March 2012 - Volume 32, Number 3

Features

Redfishing just doesn't come any easier than at Rockefeller Refuge this time of year.

I was stuffed and still the food came. I wondered if Gunner Waldmann and David Bertrand were trying to kill me. First, Waldmann forced me to participate in a redfish blowout that morning. Then he hauled me to Shucks Seafood House in Abbeville, where owner Bertrand took over.

First came Sassy Shrimp, then raw oysters, Char-Broiled Oysters, Oysters Rockefeller, Oysters Shuck-a-feller, Candied Oysters and Oysters Supreme. Bertrand snapped his fingers and Shrimp Remoulade appeared, followed by samplers of Seafood Gumbo and Smoked Duck and Andouille Gumbo.

Somewhere between the Crawfish Etouffee and the Crawfish Tamales my gastronomical senses became overwhelmed, and while Waldmann and Bertrand chatted like the 35-year friends that they are, my mind wandered back to the morning’s fishing adventure.

Everybody knows the trestles are hot in April. Fewer anglers know that the party actually gets started on warm days in March.

The best way to have a fishing hole all to yourself is to fish it when nobody else is there. If that makes me sound like Captain Obvious, so be it. Sometimes the best advice is the simplest advice.

But when John Kendrick invited me to fish the train trestle on the east side of Lake Pontchartrain during March, I ha d to wonder if he was just a little bit too devoted in his desire to have a fishing hole all to himself. Because I had never given much thought to fishing the trestle before April or May, Kendrick assured me that we weren’t getting too much of a head start.

It’s not grain but fish that draw Northshore anglers to this annual hotspot.

Eddie’s “paaaw-ty barge” was aptly named already, but festooned in red, white and green and filled with green-clad revelers for the Irish-Italian boat parade on the Lower Tchefuncte River — well, the USS Paaaw-ty Barge was really strutting her stuff that afternoon.

March is known for its unpredictable weather, but only subtle bass-fishing changes are needed when a late-season front blows through.

Bass angler, beware the Ides of March.

Not that you have to look over your shoulder for a group of friends intent on stabbing you 23 times in the back, but for approaching cold fronts that can do enough damage to take you out.

For North Louisiana bass anglers in particular, March can be the best of times, or it can be the worst of times. Just as soon as you think you’ve got the bite pinned down, a cold front blows through and messes everything up.

Follow these anglers’ advice, and you may just be heading to the bank with a $10,000 check this month.

On the morning of March 10, anglers with great expectations will launch on either side at Doiron’s Landing in Stephensville hoping to land a heavy enough bag of bass to make the top 20 cut to fish the second day of the Louisiana Sportsman Open Bass Championship presented by Skeeter and Yamaha.

This time of year, marsh anglers turn their sights to the green trout that become ridiculously easy to catch.

Your guns have been cleaned, your hunting gear packed away. You have caught up on some much needed rest, watched the Super Bowl, endured Mardi Gras and finished your long honey-do list that accumulated over the fall hunting and fishing seasons.

Now what? Speck fishing is in the tank, and you’re not really a fan of sheepshead, drum and bull reds. Got cabin fever? How about catching green trout fever?

Follow Hopedale’s trout in their spring transition, and the only thing you’ll be eating is crispy fish fillets.

I am sitting in the dark in Silverfish Lodge’s boat shed waiting for my guide, Charlie Thomason, to return from an errand. Oyster boats, one after another, are chugging and puffing by in Bayou La Loutre, so close I could flip a coin onto their decks. They loom out of the dark like giant white wedding cakes, then recede down the bayou to meet their day’s destiny churning endlessly in circles over some remote oyster reef.

It’s hard to ignore this lake’s incredible crappie fishery, but if you can, you’ll watch your rod curl over some whopper bass.

Twenty-five miles south of Jonesville, Larto Lake is tucked into some of the best backwater fishing in the state. Late winter bass action on Larto, with its oxbow shape, is a jig fisherman’s paradise.

You don’t have to pay Carnival or Royal Caribbean to island hop in March. Just cruise on down to Dularge for some island hopping through trout-infested waters.

I wanted to time my trip to Dularge to see how long it would take and how many miles it was between my house in Kenner to Capt. Bill Lake’s camp on Bayou Dularge. It’s actually an easy drive down Highway 90 to the Houma/Highway 182 exit, and then follow 182 through Houma, past the Civic Auditorium, and as soon as you cross the high-rise bridge you take an immediate right to get to Highway 315, and turn left.

From there it’s about 20 miles to Jug’s Marina in Dularge, or in my case, I drove past Jug’s and went over the levee to Lake’s camp and boat sheds. Less than 70 miles by car, and about an hour-and-20-minutes drive time. Having to weave through downtown Houma from stoplight to stoplight on 182 is what slows the drive, but even so, it’s not a long delay.

Elevated positions afford redfish anglers optimal vision and response.

The prominent V wake was unmistakable, even from my camera boat positioned 50 feet from the anglers working a grass line.

Capt. Travis Holeman spotted this easy target well before I did and he also spotted a lot of subtle ones that I simply would not have seen — even if our boats had sat abreast to one another.

You may wait in line to fish Lacassine this month, but you won’t regret it for one minute.

People will travel long distances to get in line for just about anything when comes to fun, recreation and the many pleasures in life. Orlando, Fla., and hour-long waits for amusement rides at Disney World is one example. A favorite chain restaurant, where the wait to be served could be for an extended period of time, is another.

But an angler who finds it worth traveling to get in line and launch his boat for a shot at a lunker bass just may want to consider opening day and the months to follow at Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge.

Matt Fontenot shows the reason he doesn't mind waiting in line to fish Lacassine this month.