Sunday, July 09, 2006

Fishing Pontchartrain Under the Bridge

Wanna do some fishing this weekend? Wanna catch a bunch of fish? But you don't wanna fish in the sun? Well, you solve that dilemma by launching into Lake Pontchartrain, heading over toward the Twin Spans on the South side, and anchoring under the bridge. That's the precise spot where you'll begin pulling in all kinds of fish--trout, reds, flounder, sheepshead, drum, croakers, and lots more (just like my fishing team and I did on Thursday).

But you know the trick to mastering such a magnificent catch? Live shrimp! Some might say you can use plastics. But I’m telling you first hand you gotta have live shrimp!

“I mean y’all saw the difference it made for us this morning,” Capt. Kenny Kreeger reiterated to the league of anglers who had gathered at the backdown ramp at Rigolets Marina. “Like when we first got to the south side of the Twin Spans, we used market shrimp. It’s all we could get! Oh, it was fresh as could be, but it was still market bait nonetheless. And if you noticed, we weren’t even getting a nibble!

“Yet, a couple of you guys anchored next to us were smokin’ them. And the only difference in what you were doing and what I was doing was ‘live shrimp.’”

Well, to make a long story short, Kenny and I and my cameraman Willie Wilson made a snap decision just seconds after watching the guys in the adjacent boat pull in trout after trout—yep! on live shrimp! The decision was make the 25 minute run to Chef Menteur to Chef Harbor Marina and get some live shrimp.

The entire picture changed under the bridge when we began throwing live shrimp on a Carolina rig…and catching beau coup fish as a result of it.

“See all the different species, Frank,” Kreeger pointed out. “That just goes to show you that with the right bait you can catch—in one spot—speckled trout, white trout, redfish, sheepshead, drum, flounder, croaker, gafftop, and, yes, even those pesky little hardheads. It was like they all had a craving for live shrimp.”

I feel that I should explain to all you “plastic devotees” why such emphasis on live bait. It’s not because live bait is an end-all guarantee for catching fish. It’s indicative, though, how important it is to have all your bases covered when you pull away from the dock. To do it right, you need your favorite plastics, a couple of pounds of fresh market bait, a bucket of live shrimp, maybe a livewell full of live Cocahoes, and maybe even a cast net on hand to collect your own shiners or pogies or baby mullets should the opportunity present itself.

“It’s like I say all the time,” Kreeger jumped in, “you gotta give ‘em what they want! And if you want to play it stupid and stubborn and stand rock solid on “they’ll take what I give them” attitude, you just might have to stop off at the fried chicken joint on the way home, if you know what I mean!”

So where has all the activity been in the lake for the past couple of weeks? Here’s the list:

--The Twin Spans on the south side;
--Between the eastbound and westbound roadbed on the bridges.
--The cross-over between the two bridges at mid-lake.
--The trestle on the south side at about the third firebreak.
--The area at South Shore that’s been staked with PVC pipe just off the point.

Focus on fishing these areas first. Then move around and scout out a few spots of your own.
Fish very very early in the morning, preferably right at sun-up. The fish seem to be more hungry at that time and it’s the optimum “cool time” of day for you and your fishing buddies.
And understand that what bites, when it bites, and how ferocious the bites are depend heavily on the tidal range. Ideally, 8/10’s of a foot is what you want; under 5/10’s is considered poor and over 1.8 feet is way too strong. In a nutshell just make sure you fish when the tide is moving and not slack. And if it’s slack when you get out there, you’ll just have to wait it out until it starts up again.

So till next week, be courteous and be safe out there!

Frank Davis - Frank's Website


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