Outdoor Corner: The return of the rainbows
It's the time of year for the rainbow trout to be introduced into the big pond at Lamar Dixon. If everything goes right, the scrappy fish will be stocked this week. But before we talk about this year's story, let's go back in time to how this all got started. I'd been introduced to rainbow trout angling when my daughter, Kaycee and her husband were stationed on Eielson AFB in Fairbanks, Alaska.
But my partner on Ascension Outdoors TV Show, Goosie Guice had never caught one. So, he put catching one of the beautiful species of fish on his bucket list. He'd heard the BREC parks stocked them every winter, so we headed out one Saturday afternoon years ago in search of the rainbow colored trout at a couple of the ponds.
We left armed with every bait that someone might have told us they caught them on before. Small, in-line spinners work well at times but canned corn, night crawlers, marshmallows, and crickets were added to our tackle supply.
Our first stop was Forest Community Park off South Flannery Road. A few anglers were already there fishing. We thought our chances might be pretty good. The pond is a little small, so finding them shouldn't have been a problem.
After a few moments of casting a spinner and Goosie putting out a rod with a marshmallow and one sporting a cricket, a gentleman headed over our way to pick up his rod and head home.
We struck up a conversation with him to get as much info as we could to help our chances. He had caught three (the limit is four) so our first question was, "What did you catch them on?" Marshmallows was his answer, and our hopes got really high until he told us he was using pink and we only had white.
About 10 minutes later another angler on the pier caught one that looked to be about 11" long, so we knew they were there and decided to stay a little longer. After an hour and only three bluegills to show for our efforts, we decided to head to North Sherwood Forest Community Park as the first gentleman told us he'd caught 20 there the Tuesday before.
We packed our gear for the short walk and ran into a gentleman that had lots of experience catching the rainbows over the years. The only problem is that he hadn't had a bite in the 45 minutes he'd been there.
He willingly shared all the tips for catching the rainbows, so our educational process was growing by leaps and bounds. Armed with all this knowledge and about two hours of fishing time to take advantage of, our enthusiasm picked up a little.
The action in the water was quite high in this pond as well. Trout were swirling on top like they were feeding, and I saw several clear the water in a leap. So I saw them with my own eyes.
We had a few nibbles on corn and even the night crawlers. But the only bait we used lots of was the marshmallows. Goosie was feeding on them as we waited for some fish action. To add insult to injury, late in the day a guy showed up to try his luck.
His fishing skills left lots to be desired. But as fate would have it, I watched him set the hook on a fish about 10 minutes after he started. His tackle wasn't much better as he spent at least two minutes trying to get the reel to wind in his catch. He finally chunked the rod to the ground and hand-lined in a nice rainbow trout.
So after a big flop on our first attempt at catching a rainbow trout around home, we came up with a pretty good idea. "Why can't we just get them stocked somewhere in Ascension Parish?" So we approached then Parish President Tommy Martinez about the possibility of that happening here. He directed us to our councilman at the time, Chris Loar. And the rest is history.
The first year of the stocking program netted the bank anglers 500 rainbow trout stocked at Lamar Dixon. They are purchased from a fish hatchery in Missouri and trucked to wherever they are purchased. A hose is connected on the truck and placed in the pond. A valve is opened causing the water and trout from the holding tank into the water.
Stocking always takes place in the winter as rainbow trout are cold-water fish. The water temperature has to get in the low 50's before they are shipped and stocked. The fish last until spring until the water heats up above 70 degrees. At that time their chance of survival becomes very slim.
Rainbow trout are pretty aggressive feeders and not terribly hard to catch. But they are fish and don't bite sometimes as good as others. Artificial baits work well sometime and is my preferred method. Small spinners work well but a variety of small bass lures such as a rattle trap are effective.
Bait on a hook is the most productive, being the preferred method of most folks and easiest for a kid to use. A sinker heavy enough to cast out with a small hook is pretty much all you need to catch them. Tight lining is the easiest way.
Bait selection is pretty unusual. Marshmallows (mini) work extremely well. That's right! Marshmallows, especially pink, but white and green will work as well. Canned corn and night crawlers will work pretty good as well. They will probably eat just about anything with smell.
The most popular is the manufactured baits available at just about any tackle store. Berkley produces Power Bait and Gulp in pink, orange, and chartreuse colors that are in different shapes, even corn. Salmon eggs that are pink or orange are effective as well.
The pond is very accessible to get around with plenty of room for bored kids to run and jump if they get a little antsy. I highly recommend a few hours of trying this out even for someone with little or no fishing experience. The folks fishing around you will be glad to give you tips if you are a little uncertain of just what to do.
Hope to see you soon out at the pond. So 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
EASL Monthly Meeting: 3rd Monday every month, East Ascension Sportsman's League meeting held at Gonzales Fire Dept on Orice Roth Rd. starting at 7:00 p.m. A meal served and special speaker will be in attendance.
Squirrel, Quail, & Rabbit Season: Through-Feb. 29, open statewide on private lands only. Daily bag limit 8 and possession limit 24.
Duck Seasons: Through Jan. 26, East Waterfowl Zone. Dec. 21-Jan. 19, Coastal Waterfowl Zone. 21-Jan. 26, West Waterfowl Zone.
Open Recreational Offshore Fishing Seasons: Red snapper weekends only, including Monday, Nov.11 (Veterans Day) until further notice; and, all groupers except closed for the take of goliath & Nassau groupers in state/federal waters.
Fishing for Tucker Bass Classic: Feb 1 held out of Doiron's Landing in Stephensville. Entry fee $100 per two angler team. $2000 first place payout based on 100 boats. All info on www.fishingfortucker.com or call Ryan Lavigne @ 225-921-9332.
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