March 2014 - Volume 34, Number 3


Big reds swarm the barrier islands this month, and here’s what you need to know to get in on the action.

So, I’m at this media event, at Theophile Bourgeois’ lodge in Lafitte. Bourgeois invited all his sponsors and a few media guys to spend a couple nights at his place, where he’d provide food and lodging, give us all a chance to mingle and talk shop, and then pile us into a fleet of bay boats to see if we could do more than talk the talk.

Fishing stories, product discussions and general conversation lasted late into the night between the couple dozen of us there, and after an early breakfast came the boat assignments. Call it the luck of the draw, but my assignment was to take a seat in Bourgeois’ Cessna float plane along with Mercury Marine’s Kevin Brown and Power-Pole’s Robert Shamblin for a flight out to the barrier islands for some March wade-fishing for bull reds.

Lake Boeuf north of Raceland is famous for its panfishing — and for being difficult to fish effectively. Here’s how some old-timers catch boatloads of fish.

One hundred-thirty years of experience.

That’s what my friend Dirk Matherne, no spring chicken himself at 58, had fixed me up with. It was a little intimidating, listening to the two silver-maned old lions comparing notes with Mike Adams, a Raceland dentist and Lake Boeuf lover. 

The younger of the pair, at only 73, was Steve Bourgeois. He’s been fishing the lake for 63 years. His uncle, Andrew Blanchard, at 82 didn’t start fishing the lake until he was 15, so he only has 67 years of experience.

Grass mats might drive some anglers crazy, but anglers in the know understand that big bass hide in that vegetation. Here’s how to drag them to the boat.

Back in 2009 during the Bassmaster Central Open held in the Atchafalaya Basin, Elite Series angler and local favorite Cliff Crochet punched grass mats to earn his first trip to the Classic.

The Pierre Part pro proved the technique, when employed correctly and used under the right conditions, can be a deadly tactic for putting weight on the scale. 

Basically fishing in his own backyard, Crochet employed the tactic with precision in the waters he grew up on. He used a heavy tungsten weight, a flipping hook and braided line — all basic elements required to punch grass for lunker bass.

You don’t need large acreage to score a big gobbler, if you know how to manage your property and employ the right strategy.

My return to turkey hunting after a 15-year hiatus was truly haphazard.

I had recently leased a 150-acre tract of land near Folsom for deer hunting and was scouting for deer sign in late winter trying to learn the lay of the land. What I discovered was startling: The deer lease was full of turkey sign, and I spotted several turkeys during my scouting trips.

With spring fast approaching, I thought a little turkey hunting might help me get more familiar with the new lease, but realistically my expectations were fairly low.

I was in for a real surprise.

Bay boats are great plaforms from which to fish, but this DuLarge guide also has a mud boat on hand to reach trout and reds big-boat anglers can’t this month.

Marty LaCoste likes things a little quiet.

According to my son, it’s so he can whisper to the fish exactly what he wants them to do.

When things get a little bit too loud, those trout can’t hear him as clearly.

That’s why the “Trout Whisperer” — my son’s nickname for LaCoste — went out and bought an 18-foot-by-60-inch Gator Tail aluminum boat with a mud motor on back.

Dragging multiple baits is the best way to up your odds of crappie when the bite gets tough, but there are some tricks to the trade. Here are the thoughts of two experts.

Any chef worth his salt understands the phrase mice en place, which means “everything in its place.”

This wisdom of order and placement also benefits crappie anglers seeking to cook up a hot day of slow trolling action.

We’ll save an in-depth bait analysis for later and focus here on the elements of deployment and presentation. Long-lining off the back of the boat might work in deeper, open-water scenarios, but the closer and more-controlled presentation of slow trolling — aka tight-lining — works best in most Louisiana crappie haunts.

Lake Des Allemands is full of more than bass, crappie and bream. These two locals know snapping turtles also lurk beneath the surface — and provide incredible table fare.

The huge, scaly beast — its massive body partially supported by the water — swim-crawled its way along the soft, mucky bottom. Its bear-like, long, black claws stirred up clouds of half-decayed vegetation and silt.

Bubbles of swamp gas rose lazily to the water’s surface.

The alligator snapping turtle was on the prowl — looking for something to eat. It wasn’t choosy. Acorns would be fine; so would crawfish, clams and even the stray crab. A smaller turtle, one whose shell it could crush with its massive cleaver-like jaws, would be tops on the list. 

New Orleans’ City Park is a popular jogging area, but this angler knows the lakes hold a lot of bass ­­— lunker bass. Here’s how he goes about dragging them to the banks.

I was in the heart of the urban jungle.

It was 4:30 in the morning.

The neon sign on the Morning Call coffee shop in New Orleans City Park blazed brightly, so it seemed open. But everything was dead quiet — no cars in front; no people visible inside. 

I ventured to the door, half-expecting it to be locked. It swung open, revealing an impressive mounted largemouth bass on the wall of the foyer. The label beneath it said it was 7 pounds, 14 ounces and had been caught by Mike Laviolette.

There’s more to spring bass fishing on Toledo Bend than picking lunkers off their beds. It’s also the perfect time to fish with plastic frogs, and these experts tell you how.

In Grimm’s Fairy Tales there is a story about a princess who made a deal with a frog who had secured her lost golden ball from the depths of a well.

All the frog asked in return was for the princess to love him, entertain him and let him be her constant companion.

The princess agreed, but once the ball was returned, she suddenly jumped up and returned to the castle without the creature.

The frog responded by visiting her castle and eventually gaining entrance. The king, upon hearing the terms of the deal, encouraged the princess strongly to make good her promise since she had given the medieval amphibian her word.

Are you ready for your time on the water? Here are some of the best fishing products being offered this year to help you maximize your efforts.

They haven’t invented any new fish that we’re aware of, but the fishing industry never lets us down in terms of new products to help us catch all those fish that we know and love.

So if you’re looking for new gear to help you catch more fish, there are plenty of options.

Nutria damage thousands of acres of Louisiana’s fragile coastal marshes each year, and here’s how you can help minimize that damage — one rodent at a time.

“The coyotes ate all the rabbits! The ducks got short-stopped! And the squirrels all live in woods leased by deer clubs who hate squirrel hunters! So how’s a kid supposed to scratch his hunting itch nowadays?” 

Artie was in another of his moods at Doc’s camp. 

“Oh, I don’t really mean hunting itch,” he continued after a hearty swig and a thunderous belch. “I mean blasting and killing itch. Oh, I know, I know. It’s not really ‘blasting and killing;’ it’s ‘harvesting,”’ he added with a smirk. “And I know, I know: It’s not all about the shooting. It’s about ‘the camaraderie, about learning sportsmanship and conservation principles, about watching the beautiful sunrise, the pretty roseate spoonbills, about blah, blah, blah.’ Sure — sure.

Toledo Bend already has turned out a number of double-digit bass, and Sulphur's Johnny Walker -- who has several lunkers to his credit -- tells you how to get in on the action.