February 2013 - Volume 33, Number 2


Birthing the New Orleans Big Game Fishing Club wasn’t a whim — it only came about through a lot of work and the dreams of one man convinced that Louisiana offshore waters could be famous.

Louisiana is blessed in all things that come from the water. Its reputation as a seafood-producing and consuming state is unequaled.

The first European explorers of what is now the state were amazed at the quality and quantity of freshwater fish present. Recreational saltwater fishing in Louisiana’s coastal waters, lakes and bays has long been the best in the United States.

Perhaps the abundance of these resources prevented the early development of deep-sea, big-game fishing.

When the sane folks gang up around deep holes in Pointe-aux-Chene’s sulphur mine, this fishing guide heads to the shallows to catch topwater trout.

Yogi Berra is credited with saying, “It’s like deja’ vu, all over again,” which was precisely what I was thinking on a recent frigid morning as I stepped into the parking lot at Basson’s Boat Launch in Galliano. The air temperature gauge on my truck read 38 degrees when we left that morning, but it was predicted to warm up into the mid 50s. I had arranged a trip to fish with charter Capt. Gordon Matherne (985-758-2824), and we got in line behind several others waiting to launch. I mentioned that it was hard to believe so many people were fishing on such a damp, grey and miserable day, but Matherne said the Sulphur Mine can produce some great fishing in the deeper water on days like this one.

Don’t wrap the 2012-13 deer season until you do some scouting this month. It might provide a picture that leads to success next fall.

My imagination would not allow me to complete connect-the-dot books.

The problem wasn’t the scattered array of dots; they presented a nice little challenge. Instead, it was the parts of the picture the publisher had already filled in that lost me.

Why bother connecting the dots if I could already mentally see the big picture before I ever picked up a pencil?

The 2012-13 season didn’t seem to be as productive as the past couple of years in terms of trophy bucks, but there were still some monster deer grounded. Here is a rundown of some of the biggest.

The 2012-13 hunting season opened with real promise, as the past couple of years produced dozens of absolute hammer bucks.

Almost 50 of these trophies hit the ground during the 2011-12 season ­— and that’s just the ones we found out about.

It might be bordering on stupidity to throw a lipless crankbait all day long around Caddo Lake’s grass beds, but it’s the perfect tactic to catch big, wintertime bass.

Lipless crankbaits are not for the cowardly.

With all those exposed treble hooks, the faint-hearted have a hard time seeing past the snag waiting to happen.

On the other hand, the lion-hearted are able to look past potential pain and see the largemouth light at the end of the tunnel.

Therefore, the timid might as well find someplace else to fish during February rather than head to Caddo Lake.

Why tough it out in the marshes trying to catch reds and specks when you can head just off the coast for no-limit fishing for sheepshead, which your grandparents considered to be one of the best fish in the Gulf?

The call to Doc Fontaine seemed perfunctory, a mere formality — almost pointless. After all, traditionally, mooching a Grand Isle camp for a weekend in February ain’t too hard.

It’s not exactly the height of the tourist season.

“Pelayo will be by to pick up the camp key a little later,” I quipped. “His cousin Zack’s in from Atlanta for Mardi Gras. We’re taking him on a sheepshead meat haul. Pelayo’s also bringin’ ya some of our famous sheepshead ceviche and some button-buck fajitas, as requested by Trisha.”

When most anglers pick up a spinnerbait, they’re likely to be trying to catch redfish or bass. But these anglers know trout will also fall for the bladed baits.

After picking up the third speckled trout in a row on a spinnerbait, I looked at Ken Chaumont and said, “This ain’t coincidence anymore.”

He, too, was surprised but not shocked, as the angler was working spinnerbaits for marsh reds — not trout.

The specks, however, bit steadily.

“That’s a good trout,” Chaumont said to me while admiring a fish that made him think it was a redfish at first. “What’s the matter with you? Never saw a trout caught on a spinnerbait before?”

The prespawn can be maddening, as cold fronts roll through and impact the bass bite. Here are some tips from the pros to help fill out your stringer, even when things get tough.

Pickles and ice cream, donuts with lots of sprinkles, Cheese Whiz and anything with chocolate — pregnancy cravings are a fact of life, for a soon-to-be mom eating for two (or more).

Expectant bass might not crave anything odd, but they’re all about packing their bellies for their forthcoming spawn. Learn where and how to locate these fish and you can, ahem, “expect” your own delivery of rod-bending fun.

First, consider the basics of where they’ll spawn. Creeks, coves, backwater canals. Pretty much any shallow habitat with good sunlight and some type of cover will do.

Bill Davis is best known as the guitarist for the band Dash Rip Rock, but when he’s not on the road touring he spends his time fishing in Louisiana’s marshes.

Roughly 15 hours of every day of my childhood were spent fishing in Southwest Florida. In my late teens, I put aside the rod after picking up the guitar.

For the rest of my life, all my friends would be musicians. This pool of musician buddies quadrupled upon my 2001 move to New Orleans.

It wasn’t until recently at the age of 38 that I again heard the call of the water, recognized the void in my life, and started asking around, trying to find musician buddies who could pass on to me the unique secrets of Louisiana fishing.

Want to catch bigger and better numbers of crappie? This veteran crappie angler has it all figured out.

He called it "venture fishing." I called it a few choice words I can't write here. But before me lay an extremely, thick tangle of small, long branches sticking atop the water from a submerged, major artery of a tree. The trick of the moment was getting a small, 2-inch, white/chartreuse-tail Wedgetail Minnow somewhere in a hole in the thicket with a very light, sensitive, fragile fly rod 8 1/2 feet long.

It's time to brush the dust off the boat and catch some fish! Learn where and how to catch bass, speckled trout, crappie and more. Also learn about the stories behind biggest deer killed during the 2012-13 hunting season.