Where: Northshore Lake Pontchartrain
What: Bass, bream, sac-a-lait
How: The freshwater rivers and bayous that abound in St. Tammany Parish are great areas for springtime freshwater ‘yakin’. Bayous Bonfouca, Cane and Lacombe, along with the Tchefuncte and Pearl rivers, all provide great freshwater action. Bugs and buds are starting to hatch, and the fish are transitioning to shallower areas as the water and weather warms up. For bass and bream, topwater is the name of the game. Bass will hit any manner of topwater plugs, with the more natural colors being local favorites. For bream, you can’t beat the action of using a light flyrod with a tiny popping bug. Spider and frog imitations with multiple rubber-band legs get devoured almost on impact. The best part is that you don’t really have to know anything about fly fishing to have success. Plop the bug near some floating vegetation, near a stump along the bank or just under some overhanging branches and be prepared for it to quickly get sucked under. But don’t be surprised if a feisty bass inhales your bug. Look for sac-a-lait near brush piles ready to take live shiners, or tiny tube jigs in blue/white or black and chartreuse.
Launch: There are several public launches and endless kayak combat launch locations in the area. Check out www.louisiananorthshore.com for more launch information.
Where: Lake Ameda (Hopedale)
What: Redfish and Speckled Trout
How: March is known for being windy, but on calm days, a short paddle to this small lake and surrounding area can get your spring season kicked off right. From the launch, head up Bayou LaLoutre to Hopedale Bayou and turn right into Hopedale Lagoon which runs into Lake Ameda. Fish your way towards the lake and you may never even need to get there. Trout are still in the area and are moving to the shallower flats. The best way to catch them is by trolling or drifting. Set up a mental grid and cover the lake from one end to the other (select your direction by using the wind to your benefit). At the end of each run, move over half your casting range and repeat. Of course, if you have several hook ups in a particular area, fish it hard before moving on. Drag a plastic tail or Gulp on a 1/16- or 1/8-ounce jighead out the back as you slowly move along. Keep that rod in the holder and fan-cast another under a popping cork covering water on both sides of the yak to search for bites. Look for reds near, but not on, the bank. More often than not, they are holding 30 to 50 yards off the shoreline at this time of year. Spinnerbaits in white, black or yellow and weedless gold spoons can’t be beat.
Launch: Launch at the old Pip’s Place launch. No facilities, only a concrete boat launch with a $5 honor box. Ample parking across the highway. The launch is located on the right side of Hopedale Highway in St. Bernard Parish.