As fall begins to make its presence this October, some of us will be getting our compound bows sighted in and changing the blades on our broad heads, while others will be drooling over the speckled trout that will be making their transition into the inshore lakes and bayous looking to recover from a long streak of spawning and gorging themselves in preparation for cooler temperatures as winter nears.
As the water cools and the winds begin to shift, kayakers can change their focus away from the skinny water red chasing that has been going on for the past several months and start focusing on saving the filet knives with some thin scaled speckled trout at the cleaning table.
I find that fall fishing is some of the best fishing. The trout move in, the bull reds stack up in the passes, and the flounder begin to make their run. It’s the Cajun Slam of great proportions when you play your cards right and when I’m looking for a full house, here are some of the places you will find one my yaks.
Delacroix (French meaning “of the Cross”) is a religious experience in itself, and during October it’s a great place to land a lot of redfish and some very lively largemouth bass by sticking to the Lake Leary area and surrounding marsh. You will find some very productive cuts prior to entering the lake running both north and south that lead to a couple ponds that can keep you busy landing fish while avoiding the hustle and tussle of a Yamaha 250 blowing by you at 70 mph. If trout is what your chasing then cross bayou Terre Aux Boefs and start heading south and southeast in search of some deeper canals that join marsh ponds and maintain a steady flow of current, if you can find them now. Come November, you can expect some big females will be lying in wait.
Lake Pontchartrain turns on every October. It starts with the first cold front and continues to heat up as the water cools down. An easy and productive kayak honey hole is the mouth of Bayou Lacombe. I find it to be a great spot to hit after work. Drive to the end of Lake Rd. in Lacombe or at the Lacombe Boat Launch and drop in and head to the channel markers at the mouth. I have found that when putting in at the end of Lake Rd, you can usually pick up a red or two and sometimes a Jack on the way to the mouth. Once you reach the mouth of Bayou Lacombe keep your focus on the western shore and the points, working your lures from the bank on out and along the channel ledge. Sometimes you have to search for the trout, but when you find them, get ready, because they travel in herds, not schools. There will also be times when the white trout stack up in this area and there is nothing better than an ice chest of trout both specs and whites before kickoff of our beloved LSU Tigers. If your fishing Bayou Lacombe, make sure to swing into Bayou Adventure and tell Shannon Hello. She is full of great reports and has everything from matrix shad to voodoo shrimp, live shrimp and heck, she even rents and sells kayaks and rod & reels.
A lot of beginner kayakers in south Louisiana get their feet wet somewhere around the Rigolets in Slidell. The Rigolets offers some great marsh fishing between west and east Double Bayou off of Geohegan canal and it also offers some open water if you choose to venture over into Lake Catherine or down the Rigolets into Stump Bayou. In October redfish can be found in and at the mouths of all the little cuts around the Double Bayous and working the ledges of the Rigolets pass, usually just outside of the crab trap buoys.
The bridges aren’t just for boats anymore either. Any day of the week you will find a couple of plastic fleet members that are trying their luck jigging pylons and waiting for the fall flounder run. This is the month where things start to heat up around the bridges, both the trestles and the I-10, and I have had success on both the North and the South Shore. If your patient and have the ability to learn the Pontchartrain Prance, you will pick up a wide variety of fish from red and black drum, sheepshead, hard heads and when you dance and prance your jig just right, there are some very fat speckled trout lingering down there.
Last but not least is good ole Grand Isle. The bull reds are in the passes and the speckled trout are beginning their run north. The rocks along the beaches are always productive this time of year and are usually full of redfish stalking prey all day long. Some of the inshore islands are holding trout right now. They will be at one island today and likely another island further north the next. Look for areas of geographic interest from the passes all the way into Leeville. Sometime the best Grand Isle fishing is actually closer to Leeville. Find the deeper passes that run the marshes and keep focused around points with moving water and bait activity.
This time of year everything is feeding on shrimp so do your best to match the hatch. My go to lures are Matrix Shad in Shrimp Creole and Tiger Bait rigged on Rockport Rattler Jig head, unless I’m in Lake Pontchartrain, then I use avocado with a red flake. I will jig the bottom with this set up or pop it under a cork, depending on what’s working better that day, and if I’m fishing with someone new to the sport, I always recommend live shrimp.
My mornings always start out with a top water lure: she pup, she dog, top dog, skitterwalk, or a spook. If it’s calm out and the water is smooth, choose a top water with a very subtle rattle. As the wind increases or a chop develops, move to a louder rattle. If it’s overcast, go dark. If the sun is shining, go natural. We all have our own rules for what and when. These rules are the ones passed down through several generations that have allowed me many days of success on the water. I can only hope that they will bring you success too.
Good luck and always wear a PFD.