Outdoor Corner: On the Road Again

Lyle Johnson
Goosie with our haul of fresh Louisiana blue crabs caught in Reggio, La.

On the road again, I just can’t wait to get on the road again . . . I can hear the melody as I sing the popular song by Willie Nelson in my head typing at my computer. Except this road trip is not about making music. It’s about driving down to Reggio, La. in search of Louisiana blue crabs.

I’m driving by myself on a Tuesday morning listening to K-Love radio while thinking about the eight people back at home that are anticipating a crab boil when the trip is over. My daughters, Kaycee and Gabby are home with their families for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Along with my anticipation of a great day is a bit of trepidation as the pressure is on because my daughters live away, one in Pensacola and the other in Breckenridge, therefore I must produce enough crabs for five adults and four grandkids.

The plan is to meet with my father and brother-in-law on the Delacroix road and team up to film for Ascension Outdoors TV as well as harvest some of the incredible bounty that southern Louisiana has to offer.

Now this is a trip that is easily made from anywhere in Ascension parish. Fall through early winter is the prime time to catch these crabs. One of the best things is that you don’t need a boat. They can easily be caught off the side of the road with a little planning.

Chicken necks (not turkey necks) are a great bait and is easily obtained at some of our local grocery stores; fresh or frozen will do. Cut them in 3" pieces so your bait will stretch longer; no need to use the whole neck at once.

Lots of folks use string lines but we have discovered a much better way that makes things much easier. A rod and reel is the best way to catch crabs in this situation. A weight of 1/4 oz or larger to cast out and get the bait to the bottom will do. Either a hook to attach the bait or just tie it on the string works well.

Two rods per person will be enough as sometimes it might be hard to keep up with two. The reason a rod and reel works better than string is you can get the crab up off the bottom quickly and can be consistently reeled in slowly so they don't let go as much. Works like a charm.

A long-handled net (6' to 8') is needed to dip the crabs before they get to the bank. The mesh needs to be 1" so the crabs don't get tangled up. A small mesh net will do the job but you will spend more time trying to get the crabs out of the net than you are fishing for them. This is very frustrating. I know from experience.

After dipping the crabs have an ice chest nearby to deposit them in. A bag of ice (unopened) will keep them plenty cool. When the trip is finished, pour the ice on top of the crabs to get them cold. The crabs won’t let go of their paws when boiling them if they are cold.

The trip there is around 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hrs from Gonzales, and the route goes through New Orleans so you have to plan your trip accordingly. During the week getting through NOLA before 7 a.m. is advisable and 3 p.m. for the return trip. On the weekends just be careful of sporting activities at the Superdome.

On your smartphone type in Reggio, La., and it will get you right on the spot. The old time directions would be to take I-10 east to 1-610 then connect with I-10 to I-510 at the Chalmette exit. Turn left at Judge Perez then another left on LA 46 to the stop sign. Continue straight on LA 300. When you pass Reggio Marina on your left there are many places to stop on the right side of the road to pull off to crab or fish as well.

I caught up with Goosie and Sonny about a mile from our crabbing spot. We pulled over, exchanged greetings and made our way to the waters edge. They had chicken necks for bait but I brought a few catfish heads from a few I’d cleaned the day before that were caught off my pier.

I baited my first line and threw it out. Before the second rod was ready, there was a crab already tugging on my first line. A short time later, a very healthy male blue crab was put in my ice chest and it was on.

We spread out along the bank, and I ended up in the middle with Goosie on my right and Sonny on my left. I was in front of a canal coming out of the marsh. Goosie was upstream, and Sonny was down stream. Goosie and I were catching larger crabs but Sonny was hauling in crabs one after another, they were just a little smaller.

We had a very successful trip as Goosie and Sonny left after three hours with 54 crabs and I left a little later with 39. This trip is easily done and good for the kids as well.

I was on my pier yesterday (Sunday afternoon) thinking about the trip when I realized something I thought to be quite unique about our outdoor bounty here. I caught some shad in my cast net that allowed me to catch a few catfish to eat. The heads from those catfish were used to catch some crabs which we enjoyed very much.

Moreover, the crab shells were deposited in the Diversion on the pier and a couple of hours later I was able to catch some really nice bream that were eating the crab leftovers. Food for thought? Pun intended.

Until next time remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard, be safe in the outdoors and may God truly bless you!

Lyle Johnson is a free-lance writer, co-host of Ascension Outdoors TV and Curator of the Louisiana State Fish Records. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net

Outdoor Calendar

EASL Monthly Meeting: 3rd Monday every month, East Ascension Sportsman’s League meeting held at Chef KD’s on Hwy 74 starting at 7 p.m. A meal served and special speaker will be in attendance.

APSO Shooting Range: The rifle range on St. Landry Road is open to the public year-round on the second and fourth Thursday of each month from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., or safe shooting light.

Squirrel season: Through Feb 28 daily bag limit 8 possession 24.

Rabbit season: Through Feb 28 daily bag limit 8 possession 24.

Quail season: Through Feb. 28, statewide, private lands only. Daily bag limit 10 possession 30.

BCKFC Championship Tournament: Dec. 8, Location TBA. Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club event. Anglers qualified through BCKFC Angler-of-the-Year points. Website: bckfc.org.

Need an event publicized? Contact Lyle at reelman@eatel.net