The perfect time to drop goggle-eye after goggle-eye after goggle-eye in the ice chest — and eventually into the frying pan — has arrived in south-central Louisiana.
That is, if the water temperature climbs higher than 70 degrees. Usually, the run starts in April and continues until the water gets too hot, typically around mid-August when those and other fish seek cooler water.
Bill McCarty, a lifelong Morgan City resident and all-around outdoorsman, enjoys setting the hook on those panfish, many of them bigger than his hand. So does his wife, Julie, and their daughter, Jill, and friends who are lucky enough to take him up on a practically guaranteed invite to catch goggle-eye.
It’s bream, er, goggle-eye, fishing at its finest. It’s pure delight.
“It’s a good family trip. It’s a good action trip,” McCarty said.
One of his favorite places to tap the goggle-eye is Bay Wallace along the Intracoastal Waterway a few miles east of Amelia. It’s actually a fairly long bayou lined with cypress trees.
Those cypress trees and cypress knees in 2½- to 3-foot depths harbor goggle-eye, bull bream and sac-a-lait. Now more than ever is the time to pull in dozens of goggle-eye as they move up to spawn.
McCarty advised anglers to go in and travel up the bayou until the water clears, then fish either shoreline.
“It doesn’t matter. I find either side good,” he said.
McCarty will move down the bank using his trolling motor, dropping a crawfish-colored hair jig tipped with a Crappie Nibble in and around the cypress trees and cypress knees in the preferred depth.
“A lot of guys use jigs (tipped) with a piece of worm,” he said.
If sac-a-lait are prevalent and hungry, as they often are, he’ll pull out one of his bassing rods and feed them a small, watermelon/red or green pumpkin Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Craw, Texas-rigged under a light worm weight. That’s a goggle-eye favorite.
What he uses
McCarty, an accomplished bass angler, fishes a hair jig on his favorite sac-a-lait poles, a 5- or 5½-foot Zebco Delta spincast combo. He uses 6-pound monofilament and a small cork above the jig. Another favorite of his is a crawfish-colored Beetle Spin.
If Bay Wallace’s goggle-eye aren’t biting, McCarty points panfishermen east to Bluebird Canal, dead-ends along Bayou Copasaw and the Bayou Black area.
“If the water’s too high (in Bay Wallace),” he said, head for those areas,
Many dead-end canals in those marshy areas, he said, are undercut, so you can cast or drop a hair jig or tube jig right along the shoreline and still be in the desired depth to target goggle-eye. That isn’t always the case along the shallower shorelines of Bay Wallace. That’s why the cypress tree/cypress knees pattern away from the bank can be lights out on goggle-eye.
I have been fishing Bay Wallace for 45 years and it is one of the best spots for pan fishing in the bayou Black area as long as the water is not too high then the fish are in areas you just cannot reach. The spot is a great catfish fishery also with the jugging producing really nice cats average about 6 to 8 lbs.