For many anglers, sac-a-lait are seasonal fish. They may give them a few weeks of the year, and then they’re back on to chasing speckled trout, bass, redfish or something else.
But for Clyde Folse, the owner of Crappie Psychic, sac-a-lait are a staple 12 months a year. And the great part is he finds the fish shallow — even in May.
Fish the canals
Early in the month, Folse fishes the manmade, 5- to 10-foot deep canals around Des Allemands and Bayou Gauche. Later in the month, he transitions to the back part of Bayou Black to catch the crappie — still under a cork.
“The depth I set my cork at depends on what time of year I’m fishing. During the spawn, I set it at 6 to 10 inches deep and fish right next to the bank. But this is usually for one or two months out of the year. The rest of the year, I always start with a cork set at 20 to 24 inches,” Folse.said.
When he’s fishing shallow, Folse looks for cut grass and rouseau along the bank.
“The root structure of those two plants really attracts the sac-a-lait,” he said. “I guess there’s some loose roots in there, and they can actually get up in those roots real close to the bank, and they can wallow out holes.”
Folse said it’s imperative to have extremely good casting accuracy.
“I get it as close to the cut grass and the roseaus as I can,” he said.
Use scented trailers
His most productive color of tube jig, Folse said, is black/white. The veteran guide manufactures scented trailers that are made to tip tube jigs. He likes the chartreuse-colored Crappie Psychic trailer, and he uses the same color of Crappie Psychic ammo, which is a small, scented pellet anglers can tip on their tube jigs.
Many crappie anglers like a 1/32-ounce jighead under their cork for its slow fall rate. Folse, however, prefers a 1/16-ounce head, but his reasoning has nothing to do with the weight.
“I always use a 1/16-ounce because of the hook size,” he said. “I don’t like a small hook. I like a No. 2 hook — it’s bigger. I don’t want to catch the perch.”
Folse fishes the combo 6 to 10 inches under a cork. During full-blown summer, he’ll move the cork up another 10 inches, so he’s fishing around 2 feet under the cork.
When anglers think of crappie, they think of light line, but Folse likes a strong, 8-pound-test.
“I’m catching six different species of fish; I’ll catch 20-pound (catfish), and I’ve caught 30-inch redfish,” he said. “I want to fight those fish and land them. That becomes a lot harder to do with 4-pound-test compared to 8-pound-test.”
If he gets snagged, it’s also a lot easier to get his jig back with heavier line, Folse said. Either the jig will pull free or the hook will bend out, allowing the angler to get the set-up back.
The size of the average sac-a-lait is biggest in December, January and February, Folse said, but in May, you can still catch nice slabs.
Des Allemands slabs
“I still catch big ones, but they’re more mixed,” he said. “Those guys that fish Lake Des Allemands with the jig poles where they’re getting up in the trees and they’re fishing around those submerged stumps — they catch some huge slabs during the summer.”
Folse hates fishing with jig poles, so he sticks to fishing canal areas throughout May and even in the summer.
One of the key things to have, Folse said, is water movement; he mentioned that no matter what time of year it is, the sac-a-lait fishing will always be better with some current.
“Along the Intracoastal (Waterway), you have these huge, triple-decker tugs pushing six or seven barges at a time,” he said. “When they pass in the Intracoastal, it sucks water out the side canals, so you’ll be in there fishing, and all of a sudden, that water will just start pulling out. It’s only a 5-minute bite, but when that water starts pulling out, they’ll start biting. They think it’s tide movement.”