Modern bass boats are high-powered machines specifically designed to provide fishermen with all the advantages necessary to conquer the world of the largemouth bass. High-powered motors allow bass fishermen to quickly cover many miles in search of prime bass habitat. Rarely will you see a bass fisherman launch his boat and immediately begin fishing — unless that bass fisherman is in a kayak.
One thing is for certain, bass don’t know where the boat launch is. It may be a psychological thing, but most fishermen who spend tens of thousands of dollars on their fishing machine just can’t bring themselves to fish without running for miles and consuming many gallons of expensive gasoline. How many fish do they pass by on their journey?
Necessarily limited by their human-powered propulsion, kayak fishermen have learned that excellent fishing can often be found within sight of the launch. This is especially true for bass fishing. Without the ability to travel long distances, kayak fishermen concentrate on waters with easy access and, usually, little fishing pressure
Largemouth bass, or "green trout" as they are often referred to in Southeast Louisiana, are abundant in all areas of fresh and even brackish water. Bass will readily hit all manner of artificial lures and make fishing with live bait unnecessary. A small tackle box filled with a variety of plastic worms, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and topwaters will arm you with all the weapons necessary for a successful day of ’yak bass fishing.
Not every boat launch area is suitable for kayak fishing, however. Avoid launches that regularly see nonstop boat traffic throughout the day. If your favorite launch gets a lot of early traffic, set out a little later and peacefully fish while the powerboats are plying waters far and wide. Many launches have extended no-wake zones, and these are perfect for kayak fishing without having to worry about dodging speeding boats.
A good way to start is to look up a particular launch on Google Earth. You can get a bird’s eye view of all the surrounding waters. Look for nearby canals and coves that will get you out of high-traffic areas.
The launches at Delacroix and Reggio in St. Bernard Parish both provide kayakers with easy access to great bass fishing while offering miles of low-traffic fishing areas.
Most powerboats launching at Delacroix will head down Bayou Terre aux Boeufs or out Bayou Gentilly. Kayakers are advised to head into the nearby "Graveyard" area or back up Terre aux Boeufs. The river diversion at Caernarvon keeps the water fresh/brackish with lots of submerged grass. A Texas-rigged worm works well and won’t hang up.
While bass are abundant in Delacroix, they aren’t the only available species.
Redfish are common, as are the occasional flounder and speckled trout - all of which can be caught using the same lures. In areas where the grass isn’t too thick, try throwing a small topwater or spinnerbait.
The camps and boat docks that line Bayou Terre aux Boeufs on the highway side of Delacroix offer great hiding places for bass. Bass are structure oriented, so cast at anything that provides cover or shade for a bass to hide.
The canals and marsh at Reggio have even less boat traffic and offer unlimited areas for kayaks to fish. The bridge over the highway limits the size of boats that can get back into Bayou Terre aux Boeufs. Kayaks, on the other hand, can easily fit under the bridge as long as you remember to lower your rods (been there, forgot to do that!).
The best bet is to fish the main bayou down toward Delacroix. There are no camps or docks in this area of the bayou, but bass can be caught on either bank. You’re not likely to encounter other boats, but you might paddle past the occasional bank fisherman or crabber.
Going the other way from the Reggio launch will put you into Reggio Canal, which also provides access to the surrounding marsh and ponds. You can begin fishing as soon as you leave the launch, and many bass are caught within shouting distance of the ramp. Like Delacroix, Reggio offers a mixed bag of fresh and saltwater species, but increased use of the Caernarvon diversion during last year’s oil spill has really increased the bass-fishing opportunities.
Deep canals coupled with nearby shallow ponds and flats provide productive bass territory no matter the weather or water conditions. Reggio also has a lot of submerged grass, and weedless baits are the only way to go in some areas. Working a weedless frog on top of the thick grass mats will usually draw explosive strikes.
Locations to fish bass out of a kayak are virtually limitless. "Combat" launching off the side of a road can be inconvenient. However, developed boat launches offer easy access to the water and safe parking. Most commercial launches have conveniences like restrooms and also sell drinks, ice and tackle.
While a lot of good fishing areas are out of their reach, paddlers are quickly finding that tons of fish live in waters routinely passed over by powerboaters.
So next time that bass boat passes you by at the launch, just wave and smile, knowing you might catch just as many fish and not burn an ounce of fuel.
Sweetwater Marina 6205 Delacroix Highway Delacroix, LA 504-342-2368
Serigne’s Boat Launch 5933 Delacroix Hwy St Bernard, LA 504-265-0007
Reggio Boat Launch 1801 Delacroix Hwy Reggio, LA 504-331-4775