Sac-a-lait season is in full swing in south Louisiana. This means the little fish are spawning and using up energy reserves causing them to be more aggressive than usual for a meal.
Spawning sac-a-lait coupled with times of low atmospheric pressure will cause them to strike at most things you can throw their way.
In other words, going after the sac-a-lait right before a storm hits during the early spring is a sure-fire way to fill the ice chest with some tasty fillets.
Ty Hibbs, a steadfast recreational fishermen from Kenner, has been fishing Lake Cataouatche for the past couple of weeks and has been loading up on sac-a-lait every day he’s been out.
“I wouldn’t go out after a front goes through,” Hibbs said. “High pressure makes them feel like their heads are about to explode or something. They just don’t like to move around a lot when the pressure is high and they get lazy.
“I think that’s why they get so aggressive right before a storm, the pressure is low and they know they won’t be able to feed after the pressure rises again.”
Hibbs says that some of his best sac-a-lait trips in Cataouatche and in areas around Des Allemands have been when it was raining or right before a big storm rolled through the area.
“During low pressure situations you can cast two or three times in one area and if you don’t get a strike the fish just aren’t there,” Hibbs said. “The fish are just that aggressive.”
From now through the next few weeks, water clarity permitting, is the time to go out and rack up on sac-a-lait. The water temperature has reached premium spawning temperature, according to Hibbs.
“When the water temperature is around 65 degrees they start spawning. They’re in the middle of spawning right now,” Hibbs said.
Sac-a-lait are less mobile than most fish and are ambush predators that prefer deeper water. This means that anglers should be able to hone in on their locations easier than if fishing for largemouth bass.
In Cataouatche, Hibbs catches his sac-a-lait where the bank drops off and there is some kind of natural structure present in the canals surrounding the lake.
“They only feed in clear water, don’t even bother with muddy water,” Hibbs said. Likely areas where clear water can be found this time of year near Cataouatche include West Canal and Louisiana Cypress Canal. Anglers can also try North Canal, The Fence, Alligator Pond and 100 Bass Point in Salvador WMA. In Bayou Gauche, look for clear water in Mecom Canal. In Des Allemands, try Humble Canal.
“I don’t find that water movement really matters much, but structure is important,” Hibbs said. “Sac-a-lait may stay by the same tree their entire lives. We mostly catch them in three to six feet deep water near gum or cypress trees.”
When choosing his bait for catching sac-a-lait, Hibbs will go a traditional route with micro-jigs but will also go a little unconventional with a Ultra-Violet Matrix Shad on a 1/8 ounce jig head or a No. 1 or No. 2 blade for larger crappie.
“Just work that matrix shad past a tree and those bigger crappie will smash it,” Hibbs said. “I’ve seen a crappie hooked up on a matrix shad even though it couldn’t even fit half of the thing into its mouth.”
When the water temperature rises into the mid 70s, the spawn will be over and the sac-a-lait will get into the shallower canals and will become less aggressive. This is the window of opportunity for anglers to get out and fill their refrigerators with crappie fillets.