May: A Kayak smorgasbord

Trout start heading out to the coast and barrier islands in late spring to spawn, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still find some in the coastal lakes and marshes.

In Louisiana waters, everything’s biting

What do you want to catch? Bass? Trout? Redfish? Flounder? Catfish? Bream? Even crabs? There’s no better time than now. While good kayak fishing can be had year-round in coastal Louisiana, May could be the best month for comfort and variety. Those rogue, late-April cold fronts are gone, and those scorching summer days have not yet arrived. The water’s warming by the day, and the fish are active and hungry. Now is the time.

Bass: Top pick, Delacroix

Coming off of an early spring spawn, bass are off the beds and on the prowl. Grass beds that were knocked back by winter freezes are coming back, but not yet so thick that they are impenetrable. Early mornings, try working topwater frogs or weightless Texas-rigged plastics on top of and through holes in the grass mats. If you don’t draw any strikes through the grass, let the frog sit in the open pockets of water and impart some subtle twitches. If you’re fishing with plastics, drag the lure to the edge of the grass and slowly let it sink into the holes. You can also work spinnerbaits and weedless spoons parallel to the edges of the grass beds. If you have good balance and a stable kayak, try pitching and punching through the heavier grass to get to the bass holding beneath. 

Trout: Top pick, Calcasieu 

Yes, this time of year, the specks are moving to the outside to spawn in the saltier waters near the coastline and barrier islands. Many of those areas are out of reach for kayak anglers. However, it doesn’t mean that Louisiana’s coastal lakes and marshes are devoid of trout. Trout can be caught in these areas year-round and a wide variety of methods put trout in the ’yak. The trout spawn kicks off with the April full moon and lasts for a few months. This year’s May full moon is on the 11th. A few days before and a few days after may be your best time to catch a spawning beast. The best chance to make that happen is with a topwater lure; however, live shrimp, soft plastics, popping corks, tight-lining, trolling and fishing hard plastics are all great ways to trick a trout. 

Reds: Top pick, Pointe-aux-Chenes

Redfish eat almost anything and are thick in the marsh areas this time of year. One of the easiest and most-productive redfish lures is the simple, weedless gold spoon. Rigged with a small split-ring/barrel swivel to reduce line twist, catching reds on a gold spoon is as simple as casting and reeling. Live or dead shrimp under a popping cork is equally as foolproof. Rigged about 18 inches under the cork, cast near any irregular points or cuts along the shoreline or cast upcurrent and let the cork float the bait along parallel to the shore. Although nature designed redfish as bottom feeders, do not overlook throwing topwater plugs or small crankbaits. Reds hit topwater lures ferociously, but many times, the wake from their broad foreheads pushes the lure away as they strike. This only adds more excitement as they get fired up and may hit two or three more times before connecting. 

Flounder: Top pick, Catfish Lake

Flounder have returned to the marsh this time of year. However, many reports are expressing concerns of overall population decline and that, combined with the skill necessary to specifically target them, has many kayak anglers referring to them as unicorns. Slow, shallow and deliberate is the best way to look for a flounder. The bite is distinct, with a unique “double bump” felt when a flounder hits. Their sideways mouth presents some hookset challenges, and they are notorious at shaking free just before you get them to the net. Live bait or scented plastics on a strong but light jighead are great ways to trick a flounder. Shallow areas with flat sand or mud bottoms near a current flow are where flounder like to wait and ambush as a bait comes by. Check out the corners of any pipeline canals and work or drift your baits slowly down and across them. 

Catfish: Top pick-Delacroix

This area is inundated with big blue cats but receives little direct fishing pressure. A rod and reel or setting out juglines is great sport in a kayak. Anchoring up and soaking bait on the bottom can produce some big cats. Large night crawlers or chunks of cut fish make great bait. Since this area has become more brackish, dead shrimp also works great. For even more fun, combined with a little exercise, try free-floating some jug lines for cats. Using brightly colored pool noodles for “jugs.” The fun begins as a cat starts swimming off and pulling the float under — a la Jaws. It is even more fun when multiple jugs get hooked up at the same time. The chase to retrieve the jugs in a kayak is a blast. 

Bream: Top pick, canals, marsh at Lake Catherine

Kayaks are perfect for chasing a variety of bream. Gear can be as simple as an old-school cane pole rigged with a small cork and a live worm or cricket. If you prefer casting, a light fly rod or ultralight spinning combo gets the job done. For fly fishing, tiny popping bugs that imitate spiders, bees or frogs are tough to beat. On the spinning gear, small spinners like Beetle Spins or tiny Rat-L-Traps are irresistible to hungry panfish.

This over-slot bull red couldn’t resist a free-lined live cocahoe. Reds aren’t picky eaters and devour just about anything presented in front of them.

Crabs: Top pick, Coastwide

If you’re looking for something a bit different, give kayak crabbing a try. With just a dozen or two drop nets and some chicken or turkey necks for bait, your kayak becomes a crab catching machine. Set the nets out in a uniform line and wait 15 to 20 minutes before making the first run. After that, you should be able to make repeat runs from start to finish. Keep the bait replenished as it gets washed out and eaten up. If there is a little wind or current, plan your line of nets so that you will be picking them up against the wind/current direction. 

Don’t miss out on the wide variety of action in May. No matter what you want to catch, this could be the best time of year. Enjoy the warm days and bright sunshine.

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About Chris Holmes 214 Articles
Chris Holmes has kayak fished in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and many places in between.

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