Jahncke’s Ditch and Reef

Captain Paul Titus

August 06, 2012 at 10:00 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Jahncke’s Ditch and Reef were favorite fishing areas back in the 1950s, but there were some danger zones.
Jahncke’s Ditch and Reef were favorite fishing areas back in the 1950s, but there were some danger zones.
Dear Capt. Paul:

What are the coordinates for Jenke’s Reef on the south end of Lake Borgne?

H-11

Capt. Paul’s response:

have the north end of the shell reef just north of Jahncke’s Ditch at or about 29°52.804’ N ~ 89° 35.853’ W. The reef runs from that point toward the shoreline just east of where Jahncke’s Ditch enters Lake Borgne, which is at or about 29°52.7313’ N ~ 89° 35.842’ W.

Most of the time the reef is under water, but at low tide it can clearly be seen. It is about 940 yards at a heading of 221 degrees from the mouth of Bayou St. Malo at Lake Borgne.

Be careful when in the area, as most of the time it is just below the surface of the water.

The shoreline site immediately west of the Ditch was a staging area for the Jahncke Company, which was a big entity from 1910 to the 1960s. For additional information on the Jahncke endeavor, see the WYES TV Web site at http://www.wyes.org/local/german-new-orleans/.

It is alleged that the Jahncke company paved most of the city streets and provided material for major endeavors such as the Tulane Stadium, the Robert E. Lee circle monument, and many other building projects in and around the City of New Orleans.

There are remnants of clam shells throughout that area. That is one of the reasons that the area was called Shell Beach.

The actual Jahncke site was in the tree-lined area just off of the shoreline, and was mounted on concrete footings with heavy joists linking them together. There were several sheds there that housed their office and operating equipment.

After the Jahncke moved its operations, the site was used by boaters as a protective cove if adverse weather caught them in the open lake. It was an ideal site for such use by small boats. I used it several times to escape bad weather.

Back then we rented skiffs from Campo’s at Shell Beach and put our 10 horsepower motors on them and ventured into Lake Borgne.

The MRGO was just being cut at that time, so the Jahncke Ditch and the Priest Camp farther to the west by Doullutte’s canal were the only way to get out of bad weather, other than Bayous St. Malo and Yscloskey. Several times we were grateful for the protective waters of the Ditch and the small "Y" bayou just inside the mouth of the Ditch.

Other times we would wade-fish the reef while actually anchored in the Ditch. We would pull the big ones up to the skiff.

That whole area is a very productive location. The southern part of Lake Borgne from the old Fort Beauregard ruins, the pilings around the mouth of Bayou Yscloskey, the mouth of the Doulluts Canal and the canal itself, the Jahncke Ditch and Reef, and the mouth of the Bayou St. Malo area have always been a prime fishing area.

It is unique in that it can be fished with a south, east and west wind. The only time I would avoid it would be in a sustained or heavy northern blow.

There was the remnants of the old road that was on the high ground just in from the shoreline. It was an old asphalt road that linked the buildings with Shell Beach, and even had a bridge over Doulluts Canal. It joined Louisinaa Highway 46 at Bayou Yscloskey near an area that was called "The Naval Attachment."

This area was composed of a few substantial building and a few naval launches. Sometimes there were personnel stationed at the site who supervised the dumping of unused naval ammunition in the area. Modern charts such as NOAA charts 11363~ Mississippi River Venice to New Orleans and 11364 Lake Borgne and Approaches still indicate a warning for the area shown as "CONTAMINATED AMMUNITION."

The trapezoid-shaped area started near the shore at or about 29° 52.043’ N ~ 89° 40.224’ W by the Naval Attachment area, and extended into the lake about 1 1/4 miles to the north-northeast to a position of about 29° 53.037’ N ~ 89° 40.005’ W, then eastward for about a mile to a position at or about 29° 53.028’N ~ 89° 39.039’ W, then south to a position at or about 29° 52.038’ N~ 89°39.014’ W.

I was told that the area was "cleaned" in the late 1960’s. We usually did not fish in that area, as there were plenty of other areas to wet our lines. At the time, we did not have GPS or even modern marine charts; we just stayed away from the area in the lake that was northeast of the Naval Attachment buildings.

I remember that big reds would run hundred of mullet up on the shore line and even onto the roadway. We had several wade-fishing spots along that stretch of the shoreline that were very productive. Be careful wading the area now, however, as I don’t know if the entire shoreline is safe to wade-fish with the several major storms that have visited the area since our trips there in the ’50s; there may be debris in the area.

Most anglers speed by these locations to what they think is better fishing areas: Oh, if they only knew about these locations.

You are on to a very good fishing area that doesn’t require 100 gallons of fuel to reach. It can be reached, of course, from the Shell Beach area and from the Hopedale launches by using Bayous La Loutre and St. Malo. The area is a very worthwhile stop.

Thanks for your question about "The Ditch." You brought back many, many fine memories of fishing the location.

Unless otherwise specified, all positions are stated as H,DDD,MM.mmm, and were determined using WGS 84 DATUM. All headings/bearings/courses are stated in magnetic degrees.

Keep Safe,

Capt. Paul

Jahncke’s Ditch and Reef offers some first-class fishing - for those who know how to find it.
       



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