Bassin’ at the Basin

Action dictated by Atchafalaya River levels

Many Atachafalaya Basin bassin’ hotspots west of the Atchafalaya River have been heating up and ought to be red-hot in September.

No one knows that better than veteran Acadiana anglers who fish Hawg Fights — mini bass tournaments held every other Wednesday evening.

Once the nation’s last great overflow swamp finally fell to a fishable level in July, it was game on — especially for those who like to fish buzz baits and plastic frogs.

Those and other artificial lures should be the main meal tickets this month, according to Mike Sinitiere and Jacob Shoopman, both of New Iberia, and Andre Cazelot of Parks. Sinitiere and his Hawg Fight partner, Brooke Morrison of Broussard, clinched the Angler(s) of the Year title for 2017 in the 10th and final Hawg Fight Aug. 9 at Bayou Benoit Boat Landing.

The event was won by Cazelot and Neil Robin of Cecilia, while Shoopman had the biggest bass at 3.2 pounds.

The Atchafalaya River stage at Butte La Rose dictates which locations can be fished. The lower it falls below 5 feet, the more destinations that cannot be reached easily — if at all — in boats powered by conventional outboards.

Shoopman, 29, a Mister Twister pro staffer, is hopeful the Grevemberg and Mud Cove areas recover from bad water that came out when the Spillway dropped fast from 11 to 6 feet. There were reports of fish kills, so he planned to monitor the areas, but said if conditions are right bass can be caught consistently around the grass beds.

He’ll have one of the chartreuse/white buzz baits made by his uncle Bill Shoopman of Kansas City, Mo. at the ready, or a hollow-bodied plastic frog like the bluegill Terminator Walking Frog. He’ll cast them early and late, or all day if it’s overcast.

“The key is to bring it by the right spot, right by the structure, working it slow,” he said.

Shoopman said Stanley Vibra-Shaft spinnerbaits and sexy shad KVD crank baits are effective in the borrow pits above Myette Point in September. So is a ½-ounce jig with an Okeechobee-colored Mister Twister Pocket Craw, which he likes to flip along the edges of lily pads.

Some of his biggest bass this time of year are caught while working a bluegill flash-colored Mister Twister SwimSation around grass beds, he said.

When September rolls around, Sinitiere will rely on a chartreuse/white or chartreuse/blue/white ¼- or ⅜-ounce spinnerbait, either a Humdinger or a Stanley. He believes bass are more active this time of year, particularly when the water cools.

Sinitiere said some productive areas when the river stage is under 6 feet include the series of Amoco borrow pits between Myette Point and Charenton, as well as the Verdunville area. He also likes to flip soft plastic creature baits or retrieve spinnerbaits around cypress trees in Charenton Lake if he can get there and if water conditions permit.

Sinitiere, 56, also knows Bayou Benoit, to the left of the boat landing, gives up its share of fish in September — and Cazelot agreed.

“If it (river stage) is low, you can catch 30 to 50 fish a day (in the Bayou Benoit area),” Cazelot said. “If it continues to get low, definitely get around points and drains. If it’s up, there are more things you can do.”

That includes throwing plastic frogs in duck weed in Beau Bayou, and flipping soft plastics around cypress trees in Charenton Lake and any structure in Mama’s Pond or around Myette Point.

About Don Shoopman 563 Articles
Don Shoopman fishes for freshwater and saltwater species mostly in and around the Atchafalaya Basin and Vermilion Bay. He moved to the Sportsman’s Paradise in 1976, and he and his wife June live in New Iberia. They have two grown sons.