Insight on Cocodrie’s Inside

Many anglers launching at Cocodrie make long hauls to put fish on their tables, but this guide says they can have better success without losing sight of the small coastal town.


April 24, 2005 at 3:37 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Insight on Cocodrie’s Inside
It was a typical Louisiana spring day — the wind was howling to beat the band, and the water was, well, less than clear.

But Pointe Cocodrie Inn’s Joey Seeber wasn’t worried.

“We’ll catch a few fish,” he said.

The statement seemed a little more than bravado, given the conditions, but you come to expect that from guides.

I mulled over the situation as Seeber’s Blazer Bay cut through the silty water west of the launch. It just didn’t seem possible that we would put a fish in the boat.

Only minutes later, however, Seeber brought the boat off plane in Bay Cocodrie, and idled it up near a point on the western shoreline.

The wind whipped at the marsh grass and tugged at our clothing. It had to be blowing at least 15 m.p.h.

“The water isn’t as bad here,” Seeber said.

Ummm hmmm. There was probably 3 or 4 inches of visibility. Whoopie.

Clueless of my negative thoughts, the young guide trotted to the front deck, pulled out the anchor and eased it overboard.

“When the wind blows like this, I like to just anchor up and work an area thoroughly before moving on,” he explained.

The boat quickly spun around, transom pointing out into open water.

“That point used to extend way out,” Seeber explained as he snatched up a spinning reel. “Now there’s just a reef that goes way out into the bay.”

A glow shrimp was threaded onto a jig, and the rig was tossed as far behind the boat as possible.

The Cajun Thunder cork plopped down in the water, and began dancing among the small, wind-driven waves.

“We ought to be able to pick up a couple of trout here,” Seeber said.

I shrugged my shoulders, snipped off a topwater lure left on my braided line from a previous trip and grubbed around in my bag looking for a jighead. I wasn’t in much of a hurry — popping corks aren’t my bag, and I was absolutely certain any effort would be fruitless, in any case.

The knot wasn’t pulled tightly, however, when I saw Seeber snatch his rod tip up.

“There’s one,” he crowed.

The fish wasn’t much to speak of, and it wouldn’t make the ice chest. But it was a fish.

I quickly sent my jig streaking out, sans a cork.

“I’ll work the bottom and see what happens,” was my excuse.

The bottom was littered with shells, which grabbed my lure and tried to keep it from getting back to the boat.

“There are a lot of shell reefs out here,” Seeber said. “You can see one over there, marked with those poles.”

My casts weren’t having much effect, but Seeber soon was setting the hook on another schoolie.

Several bites later, with no more landings to show, we made a move farther back into the lee corner of the bay in search of cleaner water.

The key this day would be finding the cleanest water possible, Seeber said.

“It doesn’t have to be clear water,” he explained, recognizing that such clarity probably would be non-existent. “But if it’s just a little bit cleaner, you should be able to find fish.”

Throughout the day, we stopped at at least half a dozen spots that were miles apart.

But what never changed was that Cocodrie’s skyline, dominated by the LUMCON tower, was always visible.

That’s just Seeber’s modus operandi.

“These bays really don’t get that much pressure at all,” he said. “I think that’s a mistake a lot of people make.

“Sometimes they go to all these spots they hear about, and they pass right by the fish.”

None of Seeber's regular marsh haunts are farther from the dock than about 15 minutes because the waters within sight of LUMCON are thick with redfish.

And there usually are still some trout prowling around.

“That’s going to depend on how fast it warms up and how salty the water is,” he said. “If they’re ready to spawn, they have to get out to some saltier water.”

And as the marsh disappears, even early spawners are finding suitable conditions farther and farther north.

“With erosion and saltwater intrusion, some fish will find some water that’s salty enough without going all the way to the coast,” Seeber said. “We’re seeing the water getting saltier and saltier.”

So barring an early spawn and extremely fresh conditions, Seeber knows he can pick up some trout to pad the ice chest without spending a lot of money on fuel.

Bay Cocodrie generally is one of his first stops, but one of his favorite locations is just southwest of Pointe Cocodrie — Moss Bay.

“There are a lot of oyster reefs in Moss Bay,” Seeber said. “It probably has more oyster reefs than any other bay in the area.”

In fact, the bay just off of Bayou Petit is so full of oyster shells that many anglers don’t even run through it.

“A lot of people are scared of it because it’s so hazardous,” Seeber said. “You’ve got to know where you can run.”

But those very shallow mounds of shells make the bay extremely productive.

Just on the other side of Bayou Petit is a smaller bay, a lake really, that also has produced a lot of trout for Seeber’s clients.

Bay Pumpkin is tucked neatly between Bayou Petit and Bay Couteau, and Seeber said he watches anglers whiz by every time he’s fishing it.

“I’ve rarely seen anyone in it,” he said.

Bay Sale, Deep Saline, Deer Bay and Mangrove Bay often offer plenty of hard bottom to attract feeding trout.

Mangrove Bay probably harbors as many reefs as Moss Bay, but it’s not as treacherous.

“A lot of those reefs are marked real well with poles,” Seeber said.

Several unnamed bays surrounding Rabbit Bayou north of Cocodrie round out his favorite waters.

“A lot of those bays can be real productive for trout and reds,” Seeber said.

The key to successfully fishing any of these bays is to go easy until you figure out the lay of the bottom.

“You’ve got to learn these waters,” he said. “Put your time in and learn where the reefs are, and you’ll find fish.”

Bay Antoine also can hold some fish, but Seeber said the popular area is his last resort.

“You go in there on the weekend, and you’ll see several, several boats,” he said.

This illustrates one of the weaknesses of many anglers — their tendency to equate the number of fishermen in an area with productivity.

“Don’t automatically think just because there are boats there that they’re catching fish,” Seeber said. “They’re in there making all that noise, and the fish respond to that.

“Run just a couple of miles down to somewhere like Deer Bay, and you’ll have the whole bay to yourself.”

Regardless of which bay he chooses, Seeber uses the same tactics.

He generally fishes the main bays when he’s taking clients.

“When you have four or five clients and all the gear, you can’t get back into those little ponds,” he explained.

So he depends on the main bodies of water to produce.

“We often drift the bays,” he said.

He likes to set up so that anglers can work on either side of the boat and catch redfish and trout.

“Some can work the banks, and others can work the deeper water,” Seeber said. “The redfish orient more to the bank, and the trout are generally farther out.”

Wind has a lot of impact on Seeber’s approach.

“I take into consideration the wind direction,” he said. “If it’s really windy, try to think of some areas that will have some cleaner water.”

That often will mean fishing the upwind side of a bay when the winds are howling.

But when there is a light to moderate breeze, Seeber follows a different plan.

“On average days, you might want to fish the windy side because the wind blows the bait into the bank,” he explained.

That means he has to rely more on his trolling motor to maintain his boat’s position, but it really pays dividends.

However, he’s always ready to drop the anchor.

“I’ll have my anchor right at my feet, and once someone gets a bite, I very easily let the anchor down,” Seeber said.

Seeber said it’s vitally important that anchoring be done with as little noise as possible.

“I’ve seen people just throw the anchor out, and then they wonder where the fish went,” he said. “If you’re not quiet, you’re going to spook those fish.”

Once the boat is secure, anglers work the area thoroughly.

“We’ll fish that spot out, and then move on,” Seeber said.

At times, he lifts the anchor after a few minutes without another bite.

Often, however, the fish will be stacked up, and his clients will load the boat.

That’s particularly true with redfish on a falling tide.

“We’ll set up on the cuts coming out of the marshes,” Seeber explained.

Once the water gets low enough that the reds can’t stay in the shallow ponds, he’s waiting to ambush them.

But runouts aren’t the only options.

“You can fish points and cuts and runouts — anything that looks like it has some moving water,” he said.

For this business, Seeber uses four main lures — plain plastic touts, Beetle Spins, gold spoons, and a bait under a cork.

The spoons and Beetle Spins are a bit limiting, however.

“When you’re fishing with those, you’re going to be targeting mostly reds,” Seeber said.

So his preference usually is a soft-plastic lure, he said.

“You’ve got a better chance of catching trout and reds,” Seeber explained.

But when push comes to shove, he’ll throw out a cork.

“I like the Cajun Thunder, but there are a lot of noise-making corks out there now that I’m sure work just as well,” Seeber said.

He prefers to work plastic lures, but always makes sure he has live bait on the boat.

“A lot of my clients don’t have a lot of experience, and that live bait works well for them,” Seeber said.

But when he’s fishing alone, Seeber often will put up the live bait, pull out his small john boat and head for the ponds.

“The smaller reds will be in those ponds in April,” he said. “You just look for cleaner water and bait.

“That’s a lot of fun.”

Tight-lined plastics and Beetle Spins are the main tools here.

However, when he’s focused on trout, there will always be live bait on the boat.

April is a little early for shrimp, but he said cocaho minnows are readily available at any of the bait stores along Highway 56.

There are times, however, when live bait isn’t necessary.

“I like the Norton Sand Eels and the Saltwater Assassins,” he said.

Glow works well in muddy conditions, but outside of that there are really only two colors that each angler should have.

“Purple/chartreuse and avocado/red flake seem to be the most productive down here,” Seeber said. “If you’ve got those two (colors) with you, try them both, and usually one of them will work.”

During the winter, it’s important to slow the retrieve down, but that’s not the case come April.

“In April, most of the fish are very active. I find them a little more aggressive,” Seeber said. “So you can vary the retrieve, but a lot of times, you can just cast it out and reel it in.”

When he’s focusing solely on trout, Seeber often will be found drifting across the main body of the bays, working his baits across the numerous reefs.

But he still keeps his anchor at ready and drops it (carefully) whenever a fish bites.

He said he prefers to set up upcurrent of the reef once he gets a bite or two.

“Ideally, you’d like to set up where you can cast with the tide,” Seeber said. “Then you work the bait back over the reef.”

Of course, if the wind is opposing the tide, that might be more difficult.

Although he really doesn’t care which way the tide is moving, Seeber said an incoming tide generally improves the trout fishing.

“That incoming tide pushes in cleaner water,” he explained. “If you can find the mullet and clean water, you’ll have a better chance.”

But Seeber’s most-important rule is to be flexible.

“I think a lot of people decide before they get down here where they are going to go and how they’re going to fish,” he said. “Wait until you get to the area you’re going to fish before you make those decisions.

“Each day you’re going to have to change your tactics depending upon the conditions.” n

Capt. Joey Seeber can be contacted by calling Pointe Cocodrie Inn at (985) 594-4568.






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