OUTDOOR CORNER: Louisiana fishing opportunites limitless with rivers, marshes

Lyle Johnson
Alan Johnson and Donnie Courtney pictured with four speckled trout that fell victim to the V&M Marsh Minnow.

I had what I thought was a great idea the other day. My wife, Deborah was on a well deserved vacation to Gulf Shores with a few of her lady friends. That left me home alone as I’d scheduled vacation time as well.

The Mississippi River is high and I noticed a couple of trucks on the levee and thought surely the catfish are biting. I called my brother Alan and quickly organized a trip to the mighty Mississippi.

I’ve fished on the levee when the water was high and the fish were biting but I’ve yet to catch one.

Loaded with good bait – fresh shad caught in a cast net and some night crawlers – it was on. We pulled up to Alan and my dad’s favorite spot where they’d caught fish for years and really thought my jinx for catching catfish while the river is high was soon coming to an end!

We arrived at the destination around 9:30 a.m. and the water looked perfect; high, muddy and just the right amount of current. I rigged my pole with a three ounce sinker and two Daiichi bleeding bait hooks and even gave the fish a variety to choose from; shad on the bottom hook and a night crawler on the top.

Well, after about an hour Alan finally caught one. A couple of other groups of people with the same idea stopped and fished for a while, but didn’t stay long because the fish didn’t seem to be biting. We also had to listen to a couple of other (this is what I caught them on the other day) people.

After three hours and Alan catching one other fish we decided to pack it in and come back in the afternoon and fish until dark. We picked up my nephew Taylor and got back at 4:45 p.m. to fish until dark. Things sort of picked up where we left off; the fish not biting so well.

The final result was a total of five catfish for the whole day (Alan 3, Taylor 2 and me 0). So my streak for catching catfish on the levee while the water is high stays intact, I’ve yet to catch one.

But there was still one more opportunity for redemption. Donnie Courtney and I had planned a speckled trout fishing trip back a month ago but it got blown out. We rescheduled for Wednesday afternoon. Man was I looking forward to getting rid of the skunk smell on me.

Alan and I met Courtney at his camp in Belle River around noon and off to Bayou Dularge Marina we went. Our spot of choice was a place named “The Pickets”. It’s a spot about 20 miles from the launch in the Gulf just outside the marsh. Donnie’s neighbor saw us on the road and called to tell us he had caught his limit of trout—guess where. the Pickets.

If you’re wondering how the place got its name, the best I can figure is from a distance it looks a little like a picket fence. There are sets of really big pilings in an area that’s about an acre that looks like it used to be something although I’ve not gotten it quite figured out.

No matter what it is, I’m glad it is there. It’s a bait magnet so guess what; the fish gather ‘round to eat. The water depth is around eight feet so we tied on 3/8 ounce jig heads and on the business end was a glow with chartreuse tail V&M three inch marsh minnow.

These baits are a “cocahoe” type plastic but what makes them unique is a couple of slits just at the end of the body that makes the tail really vibrate. It didn’t take long before I found out that these baits were something special. On my second cast a 22-inch speckled trout just inhaled my bait and that set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.

This whole area is a great place for spring and summer speckled trout fishing as there is lots of small rigs as well as the larger ones and all of them have shell beds that really attract the trout. Last Island is only about a five mile ride so there’s no lack of spots to try.

We didn’t have to try many of them as we fished about an hour and a half at the Pickets and the rest of the time at a nearby rig. We called it quits at 6:30 a.m. so we could get on the road before dark and our boxes had a total of 71 really nice trout, all of them caught on the plastic V&M marsh minnows.

Special thanks goes out to Donnie Courtney and Skeeter boats for a great day and a very comfortable ride on the ZX22V bay boat equipped with a 250 Yamaha four stroke. Thumbs up to David Petty and V&M baits for developing a really great plastic lure, and you can log on to and check out all their tackle.

You can see all the action on an upcoming episode of Ascension Outdoors, seen exclusively on Eatel FiberEdge channel 4. 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 truly bless you.

A ship passes in the river as we sit on the bank trying our fortune catching catfish.