I had to work in Simmesport this past week, but knew that I’d have time to sneak away and do a little fishing at some point during each day so a kayak came with me. Having never been to this part of the state no matter what option I looked at would be a scouting trip. Nothing wrong with a good scouting trip, in fact they may be my favorite type of trip. I love the anticipation of fishing somewhere new; there is always that possibility of finding a hidden gem.
My first stop was in the Spring Bayou WMA where I found a nice public launch on the southern end of the WMA . I took a quick peek at the water before I launched and noted that the clarity wasn’t fantastic, but it wasn’t terrible either – definitely fishable. I launched and started working the cypress trees in the immediate area and soon enough I had my first bass.
It was definitely nice to get the skunk off so soon and it showed me that there were bass around. Unfortunately I didn’t catch anything the rest of my time on the water, which wasn’t such a bad thing because it was a beautiful place to paddle. I found some really big cypress trees on a slough off the main channel and sitting next to them in a 12 ft boat made you really thankful that they somehow avoided the heavy timber operations that occurred back in the day. Another plus to Spring Bayou was that it was super windy out that day, but it wasn’t a bother with the tall trees and the multiple directions one could head from the launch.
The next day I headed the other way and tried out a pond in the Richard K. Yancey WMA (Three Rivers). I was super excited after doing the clarity check at this pond. It was looking good thanks to an abundance of submerged vegetation. The sub-veg hadn’t matted yet either so it seemed like I would be hitting this pond at a great time. I launched in record time and started pounding the water with various baits. Surprisingly I wasn’t getting any hits on fly rod popper/dropper rig which is usually money this time of year. I switched over to a spinnerbait and started working just over the grass. With the clarity of the water being so excellent I was able to watch a choupique pick off my bait.
I continued working my spinnerbait, encouraged after catching the choupique, but after awhile of no action, I had to stand up to survey the water. Sightfishing I would at least be able to spook fish and see what was out there. The pond was covered in grass from one bank to the other and the fish species I saw were numerous, however they weren’t bass nor bream. I saw carp, buffalo, gar and choupique. I’m sure bass lived here, but I was convinced they didn’t live here in any great number. It was somewhat disappointing, but I really didn’t mind making lemonade out of lemons and I stood up and tried to sightfish whatever I could. Although the water clarity was excellent, sightfishing was tough. The overcast skies and windy conditions weren’t helping at all. I was able to sightfish a choupique in a shallow cove, but I never got a solid hookset in him.
Again I found a beautiful place to paddle (full of gators BTW), but the fishing proved to be tough – kind of a bittersweet experience. It was really cool to be able to sightfish a choupique, like freshwater redfishing, I only wish they were here in more numbers. The carp and buffalo I mentioned that I saw were all hanging in deep water and really didn’t lend themselves to sightfishing.
The last pond I explored was near the Old River Lock. Upon arrival the water clarity and vegetation was consistent with the last pond, however, this one had more matted veg. out in the middle. Again I started trying to target bass and bream, but that proved unfruitful. Much like the last pond standing up showed me that there was no shortage of gar. However it also showed me that this pond held more choupique and they could be sightfished. After pitching a texas rigged worm to a couple and getting eats but no solid hooksets I changed up. I decided that I was seeing enough to be able to justify tying on a redfish fly just to see if I could land one on the fly rod.
After several spooked fish (yeah, you can spook choupique) and blown shots, I finally put it all together and got a nice one to eat. She ended up being around 23 inches and 4 lbs. It was a great fight, made tougher because you had to fight it in the salad. Pretty cool to catch a new species on the fly, but even cooler that I was able to do it sightfishing. This has huge potential in my mind. A little more challenging than redfish, but not as tough as carp – this could be a great option if the weather on the coast sucks.