The Atchafalaya Basin is like Venice: When conditions are right and the fishing is on fire, no other place can match it.

Things happen in both those places that occur nowhere else in the state.

Avid angler Chris Macaluso, who fishes both fresh and saltwater, frequents the Atchafalaya Basin this time of year, and he finds the sac-a-lait fishing to be great in certain areas.

“I like the Bayou Sorrel, Little Pigeon and Big Pigeon areas,” Macaluso said. “I like the northern part of the Basin more than the southern when the water is high, and in the Pigeon area, you’re able to find cleaner water and more (exposed) bank.”

One of the big keys, Macaluso said, is finding the cleanest water you can when targeting sac-a-lait this time of year.

“Because the water is generally a little bit dirtier in the spring in the Basin from the Atchafalaya River water and Mississippi water flowing through, you want to find a little bit cleaner water — stained water instead of muddy,” he said.

He targets grassbeds, laydowns and drains.

“They’re not going to get way back in the woods like the bass,” Macaluso said. “They’re going to seek out cover higher up on the bank.”

If you’re wanting to catch a load of the tastiest fish that swims, Macaluso said to look no farther than the nation’s last great overflow swamp.

“Generally, Basin sac-a-lait are a little smaller than you will find in, say, Old River,” he said. “They’re not the big sac-a-lait you find in oxbows, but there’s a lot of them.”

The main forage for the sac-a-lait, Macaluso said, is red bugs.

“There’s a lot of small crawfish that come out of the drains, and the fish will gorge themselves on them,” he said.

To mimic those crawfish, he throws brown/orange-colored tube jigs attached to 1/32- and 1/48-ounce jigheads.

“In general, if you’re fishing something under a popping cork, the slower the bait falls, the more strikes you’re going to get,” Macaluso said. “When I’m fishing under a popping cork for speckled trout, I’ll throw an 1/8- or 1/16-ounce jighead.”