Lake Salvador ‘redfish’ proving tough to catch

Big schools of Asian carp creating confusion for anglers

Lake Salvador has been producing some good redfish the last few weeks, but it’s also produced a lot of frustration among anglers.

The frustration comes when they see big schools of redfish swarming in the shallows, but they won’t bite. Spoons, soft plastics, shrimp and topwaters are all equally spurned by what seems to be very finicky reds.

But former charter guide Gordon Matherne knows why they aren’t biting.

“They’re not redfish, they’re Asian carp. Lake Salvador is loaded with them right now. They’re all over the lake and they can really fool you into thinking they’re redfish. You’ll see them all schooled up and think you’ve found a redfish bonanza, but whatever you cast they ignore. That’s carp,” Matherne said. “They eat aquatic plants, insects, clams, dead stuff off the bottom and lots of other stuff, but you’ll rarely catch one on a bait. And they always travel in schools, never alone. I threw a cast net to find out what they are.

“I caught a 17-pound one that appears to be a bighead carp, one of the two varieties we’ve been invaded by. These fish average 5- to 10-pounds, but they can easily get up to 40 pounds or more. Giants have been caught up to 100 pounds in some habitats.”

Matherne says there are some redfish mixed in, so that’s why every now and then you’ll catch one.

“It makes you think it’s a big school of all reds, but its not. It’s mostly carp with a few reds mixed in here and there,” he said.

These carp are freshwater fish that are hardy and appear to be adapting to the slightly brackish water in Lake Salvador. Hopefully they’ll retreat when Lake Salvador gets a good influx of salt water from the Gulf.

In the meantime, don’t feel so frustrated when that huge school of redfish ignores your bait. If they ignore you, it’s not reds — it’s carp!

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About Rusty Tardo 359 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.

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