Hopscotching the gas wells

Capt. Steve Himel (504-458-8737) bases his operation out of Delacroix Island, but often makes the haul over to Bay Eloi in late May and early June.

“Generally we have to deal with a high river right now, and that makes Black Bay a muddy mess,” Himel said. “River water pushes the decent water and the bait and the fish all farther to the east toward Lake Fortuna and Bay Eloi, so that’s where I go to find clean, fishable water.”

Himel said that by late summer the better action switches more to the west as the river falls, and that’s when he’ll focus on Black Bay structures.

“So in June I’ll fish along the rocks, and I’ll head out into Bay Eloi to play hopscotch among the small gas wells,” he said.

The larger structures in the big bay attract more attention from anglers, but Himel said the smaller wells — those with “cribbing” (wood structure such as pilings and protective cross beams) around them — hold plenty of fish this month.

And he has them almost entirely to himself.

“I bounce from one to another, looking for fish,” Himel said. “They can be on any side of the small structures, so you have to fish all around them — and they can be up close to the rig or 20 to 50 feet off the structure.

“Once you catch a few fish at any rig, you’ll see the pattern and you can fish it the same way at each well you try. For instance, if you catch them downcurrent at one well, that’s where they’ll be at the others. If they’re holding on the northwest corner at one well, that’s where they’ll be at the others.

“Find the pattern and you’ll catch more fish.”

For bait, Himel said you just can’t beat live shrimp and croakers.

“I prefer to fish them on a Carolina rig, which does mean you are subject to snags, but I find it far more productive,” he said. “If you choose to fish under a cork, I suggest a sliding cork set to a depth of between 4 and 6 feet for the best chance of success.”

About Rusty Tardo 370 Articles
Rusty Tardo grew up in St. Bernard fishing the waters of Delacroix, Hopedale and Shell Beach. He and his wife, Diane, have been married over 40 years and live in Kenner.