In this day and age, you’d really be off to a rocky start if you went fishing and didn’t have an outboard motor on your boat. Most of the time, your ice chest would be empty, you boat would be sparkling and the fillet knife would be just as shiny as when you threw it in the shopping cart at Target.
However, if you launch out of Rigolets Marina — located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain — this time of year, you won’t be at any disadvantage with only a trolling motor.
That’s because Geohegan Canal stacks up with fish, according to avid angler Jamie Mumphrey.
“It’s so easy to idle a couple hundred yards and just start fishing,” Mumphrey said.
February can be brutal, with hard cold fronts jetting into South Louisiana, which is actually good news for anglers who want to catch fish while keeping their gas bill low.
“I don’t think there’s anything that could shut it off besides being too warm,” Mumphrey said. “In February, it’s almost like the colder the better for redfish. They’ll bite no matter how cold it gets.”
But warm-ups are far from busts.
“Those milder days are better for trout,” Mumphrey said. “I’ve caught trout there when it’s 47 degrees, but usually after it gets under 50, the trout bite shuts off.”
One of the major keys to having success in Geohegan is to locate the drop-off, according to Mumphrey.
“You want to set up your boat right in the opening where the Geohegan lagoon is on that ledge in about 25 to 30 feet of water, and then you throw toward that 15 feet of water and work your bait down the ledge,” he said.
His go-to bait is a lemonhead-colored Matrix Shad on a 3/8-ounce GoldenEye jighead.
“Sometimes when I fish the cuts in the back, I’ll switch to a ¼-ounce, but it’s got enough depth in there I stick with the 3/8-ounce,” Mumphrey said.
When you’re jigging deep water, bottom contact is essential, and that’s the case the majority of the time when fishing Geohegen — unless the fish tell you otherwise.
“The last time I went there, I found them on the depth finder, and they didn’t want to bite anything,” Mumphrey said. “Then, when I reeled my bait up, one smoked it.
“I started catching them suspended.”
Geohegan Canal is known for its population of speckled trout, but when they don’t cooperate, anglers shouldn’t abandon the area, according to Mumphrey.
“If the trout don’t work out, there are always bass and reds there,” he said.
Mumphrey fishes the cuts in the back of Geohegan for bass and reds, as well as the main canal itself.
“You want to focus on grassy drop-offs and sunken brush piles,” he said. “If you find (a brush pile), you can catch 10 bass off it.”