Lake Henderson really isn’t a lake at all in the classical sense, but more of a backwater area formed in the 1930s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

During low Atchafalaya River stages, the lake is only about 5,000 acres in size, and is really more of a series of shallow pools and interconnected channels than a lake proper.

But in the late winter and spring, when the Atchafalaya River goes into flood stage, the lake’s surface area can soar to 37,000 acres.

Murphy Royer identified three sac-a-lait fishing habitats in the lake: the concrete pilings of the interstate bridge, the flats and the tree lines.

The pilings are easy enough to find and fish. Catches around these concrete columns can be good, said Royer, but they are unpredictable.

The flats are the wide-open areas that look like vast stump fields mixed with a scattering of living cypress trees. During the spawn (late winter to early spring) when you have 10 feet of water on the flats, Royer said you can start fishing sac-a-lait in January and catch well at least to April. Some years good catches can be made later if water levels hold up and vegetation doesn’t become too dense.

On the flats, fishing is better near living cypress trees than near stumps. Submerged vegetation also tends to be a problem on the flats, so naturally, fishing effort has to be focused on open areas.

When water levels drop to about 6 feet on the flats, sac-a-lait move toward tree lines. The willow trees are in lines because they are growing on top of straight canal banks that stick out of water during low-water periods.

“Grass,” as Royer calls hydrilla, “is now a big limiting factor. It limits access. You have to look for openings to fish. Before the current grass problems, Lake Henderson was good year round.”

Royer had started the morning off early by fishing deeper water near tree lines. Later, he shifted to fishing the flats, probing openings in the vegetation, most of which were just off the deeper channels. He especially worked over any green cypress trees with open water near them.