Acadiana anglers can make a 10-minute run to East Cote Blanche Bay’s Humble Canal to find all the redfish they can handle. Here’s how to get in on the action.
It was a blasted shame. On one couch in a comatose sugar shock was my son-in-law, staring at the television. In my lounge chair reclining rocker was my oldest son and his wife, both sawing logs sound asleep.
In the back bedrooms I could hear my two grandsons playing a marathon video game. They had come out to eat Christmas dinner with the rest of the family a couple hours earlier — then it was back to cyber combat with some alien.
“Well, at least they are awake and seemingly defending the world in their minds,” I thought to myself.
On every square inch of our kitchen counter were pans of an endless food supply and decadent desserts that had caused the casualties.
In short, I’d had enough, and was going stir crazy and becoming bored watching football teams I don’t normally root for. Moreover, I was worn out from the mindless machinations of reality television.
What I did next caused me to break the traditional holiday rules: I roused my sons and grandsons, ordering them to muster outside while I hooked up the bay boat for a Christmas afternoon fishing trip to Humble Canal in East Cote Blanche Bay.
Located on the northwestern shore of the bay, the Humble and surrounding waters can produce some excellent redfish catches this time of year. And a quick check of the tidal chart revealed we’d get 2 to 2 ½ hours of a steady falling tide to fish before the combination of winter solstice and daylight savings time’s early darkness caught up with us.
The bay was like glass when we put out at Burns Point landing at the end of Highway 317 south of Centerville. As made the 10-minute boat ride across the bay, I had a good feeling we’d catch things just right.
Though only armed with dead shrimp, some plastics, a few spoons and swim baits, we had enough tackle to make some noise.
The mouth of the Humble where it opens up into the bay runs deep — as much as 40 feet in spots, according to my depth finder.
It also slopes upwards to the bank on both sides of the canal, where you can easily fish shallow to deep as need dictates. It’s a matter of assessing the situation when you get there.
A trip to the Humble will quite often find boats setting on anchors during a falling tide, with a couple of anglers essentially tight-lining as you would catfish. Other times, guys will be banging the banks with lures such as Rat-L-Traps.
With three adults and two youngsters in the boat, my plan was to set an anchor and fish the west side of the canal where the water poured out in full force. There just wasn’t enough casting room for everyone to chuck lures safely and effectively.
A couple guys would toss popping corks in the shallows, while the rest of us would fish the bottom.
The bottom-fishing crew struck first when my son-in-law almost immediately hooked up with a good redfish. Once it was safely in the boat and on ice, my grandson got in on the action, too.
It was funny that not an hour earlier he was slamming aliens using an electronic controller and now he was slamming a redfish with a spinning rig loaded with 10-pound-test Berkley Trilene XL.
Not a bad start and a huge departure from the eat-sleep-eat mode the crew was in earlier.
A few others who fish East Cote Blanche Bay during the fall and winter months have had similar results. Centerville resident Eddie Darce makes several trips to the bay each year and said any color jighead — red, white, chartreuse, pink or plain old lead with no paint — will work.
Darce said that, because the water ranges 3 to 40 feet, he brings an assortment of jigs in weights ranging from ¼ to ¾ ounce.
The angler owns Cuddin Eddie’s barbecue sauce, pepper relish, olive oils and seasoning products, and said it can get a little crowded.
“Sometimes there is a load of boats there when the bite is on, so I’ll find a spot and squeeze in amongst them and fish off the bottom with a jighead,” Darce said. “Sometimes I’ll do a slow reel and drag the bottom with the bait. Other times I may cast out and make about three rounds with the reel, then pull the bait hard up off the bottom and let it fall back down.”
Darce also said water color and current are important ingredients to a successful trip in the bay.
“Clearer water always seems to be the best, but I’ve caught fish when the water is a bit cloudy,” he said “And a moving tide, either up or down, is always best.
“A slack tide can sometimes make you work hard, especially if you’re also looking for trout in the area.”
The Humble is sort of the gauge for East Cote Blanche Bay when the bite is on during the fall and winter months. But also worth mentioning is Yellow Bayou on the northeastern side of the bay, the British American Canal at the northern point, and any of the drainages and small bayous running west of the Humble toward Marone Point.
When fishing these other areas, Patterson resident Gerald Foulcard prefers artificial baits. A tournament bass angler first, when the occasion arises he’ll get a line wet with saltwater when the bite is on.
“Early mornings I like topwater baits like buzz baits, poppers and chuggers near British American Canal and Yellow Bayou areas when you can find some grass,” Foulcard said. “When the sun gets near the 9 o’clock hour, I switch to spinnerbaits and spoons in the grass. But, you’ve got to feel the fish out to determine whether you have to fish a fast, medium or slow retrieve.
“By the time midday arrives, I’ll fish deeper on bright clear days with artificial baits that mimic shrimp.”
Foulcard said he doesn’t camp out in any particular spot, preferring to run and gun points, bayous and sloughs emptying into the bay.
While he’s most likely to use artificials, Foulcard admitted that live bait such as shrimp, cocahoe minnows, pogies or anything live you can catch in a cast net can be deadly on redfish.
Bayou Vista resident Ray Beadle said that when water color in the bay is muddy success can be found fishing thick grass beds found by entering the Humble and zigzagging through the first bayou on the left towards Marone Point.
“I’d put a gold spoon on and fish all the way to the bay,” Beadle said. “I’d ease on to the west and sight-fish all the way. On days when the water is clearer we’d fish Rat-L-Traps all around the point to the east and west toward the Jaws in West Cote Blanche Bay.
“You always hear that redfish can be finicky; that’s why live bait works so well. But I’ve been so successful with artificial bait over the years I just didn’t fish with (live bait).”
Two of the big influences on East Cote Blanche Bay are freshwater coming from the Calumet Spillway and the Atchafalaya River. But by late summer the river falls below flood stage in Morgan City and the waters become conducive for an influx of redfish, black drum and speckled trout as the water in the bay becomes more brackish.
The second influence involves weather fronts that stir up the water and put a damper on the fishing.
On our trip, my oldest son got in on the action by casting a dark blue-and-chartreuse H&H cocahoe minnow toward the bank in about 3 feet of water.
A redfish whacked the plastic and took off with the current, causing the drag to zing for a couple seconds before the bend in his rod slowed it down.
The tussle didn’t last long, and one of the boys grabbed a net.
We managed to catch a couple more reds and tossed back a few black-striped puppy drum that didn’t make the 16-inch cut before sunset.
When the sun finally kissed the horizon, we pulled up anchor and turned the boat east to Burns Point Landing — all the while thanking East Cote Blanche Bay for the Humble holiday memories.
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