Every winter and spring, I make a few flyfishing trips to Arkansas for rainbow trout. Now, thanks to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries (LDWF), I don’t have to drive so far to enjoy catching the colorful fish.
In November 2014, the department launched its popular Get Out & Fish! program where channel catfish are stocked in 17 public ponds in the spring and fall, and rainbow trout are stocked in the winter.
When asked why the program was initiated, the department’s Heather Fox David replied, “LDWF was hoping to provide quality fishing access close to home at sites that do not require a boat to fish. The Department also hopes to introduce new anglers to the sport of fishing while giving active and former anglers a site to practice their skills and potentially bring home supper for the evening.”
Rainbow trout are not native to Louisiana, so the fish are trucked in from Crystal Lake Fisheries in Ava, Missouri. Then it’s a matter of choosing a pond in which to place them.
David explained, “We partner with community organizations to identify locations within a short distance from a community or town. All ponds must be open to the public. Ideal sites are three to 10-acre ponds with amenities such as restrooms, parking and play areas. LDWF biologists assess each potential pond for suitability as a healthy fishery.”
Need cool water
David said that the rainbow trout are stocked during the winter because they need cool water to thrive.
“They do best in temperatures under 68 degrees, so we encourage anglers to catch these fish before the warmer weather arrives,” she said.
Several methods can be used to catch the trout. Using a light line, put corn, night crawlers, crappie nibbles or power baits on a small hook and fish on the bottom on warm days and under a cork during cool weather. Small spinnerbaits such as rooster tails can also be effective.
Anglers are encouraged to go to the Get Out & Fish! website at https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/get-out-and-fish and complete the online check-in form. Data collected so far shows that the trout program has been a great success.
“We can see that these sites are indeed being used by new and active anglers, and the channel catfish and rainbow trout we stock are being harvested,” David said. “We have also seen an increase of former anglers visiting our sites because they are closer to home, and they get a chance to catch a rainbow trout.”
A basic fishing license is required for people 18 and over, and the daily limit is five trout per person. For more information on the Get Out & Fish! program and a list of the ponds, go to https://www.facebook.com/ldwfgetoutandfish.
“Park” and fish
One of the ponds chosen for stocking is located in New Orleans’ Joe Brown Park. Approximately 500 pounds of trout, which translates to 500-1,000 fish, were put into the pond on Jan. 26.
Bayou Segnette State Park, which is located just across the Mississippi River from New Orleans at Westwego, is a good place to stay for those wanting to try their hand at Joe Brown Park’s trout fishing.
Located on the edge of the marsh, Bayou Segnette has 12 water-front cabins, 98 campsites with water and electrical hookups, a shower house, free laundry facilities, playgrounds, a wave pool, pavilions, picnic tables and a nature center.
A large multi-boat ramp also allows fishermen to access both fresh and salt water to fish for bass, bream, crappie, redfish and speckled trout.
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