Catfish in waiting

Ashten and Aiden Nay were fishing with their Uncle Pete when they caught these beautiful blue catfish.

Vallee uses time between running crab traps to catch Lacombe cats

Anglers are fascinating creatures. Some make significant investments in boats, while others purchase every favorite lure color. Rituals are followed, and an expanse of water is studied repeatedly to find a hotbed of fishing action. Tim Vallee, Jr., a local realtor and resident of Madisonville, defies the odds and follows a more individualized path to fishing success.

Vallee’s passion does not lie with pulling large lunker bass from marsh beds or fishing bridges and railroad trestles for speckled trout and redfish. Instead, running crab traps on Bayou Lacombe fuels his fire. Every crabber knows a waiting period must be managed between baiting and seizing the catch. That is when Vallee turns to what he describes as the most basic rod and reel combo and he starts casting. The result is an impressive catch of catfish to accompany whatever crabs fall victim to his traps.

“I honestly don’t even recall the brand of rod and reel I have in my boat,” said Vallee. “Any old pole will do.”

Heading for the beach

Vallee launches his aluminum craft at Lake Road on Bayou Lacombe and motors south toward Lake Pontchartrain. After strategically placing his traps, he continues toward the well-known beach area near Bayou Lacombe’s mouth. After baiting a weighted hook with dead shrimp, Vallee starts casting.

“Chunk it out to the middle of the bayou,” he said. “Don’t crank or bob it; just wait it out.”

Vallee’s idea of “the wait” is much shorter than one might think. Although he is catching a generous helping of 12 to 16-inch catfish, the crab traps remain his passion. He will stop casting when needed to check his traps only to repeat the bait and fish scenario, which proves possible for an additional round.

While the ‘Wait and Dead Shrimp partnership” brings success, Vallee indicates there is a third component to his catfishing strategy. Water movement is critical, not necessarily low or high tide. Many anglers who fish Bayou Lacombe attest to the same theory. Whether floating low or high tide, the water must be moving.

“I don’t focus on high or low tide,” Vallee said. “I’m there mainly to catch crabs, but if the water isn’t moving, I usually don’t catch much on the rod and reel.”

Bayou Lacombe typically thrives as a hotbed of activity during the spring and summer months. Some utilize it as a quick outlet to Lake Pontchartrain, while others attempt varying techniques to pull lunkers and copious quantities of multiple species of fish. Significant effort is exerted in these exercises, but Vallee’s leisurely approach validates the idea of slowing down and getting back to basics if one wants to catch fish, even catfish.

“I love crabbing,” said Vallee. “I can fill up the ice chest and put together a $200 meal for the family. The catfish are just a bonus and more food on the table.”