Bream probably will spawn later than usual this year at Henderson Lake, which means June should be a good month to deposit plenty of tasty panfish in the ice chest.
That’s the way Laurette Mequet of Cecilia sees the late spring and early summer shaping up at the lake in St. Martin Parish. Like dozens of other Acadiana residents and visitors who love to tap the lake’s bream population, Mequet can’t wait.
But why the somewhat late start this year? The water has been high — really high — and muddy for most of the spring, rising to 17 feet mostly because of heavy rains above Henderson Lake.
How high is that? At normal pool, it’s at 9 or 10 feet.
In early May, Mequet said, “Our water’s getting pretty and starting to fall (albeit slowly). It should be pretty good before June.”
The good news during the recent high-water period is that many sac-a-lait were able “to spawn in peace, way back in the woods,” as were the lake’s bass, Mequet said. Bream, which spawn later than those species, “will be getting their spawn on” in late May and June.
Mequet pointed anglers to several traditional bream fishing hotspots this time of year at Henderson Lake, including the Butte La Rose Canal, Amoco Canal, The Boulevard in front of the private boat landings along the West Atchafalaya Basin Protection Levee and Phillips Canal. The latter is one of the most notorious for giving up beaucoups bream in the spring.
Bream get up on the mounds under the willow trees to spawn.
“There are a lot of mounds. It’s a good place to go. If someone’s there (fishing on one mound), you can move over (to another mound),” Mequet said.
She advised bream fishermen to target those mounds next to the willows and fish 1 ½-feet to 2 feet deep with crickets or worms. The veteran angler prefers a small “slim” cork and prefers a red/green model that is available at the boat landing’s bait shop.
Worms also catch chinquapin, which spawn a little later than bream and typically are deeper, usually on the bottom. Nine out of 10 times, if you catch a chinquapin, there are more there.
For those who prefer artificials, you can fish for bream with tube jigs or hair jigs weighing 1/48-ounce. Mequet advised to tip them with a piece of worm. The most popular colors are blue/chartreuse, black/chartreuse, red/black/chartreuse and red/blue/chartreuse.
An average bream catch would be 30 — enough to clean at one time — but she said numbers do get higher than that if fish cooperate.
For those who want to add sac-a-lait to their catch, Mequet pointed them to George Dupuis Pit and Kern’s Pit. Fish with red/blue/chartreuse, red/olive/chartreuse or black/chartreuse tube and hair jigs in 3-foot depths approximately 5 feet from the shoreline.