Outdoor Report with Bruce McDonald

Best bank fishing: From Bayou Gauche to the Bonnet Carre Spillway, St. Charles Parish is home to hot fishing spots

Special to the Herald-Guide

March 18, 2009 at 3:13 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

SPILLWAY CRABBING. Michael Westbrook of Norco with a crab
he caught in Lake Pontchartrain.
Photo by Bruce McDonald
SPILLWAY CRABBING. Michael Westbrook of Norco with a crab he caught in Lake Pontchartrain.
St. Charles Parish is considered a small parish in the state of Louisiana, but when it come to the opportunity to be in the outdoors, it is one of the state’s giants.

The parish is surrounded by water. The La Branche wetlands and Lake Pontchartrain are on the North.

On the southeast side we have the Jean Lafitte National Park and Lake Cataouatche as a boundary. And to the south there is the Lake Salvador Management Area.

On the west side, there are Lac Petite Des Allemands, Bayou Des Allemands, Lake Des Allemands and Bayou Gauche.

To the northwest, the Bonnet Carre Spillway borders our parish.

In between, there are numerous waterways along highways and levees.

And not to worry, if you don’t have a boat, most of these areas are accessible to fish from the banks.

Owning a boat today can be very expensive.

So when confronted with this obstacle and a love to wet a line, all one needs is a fishing license, rod-n-reel, tackle box, ice chest, and a vehicle.

Here’s the hottest fishing spots in St. Charles Parish.

Highway 61

After exiting I-310 to Highway 61 -heading North to Norco, there is a 5-mile stretch of a canal that parallels the roadway.

The canal has approximately 10 feet of water in some spots. Downed treetops hold sac-a-laits, bass, bream, catfish, garfish and choupique, also known as a bowfin.

Any artificial lure used for a specific species will work in the gin-clear water. John Storey of Laplace fishes the canal regularly and catches his share of sac-a-laits, bass, bream and catfish. Last week he caught a 4-foot garfish.

Bonnet Carre Spillway

The Bonne Carre Spillway encompasses 7,623 acres, located on the Northeast side of St. Charles Parish. Access is made along Highway 61 on top of the levee.

There are two boat launches. If you stay on top of the levee for approximately 4 miles, it will take you to Lake Pontchartrain.

There are numerous locations on the east and west side of the spillway to stop and fish.

Lance Carter of New Sarpy, who was fishing the spillway this past Sunday said, "Last week I caught plenty of sac-a-laits and bass."

When I reached Lake Pontchartrain, I walked out on a man-made peninsula and witnessed Trenton and Michael Westbrook of Norco catching crabs.

The pair had three chicken necks. One at the end of each line set out 10 feet apart.

Using a long handle net, they pulled up the chicken neck slowly and scooped up crabs that were hanging on.

Each chicken neck had 4 to 7 crabs each. And it didn't take long to fill their ice chest.

Michael with his red hair and big smile said, " This was his best day of catching crabs."

Getting back on Highway 61, I checked out a group of men at the spillway boat launch.

Brian Joubert, Dino Barriant, Randy Billings and James Howard were crabbing off the dock.

They used the same method of a line and chicken necks but weren’t catching crab like the people at the lake.

Soon they were joined by Colin and Evan Knoblock, all of Norco.

If you’re bored, any weekend during the spring some type of outdoor activity is taking place in the Spillway. ATV riding, dog training, model airplane flying, or crawfishing.

Killona Crevasse

The Killona Crevasse sits in the southwest corner of the Parish. In 1927, a great flood devastated Louisiana. The mighty Mississippi River broke through its levee containment and flooded this “Sportsman’s Paradise.”

One mile above Killona on Highway 18, a small gravel road crosses the Levee. On the other side is an oxbow lake created by the break in the levee 82 years ago.

The water is deep and rises when the river floods.

Michael Jackson was sitting on his white bucket when I arrived.

We talked about the water and fishing conditions. His best advice was, "Wait ‘til the water comes up and you can catch big catfish."

Jackson’s largest catch was a 35-pound catfish that he reeled in last spring in Killona.

He also catches a lot of bass, bream, sac-a-lait, catfish, hybrid stripers, and occasionally a spoon-bill catfish.

Jackson was quick to remind me that spoon-bill catfish are illegal to catch, so he releases any that get caught on his line.

I fished with Michael for about an hour and noticed that he likes to use a white Roadrunner, earthworms and a gold top water bait, similar to a Rapala.

Jackson says that he finds peace when fishing in the Killona Crevasse and likes to watch the bald eagles.

Pier 90

Head east on Highway 90, cross the second bridge on the right, and you’ve reached Pier 90. And for a $2 fee, you can fish off the banks.

Good catches of bass, bream, sac-a-laits and catfish are nearly guaranteed when the water is moving out.

Use plastic worms for bass, mini-jigs for sac-a-laits, and earthworms for catfish.

March 17 marked one year since Pier 90 attendant Terry Rudolph passed away due to a heart attack.

Rudolph always had time to talk to fishermen and tell you where to fish and how to catch them. His wife, children and area sportsmen miss him.

Bayou Des Allemands

Located in the western end of the parish, take Highway 90 west for 12 miles and go into the business district of Des Allemands.

Turn one block before the bayou - right takes you north and left takes you south.

Depending on the time of year, bream, bass and sac-a-lait can be caught around any of the three bridges. The best fish to catch is the catfish.

Des Allemands catfish like to school between the bridges anywhere from 12 to 16 feet deep.

A slip cork system with a weighted No. 2 catfish hook and earthworms works best. Sometimes fishing off the bottom will also do the trick.

Bayou Gauche

In English, Bayou Gauche translates to “left bayou.”

It is located in southwest portion of the Parish. To get there, take Highway 90 west to Paradis.

Turn Left onto Highway 306, also known as Bayou Gauche Road, and travel 5 miles.

When you reach the water, find a spot along the roadside.

The water is clear along the bayou. Grass beds hold a lot of fish. Bass, bream, sac-a-lait and catfish can be caught in these areas. Bass like the spinner baits and plastic worms.

Bream will hit earthworms, crickets and grass shrimp. Sac-a-lait like mini-jigs - blue and white, and black and chartreuse, and grass shrimp. Catfish will consume earthworms, market shrimp and cheese.

Mississippi River

The Mississippi River runs through the middle of St. Charles Parish, and getting to the river is problem in some places.

My suggestion is go to the Bonnet Carre Spillway. There is plenty of area to fish on the riverside. Look for a spot where the water is eddying.

Fish will stack up in these areas because they don't have to fight the current.

What will you catch? Mainly catfish. Gaspergous , fresh water drum, are also plentiful in this area.

Other varieties include the paddlefish, carp and occasionally a hybrid-striped bass. Best baits are earthworms, grass shrimp, river shrimp and market shrimp.

Every one I met at each of SCP’s fishing spots was taking life slowly, contemplating the world, but they weren’t in a hurry, and did not own a boat. Fishing was their joy.

REELING ‘EM IN. Pictured are the winners of the Lake Cataouatche Bass Tournament held at Pier 90 last weekend, Dustin Lowery and Dustin Chanpagne. For a complete list of St. Charles Parish fishing spots, read Bruce McDonald’s Outdoor Report on page 1B.
       



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