Saltwater, freshwater fish await anglers’ best offerings in St. Mary Parish estuary
It’s December, and the holiday bowl match-ups are starting to take shape, as well as the NFL playoff picture. That’s when you realize it’s time to do a little buttonhook of your own and catch a few fish from East Cote Blanche Bay in St. Mary Parish.
East Cote Blanche Bay is a brackish water estuary heavily influenced throughout the year by the natural, westerly flow of the Atchafalaya River. The longer the river continues to stay at flood level, the longer it remains fresh, and saltwater species like redfish and speckled trout are hard to come by.
But once fall sets in, and the river has to contend with the southerly push of saltwater flow from the Gulf, and with it comes reds, specks, flounders and croakers. The fun part about fishing this region as the winter solstice approaches is the variety of fish you can toss in the ice chest, both freshwater and saltwater species.
Bryan Charpentier of Centerville spends plenty of time fishing East Cote Blanche Bay. Over the years, he has meticulously learned how to fish the bay.
“I’ve caught specks from Point Chevreuil all the way to Mud Bayou on the west side of Point Marone,” he said. “I’ll keep fishing as long as I can if the river stays down and we don’t get a bunch of fronts that dirty up the bay. But I think the fishing will be good well into December this year.”
There’s nothing like heading north out of Burns Point Park to start a little “buttonhook” excursion along the coastline. There are shallow grass locations, rocks, drainages, canals and structure all the way to the British American Canal that provide plenty of opportunity.
West of British American Canal, anglers can fish around the mouth of Jackson Bayou. The mouth of Humble Canal starting from the weirs outward. West of Humble towards Point are plenty of drains and structure to fish before hooking it home towards the park landing.
“I catch a lot of reds on Rat-L-Traps and H&H Gold Spinners with Matrix Shad attached,” Charpentier said. “Limbo slice, tiger bait and ultra violet are all good colors I find for these waters. I’ve caught them on the shrimp creole colors, too. And, I sometimes throw Gulp; I’ve caught a few flounders on those.”
It’s not out of the ordinary to catch bass, blue catfish, channel catfish, freshwater drum (gaspergou), flounder, croaker, speckled trout and redfish in a morning trip, depending on how you fish. If you include fishing dead shrimp on the bottom with your artificial arsenal, you’re bound to catch a mixed bag.
There’s nothing quite like casting a gold Rat-L-Trap in a slough draining the marsh and nailing a bass, then turning around on the next cast and hooking up with a redfish.
No matter what fishing play you run this month, be sure to include an East Cote Blanche Bay buttonhook. You’ll be sure to score in this region.