Outdoor Report with Bruce MCDonald

Stormy weather reels in Lake Cataouatche Sac-a-lait: Friday the 13th proves to be a lucky day for anglers, fish bite below the Louisiana Cypress Canal treetops

Special to the Herald-Guide
February 19, 2009 at 9:49 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Outdoor Report with Bruce MCDonald
It's been two years since I have made a good catch of sac-a-laits.

It was 4:30 p.m. on Friday the 13th, 72 degrees, overcast, light west winds, a threat of rain, but it was time to go fishing.

After all, my dad once told me, "When the sky looks like it's about to fall, go fishing."

Most fishermen would not venture out on those days my dad would talk about, and I made a bunch of phone calls to friends, but not one person wanted to go with me.

But I hooked up the Kenner-VX and headed out anyway.

I put the boat in the water at the new boat launch at Pier 90, cranked up the 125-Merc and eased back to the dock.

When I reached the dock I tried to step out the boat and tie up the bow, but my left foot was tangled on the anchor rope and down I went.

I landed on the dock with my shoulder hitting first. Thankfully, George and Courtney came running over to help me up.

I was in great pain, but still determined to fish for the one and only sac-a-lait.

Although I could barely lift my left arm, I was now headed to the Louisiana Cypress Canal in Lake Cataouatche.

It was a 15-minute run from Pier 90. And since the curse of Friday the 13th had struck once at dock, my thoughts turned to fishing and if I was going to catch any.

When I reached an area with small treetops lying in the water, I shut the Merc down.

I began throwing the red, white and chartreuse mini jig under a cork about 18 inches below.

A strong rainstorm pushed my boat against the bank next to a large treetop, so I put my rod down to put on my rain suit, all the while watching the cork go under. I had a bite.

I quickly set the hook with my right hand and pulled in about a 1.5-pound sac-a-lait.

I quickly dropped the anchor and fished around this large treetop in the rain.

I put eight fish of the same size in the boat, but as soon as the rain stopped, so did the fish.

I looked down the canal and saw a few more treetops and used the trolling motor to fish them.

By sunset I had 20 large sac-a-laits in the live well.

Knowing the sac-a-laits were in the canal, I decided to leave and fish Saturday afternoon after we made a rabbit hunt.

The next morning, a strong line of rainstorms moved through St. Charles and Jefferson Parishes forcing us to cancel the rabbit hunt.

And on Saturday afternoon, Matt Jewel, John Brady, Donnie White and I made a return trip to the Louisiana Cypress Canal. We arrived at 2 p.m. and started fishing 400 yards from the spot I caught the sac-a-laits the afternoon before.

We were looking for treetops, brush piles, clumps of grass under the water line, and breaks in the grass line and dropping the red, white and chartreuse mini jig around the structure.

With short jerks and small pops of the cork the sac-a-laits found the bait irresistible.

One after the other, each person in the boat pulled in their share of fish.

If John would catch a fish, Donnie was throwing next to John.

At one time I had John, Donnie and Matt fishing in the front of the boat next to me.

We were like a bunch of brothers ribbing each other and having a great time.

The live well filled up fast, so we began selecting only the larger sac-a-laits to keep.

At sundown we headed back to the dock with over 60 sac-a-laits.

On Sunday morning a cold front pushed through Southeast Louisiana changing the fishing conditions. The sac-a-laits had turned off.

Brady, Hunter McDonald and Seth Jensen made another attempt that afternoon, catching only seven sac-a-laits.

A good number of sac-a-laits had bulging bellies. This was an indication of spawning females.

Sac-a-laits migrate into canals and secluded areas twice a year when water temperatures reach 70 degrees to spawn.

We are in the height of this spawning period. Temperatures will fluctuate and so will the spawning periods.

Watch the weather and check water temperatures. On warm days, artificial works the best and fish will feed more aggressively.

On colder days, fish will bite better on live bait, such as shiners and grass shrimp. Sac-a-laits, bass, bream, and catfish fishing will be great within the next two weeks.

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