The last time Robbie Freeling visited the lagoons in New Orleans City Park — on March 15, 2015 — he caught a nice 8.3-pound bass that’s now hanging on his wall in Baton Rouge.
Last Sunday, he returned to the park for his very first trip since landing that lunker and nearly duplicated the feat, with a 23 ¼-inch long, 8.1-pound fish that he caught at about 4 p.m. in the ponds by the soccer fields behind Harrison Avenue.
“The ponds were clear enough to see about 6 feet off the bank,” said Freeling, 31, who works as a construction site inspector for Terracon. “I caught a glimpse of her, and she stayed there with two other fish that were about 3 pounds apiece, and they were running off bream.
“But they weren’t staying in the open area where the bed was. She’d come in and out.”
Freeling was using the same lure he caught last year’s 8-pounder with — a Texas-rigged 8-inch watermelon Yum lizard. It took a while, but the big fish — which was holding in about 2 ½ feet of water — finally had enough.
“I’d get it just about to her nose and flare it up and she swam off probably 40 straight times,” Freeling said. “That last time, I saw the wake first. It looked like a redfish in Delacroix. I was blind casting to where she was, and I just prayed it was her and not one of the 3-pounders she was with.”
Freeling landed the hawg, and said he caught six other fish on a day he described as sporadic.
“I saw lots of fish moving, but only a handful of them actually stayed on the beds,” he said. “The guys I talked to hadn’t been catching a lot. One guy caught about a 4-pounder. But for the most part, there was a couple guys who sounded like they knew what they were talking about and all kind of agreed with me — they’re about a week away, but they’re getting really close.”
If you plan on fishing at City Park, Freeling definitely recommends using polarized sunglasses so you can see the fish. Depending on how much rain falls in the next few days, he said the height of the spawn could happen soon.
“I think they’re right there,” he said. “By this weekend, it should be really, really good.”
Tim Zissis holds the current City Park bass record with a 9.05-pounder caught on Aug. 14, 2013.
The park’s annual Big Bass Rodeo & Fishtival, including Boats on the Bayou, is slated for Saturday, April 2 from 6 am. to noon. For more information and to register for the event, click here.