OUTDOOR CORNER: A long crawfish season may be in store

Lyle Johnson
Doug Adams, left, along with Jeff Audas, with two fine red snapper caught out of Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River in the Gulf.

Well, the river has finally crested and is on the way down; mind you, it’s going to take quite a while to get back to normal levels.

The Atchafalaya Basin will probably take the longest time to drain but that should afford us quite a prolonged crawfish season.

July and August are months not normally known for eating boiled crawfish, although I’m pretty sure us Cajuns won’t have a hard time adapting. If that happens, this would be a great time to put some “tails” in the freezer as the price might get low enough to buy a couple of sacks and stash them for the winter.

The popular method of accomplishing this task is to scald the mudbugs in boiling water to semi-cook them. Then comes the time to peel 80 or 90#’s (two sacks) of crawfish! My fingers are hurting now, just thinking about it. We used to do this a lot as we fished about 50 traps near Belle River and this became a lot more work than fun.

Then came along Bob Legendre, from Chackbay and turned me on to an old-time process that was much easier and kept the tail meat fresher. After breaking the tails, stop there and leave the shell intact. This cuts your initial time about 65%, not to mention sparing your fingers much pain and a few cuts.

Rinse the tails and freeze the tasty morsels in water, using a quart or gallon size, zip-type freezer bag. This takes a little more space in the freezer but keeps the quality of the tail meat nearly perfect for a long time. Best of all, your fingers only gets small amounts of pain at a time.

Bayou Dularge and the Lake Decade area has been a pretty productive area for us this year and a trip down to Falgoust Marina was in order last Friday. Bass fishing has been really good, but we were looking to add some redfish to the mix as well.

Captain Ryan Young of Avid Angler Fishing Charters is a good friend that is running charters on Friday thru Sunday and he stays on the fish. We gave him a call to see if some redfish might be found in the marsh close enough for us to spend a little time fishing for the coveted bronze backs.

“Yeah, man, we’ve been fishing specks in the morning on the outside and catching redfish in the marsh a little later,” stated Young. They’ve been hitting spinner baits and spoons in the grass in the big ponds and smaller lakes. You shouldn’t have a hard time finding them at all.”

Armed with this tidbit of information, we headed down Dularge Rd to Falgoust Canal and launched the boat with somewhat high expectations about our chances to catch a few redfish and bass. After crossing Lake Decade, we made a right turn into a large pond and found what we were looking for.

The water depth was two to three feet and the clarity was just right; not too clear but not too stained. Just like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  Coontail grass was plentiful, but not too thick to work just about any bait. I selected a lunker lure and started casting while Wesley opted for a spinner bait.

One encouraging thing was the fish action we were seeing. Small mullets that something was chasing and wakes all over increased our anticipation. Then it happened. A scrappy three pound redfish hammered my lunker lure and the ice was broken. A few minutes later, the Ribbit Frog Wesley was chunking got clobbered by another redfish. It was on after that!

As the sun came up we both switched back to spinner baits, he with a Hum Dinger and I used a Stanley Compact in the Golden Bream color. The action continued at a decent pace and two hours into the trip we boated our tenth redfish along with five bass and headed out to find another area.

Although the tide was on the rise, we eventually located a spot where all that high water from the Morganza Spillway and Atchafalaya Basin was pushing through a canal. It afforded lots of bait and current breaks where the bass could stage and ambush the small crabs, perch and shrimp swam by.

We used an assortment of plastic baits (mostly Zoom Brush Hogs) and a square-billed crank bait to catch and release over sixty bass. A big ole 4 pound blue catfish hammered a watermelon/red Rage Tail Craw to add to our take home catch of redfish and we headed home with some great memories.

Red snapper season is in full swing. It is red hot and folks are catching them everywhere. Although the size limit is 16”, most anglers are not keeping anything under 26”. Scuba divers can’t find any of the other species because the snapper are so thick. Not a bad problem to have.

Just to give out a heads up the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Division (LDWF/LED) agents will take part in Operation Dry Water from June 24-26 with increased patrols for operating or driving a boat while intoxicated (DWI) enforcement and boating safety.

The river is getting really crowded as usual in the summer months and we need to be as safe as we can out on the water!

Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. So until next time have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God bless you.

One of the bronze backs (redfish) that hammered the Ribbit frog fished in coontail grass.