Disregarded Reggio

Respectable catches consistently come from this destination that gets no respect.

“I get no respect. The way my luck is running, if I was a politician I’d be honest.” —Rodney Dangerfield

Reggio has to be the Rodney Dangerfield of fishing destinations; it gets absolutely no respect. It’s ignored, overlooked and disregarded by a vast majority of anglers even though its located smack dab in the middle of two of the most popular launching sites in all of Southeast Louisiana.

Delacroix-bound anglers unknowingly whiz right past it in a mad rush to the most popular launch sites a little farther down the road, and those headed for Hopedale bypass it altogether.

Slighted, disrespected, disregarded — Reggio and Rodney have a lot in common.

Maybe Reggio gets no respect because it’s so tiny. The whole community consists of a few houses, camps, trailers, an Assembly of God church and the marina.

And with the marina snuggled up right beside the little bridge where the Reggio Canal connects to Bayou Terre Aux Boeufs, well, if you blink your eyes, you’ll miss it altogether.

Undaunted, locals and other savvy anglers continue to fish the region year-round, and the fact that most anglers ignore their haunts only makes them like the area all the more. Truth be told, it’s only your loss if you continue to bypass it because it’s a place far too valuable to ignore.

Actually, through the years I’ve had some pretty incredible trips out of Reggio. For some reason, I always think of it when fishing action is slow. When the fishing is really “on” in Southeast Louisiana, you can catch fish everywhere, and anglers gravitate toward the popular launch sites.

But when it’s “off,” as it is during the so-called transition months, you either stay home and shine up your reels, or you pound the same familiar waters with the same familiar baits, hoping for a different outcome (they say the definition of insanity is repeatedly doing the exact same thing in the exact same way, while expecting a different result).

I’ve fished the “off” months with a variety of guides who work regularly out of Reggio, and always successfully. We slaughtered redfish in the marsh a while back with Capt. Nash Roberts IV, and I’ve had memorable trout trips with Capt. Darren Schaff, Capt. Cisco Serpas and the late Capt. Milton Balser, not to mention the times I’ve fished the area with Reggio Marina owner Harold Kelt (who is still recovering from quadruple bypass surgery, and hopes to be back to work by press time).

The point is, whenever the fishing gets tough, there is a little trigger that goes off in my mind reminding me of Reggio. Somehow, we’ve always seemed to be able to find fish there even under tough conditions.

So when my little “trigger” went off recently (right after I made a trip to a popular launch site and came home empty-handed), the word “Reggio” popped into my mind, and I called an old friend, Capt. Mike Herrmann (504-271-0335), to see if we could make a trip.

We met at the crack of dawn, loaded our gear into his big 18-foot custom flatboat, and the 150-horsepower Mercury zipped us down the Reggio Canal into the marshy backwaters of the region.

As we made the meandering ride down the Reggio Canal toward Bayou LaChape, I reminded myself of my intention to learn these waters better. I’ve claimed a dozen times that I would fish more often out of Reggio and become more familiar with the area. But these speeches to myself have been as hollow as my New Year’s resolutions, and last just about as long. This time, however, I tell myself it’ll be different. This time I’ll follow up. Really.

Herrmann made a sweeping motion with his hand toward the broken marsh all around Grand Lagoon, and said the whole area is prime redfish country.

“I find that redfish seem to love the jagged, broken marsh,” Herrmann said. “The more ragged the edges of the shoreline are, the more the redfish like it. Maybe it provides better cover, or better places for them to hide in ambush, but I always find more redfish along jagged shorelines than smooth ones. And the broken marsh ponds out here are perfect.

“I love this kind of fishing, just drifting and trolling the shallow ponds all over this area.”

His enthusiasm was contagious. I made more mental notes to return to this marsh as soon as possible to explore it. I was already formulating a plan when Herrmann interrupted my train of thought.

“I could easily spend the whole day just trolling these ponds, working the shorelines, casting for redfish,” he said. “Everybody likes to fish points and cuts, where redfish do like to hang out. But I look for the coves and pockets along the broken shorelines in the ponds, and that’s where I always find the reds.”

“What kind of baits do you toss in those coves?” I asked.

“Weedless gold spoons, and if it’s not too grassy, beetle-spins, in-line spinnerbaits, soft plastics like the H&H cocahoes, and topwater baits,” he answered.

“There are also a lot of lagoons and ponds right off to the side of Bayou LaChape, and those are also excellent places to hunt reds,” he added.

“The key to fishing the ponds successfully is to be as quiet as possible, so as not to spook the customers you’re trying to attract. So don’t go roaring into the pond with your outboard. Shut down the noisemaker, and drift or troll in with your trolling motor.

“And don’t think you have to troll all the way up to within casting distance of the bank to start fishing. Sometimes the fish are right up against the shoreline, but in these ponds, I often find them 20 to 50 yards off the bank.

“Start casting when you enter the pond, casting your bait as far away from you as possible. Usually, the water in the ponds is not only shallow, but it’s clear, and that means the fish can see your boat when you get up close. The sight of something as big as that will spook them. So cast far up ahead for the best likelihood of a hookup.”

After a few twists and turns, we wound up in the Twin Pipeline Canal, just to the east of Grand Lagoon. The water initially looked dirty and debris-filled, but once we trolled north for a few minutes we found ourselves in clear, clean water. We started working both sides of the Pipeline Canal, and found trout at the washouts in the marsh.

“The weather is definitely on the warm-up,” Herrmann said, “so the fish are beginning to move in earnest over the shallow flats, over the oyster reefs and along shallow shorelines. That’s where the bait generally gathers, and they’ll chase the bait.

“Up until now, they’ve stayed pretty close to the deeper waters of the bayous and canals, so they could make a quick retreat if another cold front blew through. But now, that’s just not likely to happen. Spring has sprung and these fish are in shallow water, and they are making some moves toward the outside.

“Pretty soon, all the action will be in the big outside waters. But right now they’re in these marshes, in the ponds, in the washouts, over the reefs and over the flats.”

To prove his point, he reeled in another nice speckled trout and added it to the growing collection in his ice chest.

The fish were showing a definite preference for chartreuse-colored plastics on a ¼-ounce jig. I had started the morning fishing a black/charteuse color, and later switched to purple/white, but neither bait had provoked as much as a bump.

Meanwhile, Herrmann and our mutual buddy, retired N.O. Fire Department Capt. Harry Morter, were putting fish in the boat. I dug in my toybox for a personal favorite, an Old Bayside Skeleton Shad in chartreuse/tomato core, and strung it on my jighead. Herrmann said the color reminded him of some old bass lures he used to fish with, but the color must have looked like food to the trout because within minutes I had put two nice ones in the box.

After the shallow marsh ponds, Herrmann says his second preference for Reggio fishing this month is the “Three Sisters” — Lake Amedee, Tanasia Lagoon and Petain Lagoon. All are relatively shallow, all are a quick, easy run from Reggio, Hopedale or Delacroix, and all are excellent “transition month” hotspots.

“These areas really turn on this month, and you should be able to find trout in all of them,” Herrmann said. “Drift until you find them. Once you get a few hits, either re-drift that area again, or try to anchor over it and sit on them for a while.”

Herrmann says to look for clean water, baitfish activity (especially schools of mullet) and birds.

“The birds will show up this month feeding on the schools of shrimp, and you can bet there will be trout under them,” he said.

Herrmann says you can fish the birds most productively using tandem jigs either tightlined or under a popping cork. But he warns against trying to get your boat too close to the diving birds, or you’ll risk scattering the school of trout.

“Remember, they can see your boat in the shallow, clear water,” he said.

The best technique is to hang around the fringes of the feeding birds, casting as far as you can toward them. That way, you just pick the fish off, and the school will hang around much longer.

Besides the shallow marsh ponds and the Three Sisters, Herrmann says April is an excellent month to fish Lake Robin.

“Lake Robin has some really good things going for it. First, it’s big, and it’s close to the sound. Perhaps for that reason, it’s one of the areas where the shrimp first begin to show up. Of course, where the shrimp are, there will be trout and redfish and flounder; and Lake Robin has another feature that attracts big trout: Those sandy shorelines that the big spawning trout seem to prefer,” he said.

Herrmann says he fishes Lake Robin much the same way as he does Amedee, Tanasia and Petain, using a drift-and-troll technique. And he prefers to do his drifting and trolling along the windy side of the lake.

“That’s where the bait is concentrated,” he said. “If you find a few fish, stick the anchor over and try to stay on the action, or re-drift the same area again. Keep at it, and you’ll put some fish in the box.

“Also, look for signs of baitfish in the water, especially schools of mullet, and fish around them. Trout and redfish like to inhale small mullet, so that’s a good place to toss topwater baits, shallow-diving crankbaits and soft plastics,” he said.

Herrmann says you should be able to find some good, clean water in Lake Robin this month, unless we’ve had strong west or northerly winds that tend to muddy things up. And he says to look for birds, which should show up this month and will lead you straight to the trout.

“The trout aren’t always big under the birds, as most anglers know, but don’t dismiss a flock of diving birds until you find out what’s under them. We catch some beautiful trout under the birds every year,” he said.

As for bait? Herrmann says he fishes bright-colored plastics (chartreuse, glow, pink) on bright, sunny days and darker colors (purple, avocado, black, smoke, strawberry) on overcast days.

“Fish them either tightlined, or tie them under a Cajun Thunder popping cork,” he said.

Topwater baits will produce some great catches this month, as will shallow swimming hard baits. And you can always soak a live minnow or some dead shrimp if you prefer, he said.

By the time we headed the boat back to the dock, we had a very respectable collection of speckled trout in the box. Not bad at all for a destination that gets no respect.

About Rusty Tardo 371 Articles
Rusty Tardo grew up in St. Bernard fishing the waters of Delacroix, Hopedale and Shell Beach. He and his wife, Diane, have been married over 40 years and live in Kenner.