It was time for one of those False River trips, an annual adventure to gasp at one of Mother Nature’s wonders.
As noted Thursday, the shad spawn is on in this near-to-Baton Rouge oxbow lake — it’s happening elsewhere, but in flooded waters — and this shallow-water frenzy usually brings springtime-hungry bass and other predators to gorge on these 2-3 inch-long fish.
Steve Fontana knew right where to go: the bulkheads on the island side of the near 14-mile long lake were bubbling with the little fish. It was difficult to count their numbers, but in a 50-yard stretch there must have been at least 100,000 shad boiling all over each other in an annual ritual to increase their numbers.
So, like is done in most other fishing pursuits, you match the forage with the lure, and it’s always a small, white spinnerbait with a little flash in the skirt, or a small, soft-plastic grub-looking bait rigged on a light jighead. You know, something to imitate a love-happy minnow.
Thursday wasn’t the day for bass: It had been all week, but there were larger fish feeding — catfish — and catfish by the hundreds jamming their way into the bulkheads’ crevices with wide open mouths to inhale as many of the shad as they could in one gulp.
It was a sight to behold.
It lasted for about 90 minutes, and, maybe 45 minutes after the sun cleared down, the spawning in shallow waters was over for the day.
“The shad spawn will go all the way into June in some places,” Fontana said. “It’s not just here. You see in Belle River and other places in the Verret area. I know it happens other places, but I know what happens in False River and Verret, and, most days, the bass will be in there very early to eat the shad.”
Evidence of the shad spawn showed up when Fontana pulled his bass boat up the Morrison Parkway’s public landing in New Roads. Shad eggs covered the lower unit on his outboard and the foot of his trolling motor, too, which prompted gentle scraping onto a towel and releasing as many of the eggs as possible back into the water.
Thing was, this was supposed to be a bass trip. Zilch, but False River veteran “Brother” Pourciau was striking out that morning, too, but he showed a cricket basket knowing all too well that catfish make a tasty meal.
The Wildlife and Fisheries Commission finalized the 2019-20 resident game, the wildlife management areas, the waterfowl/migratory bird hunting and the 2020 spring turkey seasons, rules and regulations during Thursday’s meeting.
Ratifying these seasons meant the LWFC turned back an amendment which would have changed the specklebelly goose season, which will run 88 days — North and South zones Nov. 3-Dec. 2 and Dec. 15-Feb. 10 — with a daily limit of two birds.
The complete season frameworks are listed on the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ website: wlf.louisiana.gov/action-items.
Lafayette resident Dusty Guidry attended his first Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting after being appointed to fill the spot vacated by Lake Charles’ Bart Yakupzack whose at-large term ended in April. Gov. John Edwards announced the appointment Wednesday.
Guidry is the director of Pretrial Services for the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s office, is a member of the Coastal Conservation Association, Ducks Unlimited and the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, and serves on the Cajundome Commission in Lafayette.
It starts here
The first in a long line of spring and summer saltwater fishing rodeos begins in two weeks with the 13th Italian American rodeo from the Hopedale Marina. Details are listed in the Outdoors Calendar. Groups can send info on rodeos to firstname.lastname@example.org.