Paddling Anglers

(i.e. Canoe, kayak, or whatever suits your fancy)

Contents:  Reasons for Paddle Fishing; What type of gear you will need; Where to buy; and a List of the Top Spots

The Reasons:

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For those of us who prefer the reliability and sound of human power over outboard motors, this page is for you.  It is a top ten list of the best places within southeast Louisiana to fish from your canoe or sea-kayak.   The rankings are not in any special order, and this is only meant to be a general guide for beginners.   If you have additional information about any of these locations, I would greatly appreciate your input.   

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Without exception the most common question I get from other anglers is why would anyone want to fish from a canoe.  My answer (the long version) is always the same.   "Over the past ten years I have owned at least three different power boats, and during that same ten years, if I had set aside the same dollars in retirement funds that I placed in those boats  I would be retiring a minimum of thirty years earlier.  Each fish I caught from these fine machines had a net book value per pound higher than that of the finest filet mignon in the most expensive restaurant.  Truth be told I could have purchased cheaper caviar."

This is not say that I didn't enjoy my boats.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  But without question, I didn't enjoy the expense or the maintenance headaches. 

However, since purchasing my canoe and sea kayak, I have finally beaten the system --cheap to operate, easy to clean up, and absolutely just as much fun as anything bigger.   If you buy one, you will never look back.

 

 

 

Gear -- "Just the Basics"

Boat -- Anything that floats and is somewhat stable.  I prefer my canoe to anything on the market, but I have some serious limitations -- no open water.  The best all around boats are the sit on top kayaks.  There are lots of models, but for this area unless you are going great distances or  in serious open water, shorter is better.   Think light weight in whatever you buy.  If it weighs a ton, trust me you will not use it. 

Paddles -- Spend money here!!!!  The more you spend here the happier you will be.  My boat is so old and in such bad shape, people laugh at me at the launch.  But because I use excellent quality kayak blades,  I quickly pass canoe.jpg (17594 bytes)them.  My arms last all day, while theirs give out an hour after sun rise.   Never use a single blade paddle no matter what kind of boat you own

If you are lucky, you just will not go anywhere because they are two slow for Louisiana waters.  If you are unlucky, you can be pinned by the wind against a bank or even blown out into the middle of open water.  Also, buy a paddle leash.   Loosing a paddle could cost your life.  (I even bring a spare set.  Saved my life while fishing in Lake Ponchartrain.)

Anchor -- Always bring two.   With a single anchor, strong winds will tend to spin you in circles.  Weight isn't an issue here, but the best anchors will dig into the mud.

Lifejacket -- Always wear it, no matter where you are!!!!  Paddle fishing is fun, but there is more risk here than in a bigger boat.  Running over a stump can flip you when you least expect it.   And worst yet, power boats just do not see you at high speeds.  Try to buy a life vest with large arm holes.  Life jackets that fit tight around the arm, will rub you raw. 

Everything else is just extras.   Fight temptation and keep the gear simple.  When you add depth finders, motors, etc., you add weight, trouble, and expense. 

 

 

Places to Buy Gear

For paddlers in New Orleans, it is hard to beat the two Split bamboo stores in town for both boats and advice.  They have a great selection of sit on top boats and a tremendous selection of fly fishing equipment.  Their staff is extremely knowledgeable.  These people really know how to fish from a paddle craft!  You can reach the Sporting Life at 504-529-3597 or email them at bcarter@splitbamboo.com

 

If you are looking for a canoe or cockpit style kayak another great place is Adventure Sport's in Metairie.  They have a great selection of both boats and paddles.   They have just started carrying a new line of Harmony kayak paddles that are some of the best on the market for the lowest price ($100.00) I have ever seen. The staff is extremely knowledgeable of paddling opportunities in the area.  Ask for Joey when you go in and tell them I sent you.  Their phone number is 504-835-1932. 

 

For the paddling crabber, the only place to buy nets is from Adams Fruit Market in Lockport, Louisiana.  It is a forty minute  ride from New Orleans, but it is well worth the trip.  He has perfected crabbing to an art form.   Don't be fooled by the cheap crab nets on the market.  A good crab net is something that is pasted from one generation to the next.  It isn't something you use for a season. Their phone number is 504-532-3165.

 

crabnet.jpg (22034 bytes)   A Good Crab Net has two rings and is made from plastic netting.  Don't buy nylon or cotton -- you will regret it later!

 

 

 

Best Paddle Boat Fishing Spots in the New Orleans Area

 

  • Hwy 1 -- South of Leeville to Grand Isle -- Probably the best place to fish salt water.  No matter where you put in you are bound to find redfish.  The key here is to look for the cuts that feed the water between the land masses.  Fish on a falling tide and use live bait if you are a beginner.   Cacahoes fished on bottom are a sure fish catcher.  Where the grass is thick be sure to fish under a cork. 

HINT!!!!!!  PADDLE SLOW AND QUIET.  I HAVE NEVER FISHED ANY OTHER PLACE WHERE THE REDS ARE SO SPOOKY!!!   I DON'T EVEN TALK WHEN I FISH FOR FEAR OF SPOOKING MY PREY.  USE ANCHORS CAREFULLY!!!

 

 

fish w pole.jpg (10252 bytes) Another limit caught off Hwy 1

 

 

  • Myrtle Grove --   Best wintertime place to fish in the State -- Located South of Bellchase off Hwy 23 on west side of road.  Costs $5.00 to launch.    Fish this area when it is so cold you don't want to go.   The rule here is the windier, the wetter, the colder, the better.  If it is above 32 degrees forget it.     For summer time fishing, paddle away from the launch and into marsh.   It may take a little paddling here but the reward is in the catch. 

 

  redfish2.jpg (18562 bytes)  A wintertime Winner at Myrtle Grove

 

 

  • Bonnie Carrie Spillway  -- Located west of New Orleans off Hwy 61 --  Scattered throughout the entire spill way are a series of ponds.   I have never fished these areas personally, but in the spring there is supposed to be guaranteed crappie/sac-a-lait catches.  Bass and catfish are also supposed to be plentiful.  If you like fly fishing this is the place.   For crappie fish blue and white jigs under cork about three feet deep.  For those who enjoy crabbing from their canoe go to where the Spillway meets the lake and crab away.  The commercial guys stay out of this area, and the crabs are bountiful. 

 

 crab net.jpg (17132 bytes)

 

  • Des Allmands Bayou -- Located west of New Orleans, off Hwy 90 --  This is a great place to fish.  Incredible variety -- catfish, bass, crappie, and perch.  This is not an easy place to fish without grass shrimp.   Bring a fine mesh net and go along the bank next to grass patches and scoop up the shrimp.  Tip everything you fish with them, and with a little luck you will have lots fried fish.

 

  • Lake Ponchartrain  --  One of Louisiana's best kept secrets -- From the Twin Spans to the Causeway, Lake Ponchartrain offers all types of fishing from Tarpon in the fall to big Speckle Trout harvests in the spring.  The best spot to fish for paddlers is the west shore next to the Hwy 11 bridge and the twin spans.   Use spoons or other artificial baits to work the shore line back toward Bayou Sauvage.  Then, after a morning of running the shore, if you are in a sea worthy boat, paddle out to the twin spans and slowly troll along with Miro-Lures.   This is one of the best speckle trout areas in the state. 
    • Hint:  Paddle close to the Hwy 10 Bridge and cast a Deadly Dudley or H&H plastic cacahoes against a bridge support and let it fall to the bottom.  In the spring and fall this is almost a guaranteed to catch a monster specks.

     

  • Lafitte -- UNDER CONSTRUCTION --- A great place to fish, but a nightmare of boat traffic.  I have just finished fishing Lafitte for the first time.  There seems to be big fish everywhere, although my luck was not quite as good as I had hoped.  I will report more later. 

 

  • Tchfunte River -- Located next to Madisonville, Louisiana.  This river is one of the most picturesque places in Louisiana.  Please watch for the boat traffic here.   On a Sunday afternoon, it will feel as though you will never get a moment's peace.   The fishing up river is all fresh water.  Sac-a-lait, catfish and bass abound.   The good news is the further up river you go the better the fishing and the less the boat traffic.  About five miles north of Madisonville, the river is extremely narrow.  I have been told that this a great place for brown bass.   Anyone who fishes this area please give me a report.   Also, the mouth of  the Tchfunte is a great spot for catching red fish, speckle trout, flounder, and white trout.   As always live bait works best, but use what you like.