The Pier 90 parking lot is filled to the brim with the empty trailers of anglers determined to get a well-advised bite in. Lake Salvador had been so beneficial for the anglers the day before that word spread like a cold.
We had heard the fish were biting in Salvador, but were unprepared for what lay ahead on this gloriously sunny, warm Friday. As our boat neared the lake's northeast corner, we veered toward a cluster of boats fishing from 50 to 100 yards off of the shoreline. Their owners where standing with rod tips up.
"This looks like a good spot," said us newbies. And it was. We proceeded to catch 37 beautiful trout while taking pictures in between. Of the 50 boats in the area that day, most were catching fish, some even leaving with limits in the cooler.
This spot is well known as a fall fishing frenzy, but this is February, and the fish have been in the shallows around these parts for a large portion of the winter.
Guide Chad Daigle (504-689-2013) of the Lafitte Harbor Marina says that this is one of the best winters in Salvador he has ever seen, and fish should remain in the lake well into March.
"Business at the marina has been phenomenal, I have seen a great influx of people launching their boats here. It used to be the determined fishermen only that would fish the area, but now I see more and more Average Joes coming in to take a whack at the benefits," Daigle said.
The easiest way for St. Charles Parish anglers to get to the Northeast corner of the lake is to launch at Pier 90 Marina. From there it's a 25-minute boat ride down Bayou Verret, through Lake Cataouatche, through Bayou Couba, to Lake Salvador (see map).
There may be multiple reasons for this strange gear change of the normal winter fishing in Salvador.
Daigle says that the inconsistent cold of the winter may have played a part in it. "The weather would be frigid one day, and the next you could go out with shorts and a t-shirt," said Daigle.
Water temperatures never really got cold and the fish stayed in shallow areas where they were easily accessible like the northeast and southern banks of Salvador. Daigle says that it is abnormal for Salvador to hold as many speckled trout as it has this winter, and at such large sizes - many anglers have reported catching 2 to 3 pound fish.
The speckled trout moved into the lake well before the winter according to Bruce McDonald of Luling. For years the West Jefferson soccer coach caught redfish in the Lake but this past summer things changed. "We caught more speckled trout last summer more than any other time," says McDonald, who cranks up his fishing season at the end of April. .
McDonald says the Davis Pond fresh water diversion didn't seem to hurt the fishing. In fact, he thinks it helped. River nutrients have increased grass in the lake, cleaning up the water. "It's making the lake a better estuary for minnows, crabs, and fish," he said. That combined with saltwater intrusion after Katrina has brought speckled trout to Lake Salvador in record numbers.
The key to finding fish in Salvador is to find clean water. Fish the lee side of the lake - the northern bank with north winds and the southern bank with south winds. We fished on a calm day and had no trouble finding clean water. But Lake Salvador is notorious for rough conditions so anglers should be prepared to get wet if the wind starts howling.
We fished the Northeast corner over a large grass bed where the specks were chasing schools of mullet.
Once upon a school of trout, we fished until the bite subsided. This is not the fish saying they are no longer hungry but their prey item has moved and so must the determined fishermen.
A troll motor, paddle, or current is essential in this situation for it is foolish to start up your big motor and anger the fishermen around you while also scaring off your soon-to-be catch.
Daigle says he catches his fish on plastics, the most productive colors being chartreuse, black w/ chartreuse, tuxedo, black w/ white, purple w/ white, purple w/ chartreuse, glow w/ chartreuse, and avocado.
"I personally hope to hold this season as a feather in my cap for seasons to come," Daigle said.
|Photo by Ann Taylor|