In the wintertime, it’s inevitable you’ll work all week while staring outside looking at static trees without a puff of breeze. But once Saturday rolls around, the winds will be blowing 30 mph from a front that came through Friday night, which also dropped the water temperature by 10 degrees — deplorable conditions.
And, at first glance, Lake Pontchartrain and the surrounding area might look like the last place you want to spend your $10 launch fee.
However, Chas Champagne of MatrixShad.com said the Bypass Canal can be a gem directly following a front.
“It’s one of those places you use when everything else is messed up because of a front,” Champagne said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily not good before a front — it’s just that canal doesn’t get affected (by fronts.)”
He said the nastier the day, the better the fishing when it comes to catching redfish.
“If it’s just a brutal front — one of those days where you never take your beanie or your gloves off — you can forget the speckled trout,” Champagne said. “When that’s the case, you want the lowest water you can possibly get.”
His reasoning is sound.
“It consolidates everything into one area,” he said. “If you have high water, you’ll have 10 reds in this pond, eight redfish in that pond, two redfish in this cut and so on.”
Because the fish get so piled up in one specific spot, you shouldn’t fish in the winter if you get your feelings hurt when your buddy throws in “your hole.”
“If you catch one, get everybody in the boat to throw right where you caught the fish, and you’ll catch 20 in a row,” Champagne said.
But if you’re an angler who chucks out the anchor before even making a cast, you’d better hope you threw it in the correct spot where the fish are stacked. Otherwise, you’ll have no problem lifting the ice chest out the boat at the end of the day.
“With the reds, I just put the trolling motor on (high) and cover a lot of ground, casting toward the bank,” Champagne said. “Once you find the redfish, they’ll be there for three or four days.
“They don’t move much at all.”
If you are fortunate enough to fish on a nice, warm, Indian summer day, the Bypass Canal can provide a mess of speckled trout, according to Champagne.
“The warmer it is, the more chance you have at catching 20, 30, 40 trout,” he said. “I’ve caught 75 there many times, but it’s typically a 30-trout place.”
A good pair of polarized sunglasses might not seem too important for fishing in the wintertime, but they’ll certainly help you not come back with a jighead full of salad, according to Champagne.
“For the last three or four years, the Bypass Canal has had a really heavy grass line on both banks,” he said. “You want to find the edge of that and throw to it.”
The majority of the time, whether he’s targeting trout or redfish, the angler throws close to the bank.
“I’ll sneak a cast down the middle sometimes to see if the trout are over there, but typically if it’s not ridiculously cold, the trout will be close to the bank, too,” Champagne said.