Capt. Bill Lake is smitten.
The veteran guide from Houma is well-known statewide for his success in catching thousands of speckled trout each year out of Dularge.
But truth be known, he really loves catching spawning sac-a-lait in the brackish marsh canals not far from his home each spring.
So for three days earlier this month, he and his son Chris were busy catching loads of crappie from the depths of Toledo Bend with Living the Dream Guide Service.
“I have never done this before,” Lake, 61, said. “The trip was much better than expected.
“Toledo Bend is a very strong fishery for sac-a-lait.”
On Thursday, May 11, Lake and clients with guide Bart Blakelock caught 99 crappie.
“I was just hoping to catch 30 to 40 a day,” Lake said. “On the second day out, we caught 111. When Jerry (JT) Thompson came out to guide us on the third day, I told him we needed to catch 112.”
And Thompson delivered. When the third day was over, their pontoon returned with 124 fish.
“It was just a great trip,” Lake said. “The sac-a-lait were clustered in deep brush piles, but they were suspended between 10- and 15-foot depths.”
On the first two days of the trip, Lake said they caught all the sac-a-lait and a few white bass on shiners.
“On the third day, we caught 50-percent on jigs and the rest on shiners,” he said.
Lake said most all the fish were keepers, with 15 of the 300 pushing 2 pounds and a couple going over 2.
During one of the days, a strong front pushed through.
“We had 15 to 18 mph winds from the north at one point,” Lake said. “The waves were crashing on our feet, but it didn’t matter.
“We would still catch 20 to 25 fish at a brush pile and then move on to the next for another group of fish.”
Thompson, the owner of Living the Dream Guide Service, always has six to eight boats fishing crappie or bass daily.
“So far this season, we have done extremely well with crappie numbers,” he said. “The brush pile bite started early in March probably due to the lower water levels we are experiencing this year. We found hardly any fish in the shallows during the spawn this spring, so we worked very hard on our brush piles because that’s where the fish were located.”
Regarding crappie size, Thompson has been somewhat impressed.
“I feel like the average size is better this year compared to 2016,” he said. “We’ve had two crappie taken at 2 ¾ pounds so far this season.”
Most of the crappie Thompson catches are taken on shiners and Bobby Garland baby shad jigs.
“The public artificial reefs under Pendleton Bridge have been producing well judging from the numbers of boats we see above those structures,” Thompson said. “That would be a great place for visiting anglers to fish unless they have set brush piles in the lake.”
There are three sections under the Pendleton Bridge. These include the following (from the Louisiana side):
Piling numbers 2-12: GPS Coordinates N 31.46850° W 93.71259°
Piling number 13: GPS Coordinates N 31.48557° W 93.71422°
Piling numbers 14-27: GPS Coordinates N. 31.48537° W 93.74157°
Visiting anglers are also reminded the daily creel limit for crappie on Toledo Bend is 25 crappie per angler – not 50 as found in most other Louisiana waters. On Toledo Bend Lake, the crappie possession limit is 100.
There is no length limit on crappie at Toledo Bend.