At a time when the lower Spillway gets crowded as it settles to a highly fishable level in late August and September, a Morgan City bass outdoorsman gets away from the maddening crowd to a few hotspots that attract bass and other gamefish.
On many September days, Bill McCarty enjoys drain hopping and catching bass, plus other gamefish that gang up around drains like goggle-eye, sac-a-lait and bream. The action can be nonstop much of the time.
“I’ve been fishing drains since right out of college. That’s been a while, 20 years or so,” he said the first week of August, looking ahead to the late summer period when drains are moving on a falling tide along the coast in south central Louisiana.
McCarty, a St. Mary Parish School Board member who owns WHM Services LLC, said the tide chart printed regularly in Louisiana Sportsman is accurate for the Morgan City area. Get the times for Shell Island, he said.
“Try to fish midway through high tide when it’s falling. The higher the tide, the better it usually is,” he said. “You want to catch it halfway. Typically, the last two, three hours of a falling tide are the best.”
Also, he said, fishing success “is always better when the water’s coming out clear into muddy water. That’s always the best-case scenario. Any duck ponds running out, any drains coming from the marsh.”
While bass are prevalent, other gamefish are attracted to a drain.
“A lot of times it’s a smorgasbord of fish — goggle-eye, sac-a-lait and bream. They’re feeding on the bait that comes through,” he said.
In the Morgan City area, some of the top producing drains are at The Wax, Bateman Island and Quintana Field, McCarty said. At the Wax, drains along Bayou Haydel and anything off the Big Wax are prime places to fish, he said.
His favorite area for targeting drains is Bateman Island, he confided, specifically drains off the Sam Smith Canal on the south side and on the north end along the Bass Canal.
“I really like the ones in Bateman. They’re easy to get to and they don’t get a ton of pressure on them. When the tide’s falling in the evening, it’s a nice, quick trip... leave in the afternoon and you’re back,” he said.
Bateman Island is south of Morgan City along the lower Atchafalaya River.
Often, he said, one drain might give up six, eight or 10 bass before it plays out. If it does go from hot to cold, pull up the trolling motor, crank up and go to the next one.
For bass, McCarty said he ties on a shad-colored ⅜- or ¼-ounce Rat-L-Trap, or a dark-colored plastic worm or soft plastic creature bait, such as a Speed Craw, or a chrome/blue or chrome/black topwater, like a Yellow Magic.
If an angler wants to concentrate on panfish, use your favorite tube jig, he said.