Capt. Andy Jones loves to chase trout and redfish like the rest of us, but in the heat of the summer he targets bigger, toothier critters that swim in Lake Pontchartrain.
“When it gets hot, the trout bite is scarce in Lake Pontchartrain, but you can catch redfish,” Jones said. “And you can also catch bull sharks and alligator gar, and that's what I specifically target until the real fall weather arrives.”
I've personally made a couple trips with Capt. Andy, and we've caught both sharks and some garfish up to 5 feet long.
But this week, Jones got a hit from a fish worthy of "River Monsters."
“I just installed a new Power-Pole on my boat and was backing it down the boat ramp for a test drive. I saw an old buddy of mine, Brian Keating, and invited him along. We tried fishing a while for reds but the winds were terrible, so I suggested we go fish for gar,” he said. “The gar have been thick in the lake all summer long, and my last trip out I saw some 5- and 6-footers, so I went back to where I spotted those and we tossed out a few lines.”
For both garfish and sharks, Jones uses live mullet caught with a cast net threaded on a Mustad circle hook at the end of a 4-foot-long wire leader, and fishes it on the bottom with a heavy sliding sinker.
Jones was fishing in the lake midday Friday in the Lacombe area when the big fish hit.
“Then we got hit by this monster garfish, and fought it about a half-hour just to get it alongside the boat. It was too heavy even for the two of us to lift over the gunnel, so I jumped in the water to get some pictures with it,” Jones said. “I measured it at 6 feet, 9 inches long, and estimate its weight between 160 and 180 pounds.
“This was a big one.”
Jones, who released the fish to fight again another day, said he's seen gar in Lake Pontchartrain up to 8 feet long, so there are even bigger ones out there.
“I have so much fun catching these big fish, most people don't even know they're out here. I'll keep fishing for them as long as it stays warm,” he said. “Once the weather chills, the trout bite turns on and I'll target them along the Causeway.”
Capt. Andy Jones can be reached at 985-750-0670.