Murphy Royer was wearing short pants and a short-sleeved shirt last Wednesday when Greg Hackney and the Sportsman TV crew joined him in Henderson Lake to film an upcoming episode on springtime sac-a-alit fishing.
Less than 24 hours later, temperatures had plunged almost 50 degrees and winds were howling out of the north after a powerful cold front blew through the state Wednesday night.
He and Hackney had a solid day - 46 nice sac-a-alit and a handful of bass - but the frigid temperatures have since slowed the bite.
“They’re still in the spawn right now. They’re still hanging in there,” said Royer, a sac-a-lait expert from Duson. “I’m sure they’re going to stay because once they get into that stage they’re not coming out of it.
“But that cold spell just slows them down a little bit. Once it warms up, they’ll crank up again.”
In his experience, Royer believes the fish stay put in the same vicinity, but slow down during a hard cold snap like we experienced on Wednesday night.
When the water temperatures warm up, fish will continue spawning now into April, Royer said. He suggested targeting shallow water in Henderson Lake and fishing around structure with craw-colored jigs about 2 feet under a popping cork.
“I don’t think they leave from the area, I think they just don’t bite. That’s my speculation. I’ve been doing it for 45 years,” he said. “I’ve gone during cold spells - you don’t catch very many fish and there’s not a lot of movement.”
Ideally, water temps will quickly return to the upper-50s or low-60s for peak action.
“They’ll probably wrap it up in April,” he said. “They might have some stragglers after that. They spawn in stages. They don’t all spawn at the same time.
“I’ve been catching spawn fish for about a month.”
One thing anglers will have to deal with on Henderson Lake later this week is rising water: the north locks are open, and Royer said the Atchafalaya River also is rising.
“So that’s going to swell Henderson Lake up,” he said. “It’s going to change things. The shallowest water eventually might be 6 feet.”
That’s when Royer will turn in his cork and tightline those same homemade jigs, in either 1/48- or 1/32-of-an-ounce.
The Sportsman TV episode featuring Royer on Henderson Lake is scheduled to air on CST later this month.