Where: Toledo Bend
What: Bass, sac-a-lait
How: Of course, Toledo Bend is a large lake and it’s difficult to pinpoint any one area. However, the diversity of terrain and varying depths allow for finding fish no matter what the conditions are. In Louisiana, December can mean heavy coats or short pants. If fishing a sustained warm stretch, the fish move shallower and the bite is a bit more determined. Fish the back of protected coves where the bass tend to move on warmer days. Slow roll spinnerbaits, Rat-L-Traps and other baits that can be worked slowly while maintaining sufficient depth. On colder days, search for submerged grass beds and drag spinnerbaits slowly along the tips of the grass. Jigging spoons are effective if the fish are sluggish and sitting deep. A depth finder is key to finding where the concentrations of fish are holding. Smaller baits and slower presentations are generally the key to fishing winter bass. Crappie (white perch or sac-a-lait) will be off of the brush piles and holding along the deeper edges of creeks and channels. Again, a depth finder is invaluable. The fish will be deep, lethargic and huddled together, so accuracy in getting the baits right in front of them is key. Small tube jigs, curly tails and live minnows all do the trick. Just remember to fish slowly and watch your line for the slightest twitch.
Launch: There are numerous launches and facilities all along the Louisiana side of Toledo Bend. From dirt roads to full-service marinas, launch options are nearly endless. Several locations offer cabins and camping areas. Louisiana has north and south state parks on Toledo Bend that offer cabins, camping and boat launches.
Insider tip: If not familiar with Toledo Bend, start your trip at one of the full service marinas like Jolly Rodger, where you can get local knowledge and information in order to cut down on wasted time and energy.
Jolly Rodger Marina- Facebook
What: Speckled trout, redfish, bass
How: The thick grass of summer has subsided a bit and the trout have moved into the marsh for their winter patterns. The area offers a blend of shallow marsh for fast action on warmer days, and some deeper bayous and pipelines where the fish seek refuge if it gets really cold. During warm stretches, topwater baits are easier to work with the thinner grass and will be productive. Live bait may be available at the local marinas, but usually isn’t necessary. Plastics tightlined or popped under a cork generally do the trick. Don’t overlook the topwater baits that many mistakenly store away after summer. If it’s cold, look for deep canals and deadend pipelines not far from the launches. Slowly work jigheads/plastics on the ledges. Position your kayak where you can work the bait down off, or up onto the ledge depending on where they are holding. Any cast is likely to yield a trout, red or bass all in the same spot, with the same lure.
Launch: Two commercial launches offer concrete ramps and secure parking. Both have small stores and sell live and dead bait when available. Good fishing can be found within sight of the launches, so fish your way out and you may not have to paddle very far.
Serigne’s Marina: Now the oldest launch in Delacroix, it was opened in 1967. Owner Lionel Serigne has a lifetime of knowledge of fishing in Delacroix, and will steer you right. 5933 Delacroix Highway, St. Bernard, La. (504)265-0007 $5.00 launch fee. Serigne’s Marina, Delacroix, La/Facebook
Sweetwater Marina: Owner Captain Jack Payne is regularly on the water running guided trips. He always has up-to-date intel on patterns and locations. 6205 Delacroix Highway, St. Bernard, La. (504)342-2368 $10.00 launch fee per kayak.
Insider tip: Delacroix is a popular duck hunting area. Plan to leave after daylight and be on the lookout for area hunters. Camps, rooms and cabins are available throughout the area. Ask the marina owners for recommendations.