's family land.

Monday is, and has been for generations of south Louisiana freshwater fishermen, a benchmark day.

It’s that March 9, the date, is extra special, it’s that March’s full moon comes on this March 9.

Need an explanation?

While there’s a handful of folks who try to debunk the full-moon cycle, there are many, many more among us who believe the first big spawn of the season happens around the lunar period.

Of course, water temperature and water clarity are other major factors, and, somehow, someway, species like sac-a-lait and bass seem to be able to put all those factors together and proceed to make their babies.

Rain and muddy water have contributed to what Blaine Salter said Friday, “are sporadic catches in most of the good sac-a-lait spots.”

Salter, who took over from his dad, J.B.’s Erwinville-based Salter’s Jiggin Poles business, said he talks with as many as 15 panfishermen each week and reported days of decent action followed by days of, well, when staying at home would have been the better option.

“We know the sac-a-lait are getting ready to spawn. We know the males (sac-a-lait) are coming in, so we know it’s close,” Salter said. “I talk to David Pizzolato almost every day, and he tells me he’ll catch 10 (sac-a-lait) one day and nothing the next. The conditions seem to change every day.” (Pizzolato is one of the most ardent sac-a-lait catching experts around.)

More explanation: for sac-a-lait and bass, it’s the males that move to the shallower water to prepare spawning beds. When all conditions are “go,” the males push a female to the spawning beds for her to deposit eggs. The male fertilizes them and, voila, we have more fish.

Maybe that’s why Salter has been taking his son, Preston, to lakes in the Napoleonville area lately. It’s there where he meets Daniel Simoneaux and Simoneaux’s nephew, Beau, for Sunday afternoon battles with sac-a-lait and bluegills.

There’s a hint here: ponds and small lakes usually clear faster from the muddying effects of cold rainwater and usually the water warms faster on the proceeding sunny days. So, if you know someone with a pond, go, and make sure you follow the guidelines for that pond, like taking all the green sunfish from the water, or thinning out the sac-a-lait population.

The virus

After putting off writing about what effects the coronavirus could have on our economy for about a month — check the stock market lately? — Salter said he’s had delays in getting his new rod, the “Elite” jiggin pole, from manufacturers in China.

“I was hoping to have some for the (Louisiana Sportsman) show (Thursday through Sunday, Lamar Dixon in Gonzales), but shipment has been delayed,” Salter said. “I had 200 of them, and 300 more came in, but I blew through them at a show in February. The coronavirus is delaying the shipment.”

Aside: Salter said he’s reintroducing J.B.’s first jiggin pole, a fiberglass model at the Sportsman Show.

Just last week, fishing-tackle giant Shimano announced its trade-show personnel will not attend the ongoing Bassmaster Classic Expo in Birmingham, Alabama, the Houston Fishing Show or the Fred Hall Long Beach.

Shimano’s statement: “After significant deliberation, Shimano has decided to not attend these shows due to escalating concerns about the coronavirus and any potential post-show quarantine for our team. The health and wellness of our employees and continuance of our business are our top priorities in this continually developing situation.”

Take note fishermen — and not to start another “panic” situation — because thousands of fishing items are produced in China, this attention to the growing caronavirus threat could make some fishing items scarce in the coming months — “could” is the operative word here — but you might want to find some of your favorite tackle today.

Remember, too, there are other fishermen in our communities, so don’t be a hoarder like those folks who swept the shelves of hand sanitizers last week.

High school fishing

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association is one of five state athletic organizations sanctioning high school bass clubs and tournament, and the LHSAA held its first tournament Saturday, a Region 2 event on Toledo Bend. Just last week, Georgia became the fifth state to certify bass fishing as a sanctioned high school sport.

The rest of the schedule includes March 14 tournaments for Region 1 at Hooks Marina on Caney Creek Lake; for Region 3 from the Berwick Launch in Atchafalaya Basin waters; and, for Region 4 from Bayou Segnette State Park in Westwego.

Know this is short notice, but schools’ teams must register by 8 a.m. Monday for the March 14 events. Schools are allowed to enter six boats/teams for each event.

The registration website: HighSchoolFishing.org.

The top 10 teams from each of the four regionals, plus one boat/team for every 10 boats over 50 competing in each region, will advance to the LHSAA State Championship set April 3-4 on Cross Lake near Shreveport.

Turkeys

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is offering turkey lottery hunts on those wildlife management areas where lottery applications left available spots. The deadline to purchase these first come-first served “leftover” hunts is March 13.

Go to the LDWF’s website: https://la-web.s3licensing.com/. There is a $5 application fee and a $2 transaction fee.

For more, email David Hayden at dhayden@wlf.la.gov.