John K. Flores: August is hot, river is down, so it's time to fish saltwater
The Atchafalaya River stage in Morgan City started off the month of August hovering around the 2.73-foot mark and expected to rise to 3.1 feet by the weekend. In short, the river is low right now.
What that means to saltwater anglers who fish south and west of the river in the coastal bays is the summer transition to saltier water is starting. The natural current flow in the Gulf of Mexico is east to west. Parts of Four League Bay, Halters Island, Atchafalaya Bay, East Cote Blanche Bay, West Cote Blanche Bay, and Vermilion Bay typically have much fresher “brackish” water than east of the river.
For example, when the Morgan City Oil Field Fishing Rodeo took place back in June when the water was high, participants opted to fish well east of the Atchafalaya River.
Essentially, brackish water ranges from 0.5 to 30 parts per thousand. Put in saltwater angler terms the more brackish the water the better the fishing these aforementioned regions get. Though this is a simplistic explanation that lacks the finesse of a biologist, you still hopefully get the idea.
Basically, it won’t be long before the reports start coming in from anglers around these parts that the red fish are biting with numerous photos being posted to various social media. Some of these saltwater anglers will have fished Little Blue Hammock, Big Blue Hammock, Mosquito Bayou, Pellegrin Cut, Locust Bayou and Halters Island down around Four League Bay.
Others will have fished the Wax where the Atchafalaya Delta WMA (Wax Delta) is starting to become a great fishery. Further west, East Cote Blanche Bay begins to really turn on in late summer and fall, where red fish can be caught along the entire coast that forms a horseshoe from Point Chevreuil to Point Marone.
In this region it’s good to check out Humble Canal, Jackson Bayou, the British American Canal, and Yellow Bayou. There’s plenty of coastline to troll and bang the banks with Rat-L-Traps (Saltwater Silver/Blue), H&H gold-color Surf Spoon and Johnson gold and silver spoons.
Of course, a dead shrimp fastened to a ¼-oz. jig head under a popping cork or bounced off the bottom probably catches more red fish each year than the vast majority of lures. Popping corks are just tried and true tackle that work.
H&H makes a terrific popping cork and when combined with a DOA plastic shrimp, it can be a deadly combination.
In West Cote Blanche Bay, saltwater fishermen and women will want to check out the coast between Cote Blanche Canal and the Ivanhoe Canal. The Ivanhoe itself can produce deep water red fish during hot summer months.
St Mary Parish’s Cypremort Point is probably the premier location in the parish to fish out of, with nearby Cypremort Point State Park offering some overnight amenities to those wanting to vacation or spend the weekend.
Besides the Trash Pile in Week’s Bay, Blue Point in Vermilion Bay, Dead Cypress Point, the Dry Reef Structure visible right off Cypremort Point, there are way too many locations to mention to fish both redfish and speckled trout in this part of the parish.
Marsh Island’s Worm Bayou, Bird Island Bayou, and Michel Cove have produced fish over the years as well. It’s a fantastic fishery starting in late summer and running on into late fall when the water isn’t influenced by fresh.
Bill Lake, owner and operator of Bayou Guide Service, fishes southeast of the Atchafalaya River from Four League Bay to many easterly points around Lake Mechant. Lake regularly posts fishing conditions and catches. This past weekend he reported great catches coming from this region just east of the river.
Lake said, “Trout fishing in Dularge around the islands has been pretty steady on calm days. The Coon Point rock jetties have been fair to good using live shrimp. The Pickets has been spotty with lots of trash fish with water temperatures heating up. There’s been lots of gaff tops, mackerel, bluefish, and banana fish caught. And the sharks are showing up big time everywhere. But, the months of August and September is redfish months for us in the deep holes using crabs on the bottom. We caught 215 reds last weekend with four boats running each day.”
Fishing deeper water for red fish can produce some nice catches during the hot month of August. I’ve fished both Old Oyster Bayou south of Four League Bay, Worm Bayou on Marsh Island, and the deep mouth of Humble Canal in approximately 28 feet of water using a 4/0 circle hook, using a 4-oz. pyramid sinker, with the rig baited with a quarter piece of crab with good results.
No doubt, August is the hottest month of the year with most folks wanting to stay in the air conditioning.
But, for those looking for a mess of red fish to put on the grill, it may be the best time of year to catch a few.