When a hint of coolness starts staying in the air even during the day and football seasons are in full swing, you can bet there are sac-a-lait to be caught in the lower Atchafalaya Basin.
No one knows that better than Morgan City outdoorsman Bill McCarty, who is counting on the sac-a-lait to be in some specific areas, including Bayou Sorrel, this month.
McCarty, a St. Martin Parish School Board member who owns WHM Services, sampled some of that fine crappie fishing during a morning trip in Bayou Sorrel the first week of September.
He and brother-in-law Joe Pisani of Morgan City caught 66.
The Spillway, which rose in mid-August because of torrential rainfall that flooded much of the state Aug. 12-14, had fallen to highly fishable levels during the two days before the anglers went out — and they found beautiful water.
And if the Atchafalaya River stage falls below 3 feet at Morgan City through October, the sac-a-lait bite should be on, according to McCarty.
“I haven’t seen it this pretty in a long time,” he said of water conditions.
On that September trip, McCarty and Pisani busted the sac-a-laits’ chops on a soft plastic he was introduced to recently by an angler from Morgan City.
McCarty used a blue/white Luck E Strike Crappie Magic, a soft plasic artificial lure, while his brother-in-law used a brown/orange version of the lure.
They fished one of his favorite stretches along Bayou Sorrel — one of several potential hotspots in the Atchafalaya Basin in October.
He said sac-a-lait fishing success ought to be good from Belle River and southward, mostly in the main bayous, including West Fork and Middle Fork, Big Bayou Jesse, Mystic Crew and ZigZag Canal.
He’s partial to the Bayou Sorrel stretch from American Lake to the Intracoastal Waterway, he said.
“There will always be pretty water somewhere through there,” he said, noting that two of his favorite stretches are where Bayou April and Bayou February meet Bayou Sorrel.
McCarty will fish in and around the grass beds, mostly in 3- to 5-foot depths.
He’ll fish either a Luck E Strike or Poppa Chop adorned with a chartreuse Crappie Nibble.
On his 66-fish trip, he took advantage of a tip in Louisiana Sportsman and dehydrated the Crappie Nibbles, which made them harder.
He used an eighth of a jar while his brother-in-law went through a full jar of niblets, he said.
Whatever you put on the business end of your pole, fish it 18 to 24 inches below the cork because sac-a-lait come up for food, McCarty said.
The start of fall should trigger an even improved bite, he said.
“The water cools off and the fish get a lot more active,” he said.
Other artificial lures to try include white/red dot or yellow/black stripe Johnson Beetle Spins, a proven soft plastic the past five decades, and Blakemore Roadrunners, which also are very popular at Toledo Bend.