When it comes to easy access, protected water and a smorgasbord of fish, kayak anglers need look no further than Delacroix Island. Known locally as “The Island,” this historic St. Bernard Parish commercial fishing village is a kayak angler’s dream. The fishing area is unlimited, diverse and kayak friendly.
What do you want to catch? Bass? Delacroix’s got that. Specks and reds? Got that too. Due to the influences of the nearby Caernarvon river siphon, Delacroix offers a mixed bag of fresh and saltwater species all of which are caught in the same locations, using the same bait or lures.
Many anglers may be intimidated by the vast amounts of grass that fill all but the deepest areas in the Delacroix marsh. Some of the best areas will, at first glance, seem impenetrable. Paddling throughout these areas is not a problem, but those with pedal ‘yaks may have to raise their drives and take up a paddle.
The grass presents a problem for some fishing techniques, but with a little adaptation you quickly realize that the grass holds fish and there are easy ways to get to them.
Throwing any lure with a treble hook is sure to bring frustration. However, switch to lures with a weedless presentation and you can slice and dice the grass with precision. Weedless spoons, inline spinner baits and soft plastic fluke baits with hook-hiding slots all get your lure to where the fish are hiding. If the grass is a little thinner, safety pin type spinners work well also.
Position your kayak to work the edges of the grass beds. Oftentimes the fish are holding along these areas waiting to ambush anything that happens by. Keep a constant eye on the grass patches for signs of fish activity. It may be as obvious as a strike or shrimp fleeing for its life. However, subtle signs like one section of grass moving while others are not, may signal the presence of fish below.
For explosive topwater action, weedless frogs will find their way attached to the lips of both bass and reds alike. More so than any other bait, a frog can be worked over the thickest of the grass mats and bring heart-stopping blow ups. The thick grass hinders hook sets so (try to) wait until you actually feel the fish before imparting a heavy set. You will miss some fish, but that’s really part of the fun. Keep the lure in the area and you may get another chance.
Work the frog 360 degrees around your spot. In areas of thick grass interspersed with open pockets, allow the frog to sit (if floating) or sink when you come to a clear spot. Be prepared for a strike. If none comes, hop the lure back onto the grass and continue working it.
The fish won’t always be in the thickest grass areas. The usual points and cuts near open water generally have less grass and you can get away with fishing lures that are not weedless. One of the exciting aspects of fishing Delacroix is that on any cast, you can reel in a surprise. Bass, reds and flounder are available all year. As fall approaches and the transition begins, specks will also become more prevalent.
Bayou Gentilly in Delacroix is a main bayou and sees a lot of power boat traffic. Though fish can be caught there, it’s much safer and more peaceful to paddle off into the surrounding marsh and ponds. The area directly across the bayou and to the left of Sweetwater Marina is called the “Graveyard.” It’s off the power boat path and provides great fishing within sight of the highway.
To get further into the marsh, head back up Terre aux Boeufs and point the kayak towards Lake Leary or Lost Lake. You can fish these areas for days and constantly find new water.
Delacroix is also a popular duck hunting spot. As fall seasons approach, kayak anglers can help avoid any conflicts with duck hunters by employing a few safety and courtesy measures. Many duck hunters are using surface drive boats that can run in water as shallow as ‘yaks can. Staying close to the bank is not a guarantee of safety.
The easiest measure to coexist is for kayakers to launch a little later than usual. Lower fall temperatures mean you don’t have to launch in the dark to take advantage of productive fishing times. Most duck hunters leave early to allow enough time to be set up at their spot before the sun peaks over the horizon. Besides the safety advantage for kayakers to launch later, having the sun up also allows you to see where the hunters have set up. Most duck hunts only last a few hours so give the hunters a wide berth so you don’t mess up any shot opportunities.
Study a good aerial map or look up the area on Google Earth. Plan where you’d like to fish and where the closest launch site is located. Bayou Terre aux Boeufs follows LA 300 (Delacroix Hwy) from Reggio to Delacroix and offers many roadside launch points along the way. Long stretches are confined to the bayou itself, but there are a few areas where you can access the surrounding marsh. The highway is narrow and busy, so be sure to pick an area with sufficient shoulders for safe parking and launching.
Better yet, the boat launch in Reggio and Sweetwater and Serigne’s launches in Delacroix are kayak-friendly and offer safe launch and parking areas. It’s well worth the launch fee for the safety and peace of mind it provides.
If you’re looking for an area that offers short paddles, protected waters and an abundance and variety of fish, island hopping around at Delacroix can’t be beat.