Where: Toledo Bend
What: Crappie (aka sac-a-lait/white perch)
How: While widely known for its great bass fishing, crappie may be Toledo’s not-so-secret secret. The fall and winter fishing for crappie can be off the charts. Crappie will be off of the brush piles and holding along the deeper edges of creeks and channels. A depth finder is invaluable for finding concentrations of fish. Depending on the water temps, the fish will be scattered during warm spells or deeper and bunched up as the temperature drops. Finding fish on the depth finder makes them easy to target and put lures right up to their face. Small tube jigs, curly tails and live minnows all do the trick. Fish slowly and watch your line for the slightest twitch.
Launch: There are numerous launches and facilities all along the Louisiana side of Toledo Bend. From dirt roads to full-service marinas, the launch options are nearly endless. Several locations offer cabins and camping areas. Louisiana has north and south state parks on Toledo bend that offer cabins, camping and boat launches.
Insider tip: If you’re not familiar with Toledo Bend, start your trip at one of the full service marinas like Jolly Roger, where you can get local knowledge and information in order to cut down on wasted time and energy.
Jolly Roger Marina- Facebook
Where: Delacroix Island
What: Speckled trout, redfish, bass
How: The area offers a blend of shallow marsh for fast action on warmer days, and some deeper bayous and pipelines where the fish seek refuge if it gets cold. The thick grass of summer has subsided, and the trout have moved into the marsh for their winter patterns. Topwater baits are easier to work with the thinner grass and are productive on warmer days. Live bait may be available at the local marinas, but usually isn’t necessary. Plastics tight-lined or popped under a cork generally do the trick. If it’s cold, look for the deep canals and deadend pipelines not far from the launches. Slowly work jigheads/plastics on the ledges. Position the kayak where you can work the bait down, or up onto, a ledge — depending on where they are holding. Any cast is likely to yield a trout, red or bass, all in the same spot and all on the same lure.
Launch: Two commercial launches offer concrete ramps and secure parking. Both have small stores and sell live and dead bait when available. Good fishing can be found within sight of the launches, so fish your way out and you may not have to paddle very far.
Serigne’s Marina: 5933 Delacroix Highway, St. Bernard, La. (504)265-0007, $5 launch fee.
Sweetwater Marina: 6205 Delacroix Highway, St. Bernard, La. (504)342-2368, $10 launch fee per kayak.
Insider tip: Duck season opens November 10 and runs into December and January. Keep a watchful eye out for duck boats and give the hunters a wide berth if you come across them set up in a pond. Camps, rooms and cabins are available throughout the area. Ask the marina owners for recommendations.