Sac-a-lait moving into creeks, following bait
When baitfish start heading to the back of coves and other prime areas in October at Henderson Lake, sac-a-lait, aka crappie, and at least one successful angler follow them.
Derek Picard of Lafayette consistently targets the coves and other areas this time of year and usually catches a limit of slabs averaging ¾- to 1-pound and as big as 1¼- to 1½-pounds. For example, a Labor Day weekend trip resulted in he and a fishing buddy catching and keeping 50 — and he doesn’t keep any sac-a-lait unless its 10 inches or longer.
Picard knows some of the best days for putting slabs in the boat are ahead as late summer turns to fall. That’s when sac-a-lait hunt down the shad that congregate in certain areas of the lake in St. Martin Parish, and he hunts down the sac-a-lait.
“All I do is pop a cork,” he said, modestly.
It’s what’s below his cork and where he puts it that makes the difference. He fishes with a 1/32-ounce shad-colored Mr. Nelson hair jig he believes resembles a grass shrimp that he gets at Nelson Credeur’s The Fishing Store in Lafayette.
The depth to fish
And depending on the gauge at Pelba Bay, say, 9 feet, he and other successful sac-a-lait fishermen fish as deep as 9 feet and as shallow as 21/2 feet. The depth the hair jig is fished also depends on how deep the sac-a-lait are suspended, he said.
Picard, 37, who has worked the past 2½ years at Superior Trolling Motors in Lafayette, said he started fishing Henderson Lake at age 8 with his father, Michael Picard. He was a regular in the annual Association of Louisiana Bass Clubs Youth Fishing Tournaments at Henderson.
Obviously, he learned the basics well and expanded his sac-a-lait skills over the years, taking home firsts, seconds and thirds in tournaments.
“There are three areas I’m fishing at that time of year,” he said.
Those include sunken brush tops along I-10, deadfalls protruding out from the shoreline in Phillips Canal and the numerous stumps along the edge of the deep drop-off in Fordache Canal. Last October and November, he picked up plenty of sac-a-lait off brush piles along I-10, he said.
Outside Henderson Lake, Picard targets sac-a-lait in and around the sunken treetops along the Big Alabama Bayou in the upper Atchafalaya Basin.
Picard relies on marine electronics to find underwater structure that holds sac-a-lait.
“I find laydowns off dropoffs, underwater structure and baitfish. You have to have deeper water nearby that time of year,” he said.
As good as the sac-a-lait fishing can be in Henderson Lake, bassing success can be just as hot there, Picard said. He catches most of his bass on chartreuse/black Strike King KVD 1.5 crankbaits around points and drains in the Phillips Canal and points in Opelousas Bay and north and south Lake Bigeux.
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