This month, Hopedale full of hope
Fall is the time of year when trout begin their transition from the outer bays and journey into the interior marshes. This is great news for kayakers, as limits of trout will be within easy reach of these people-powered craft. After enduring several summer months of hearing about all the big trout caught in outer areas unreachable by kayak, this is welcome news.
For fantastic late-season fishing, kayak anglers need look no further than Hopedale. A great mix of shallow marsh, deep bayous and even the MRGO ship channel means that Hopedale will hold fish all fall and winter, no matter the day’s conditions.
Launching from Breton Sound Marina or the old Pip’s Place, ‘yakers will find short paddles and an abundance of protected, productive fishing areas. For kayakers, there are four main areas in Hopedale that should not be ignored.
Launching from Pip’s into Bayou LaLoutre, good fishing begins as soon as you turn south into Hopedale Bayou. Trout and redfish regularly stack up in the bayou and at the point where it enters into Hopedale Lagoon.
Docks, both old and new, as well as pilings and oyster reefs, all offer good structure to locate hungry fish.
Live shrimp, live cocahoes and your favorite soft plastic/jig combinations will all do the trick. Stake out on the sides of the bayou, and work your bait with the current.
Moving out into Hopedale Lagoon, two main techniques will put fish in your kayak. Reds and flounder can be found working the grassy shorelines. A full circle around the lagoon itself will likely take you most of your fishing day. The western end also opens up into Lake Ameda, and offers endless areas to explore and fish in the kayak.
A favorite method for fall and winter fishing in Hopedale Lagoon is drifting. Trout will readily take a plastic bait tight-lined or under a popping cork. Kayaks are easy to maneuver, and make a perfect platform to silently drift the area. Although the bites are not usually hot and heavy, repeating a successful drift will quickly add up to a mess of fish.
Almost directly across from Breton Sound Marina is the spoil canal. A short paddle puts you into an area of marsh complete with deep cuts and shallow, oyster-filled lagoons. Trout and reds are found throughout the area, and really stack up in the deeper areas on colder days.
A big benefit to kayakers is that the area is well protected on windy days, and there are always some spots that can be comfortably and safely fished. Don’t overlook the spoil canal itself; it can offer great fishing.
The MRGO ship channel was dammed with rocks several years ago. Reaching the “Dam” by kayak is relatively easy. It’s about a one-mile paddle from Breton Sound Marina. The MRGO is a unique area, and offers deep-water fishing opportunities that most Louisiana kayak anglers are not used to.
The center of the channel is nearly 45 feet deep, and offers great fishing habitat when colder temperatures send the fish into deeper water.
While usually productive, the Dam has also proven to be somewhat fickle. Feast or famine can easily be the results of a trip there. Fishing two days in a row with seemingly exact conditions can produce widely varying results. Dam regulars are still trying to figure out patterns that can be followed for repeated success.
Although the Dam appears to be a solid wall, the spaces in the irregular-shaped rocks allow for a substantial flow of water through the Dam. Fishing the area on a moving tide will generally provide better action.
On the good days, kayakers can load up on limits of trout as well as do battle with some bruiser bull reds and huge black drum. Throw in a few sheepshead and flounder, and you have the makings of an epic ‘yak trip. A day at the Dam can easily allow a kayaker to catch the most, as well as the largest, fish they ever have.
A trick to fishing the Dam (and to saving tons of tackle) is to use a sliding cork to get your bait near, but not on, the bottom. The base of the Dam is much broader than just the rock wall that protrudes above the surface. Fishing directly on the bottom will result in countless irretrievable snags.
Educated Dam kayakers have also come to use bricks or concrete blocks as anchors since they will not readily hang up on the rocky bottom. Seventy-five to 100 feet of anchor rope is necessary to hold position if fishing the deeper parts of the channel.
Instead of turning toward the Dam, another good option is to head up the MRGO to Lena Lagoon. You can fish your way there along the rocks on the north bank of the MRGO. When the rocks open up, you can enter Lena Lagoon and the surrounding marsh.
Oyster reefs and small lagoons abound throughout the area. Excellent sight fishing for redfish can be found along the shallow, clear banks. Like Hopedale Lagoon, Lena also provides a great expanse of water to set up a successful trout drift.
The biggest concern for kayakers in the entire Hopedale area is safety. All of the areas you will be fishing are shared with powerboats. You will encounter many recreational fishing boats as well as larger commercial fishing boats.
While most are courteous and respectful of ‘yakers, it is a good idea to wear your PFD and bright clothing. Make sure you have a whistle or other sound-making device to alert a boater that may not see you. If operating in low-light conditions, a bright white light that is visible in all directions is required by law.
Hopedale offers virtually unlimited fishing areas that are easily accessed by kayakers. Pack your ‘yak and head down to “Da Parish” for some of the best fall and winter fishing you can find.
6404 Hopedale Hwy
(Marina is closed, but $5 launch fee is paid at honor box near ramp.)
Breton Sound Marina
7600 Hopedale Hwy
$5 kayak launch fee