In late March, a rare weather window opened where camping in Louisiana was actually comfortable, so my wife and I decided to finally break out some camping gear we got as wedding presents over two years ago. The lows were in the 60s and the highs in the upper 70s, so sleeping at night was comfortable and the water was warm enough for fish to be active. We packed up the camping gear and a kayak and headed about two hours northwest to the Indian Creek Recreation Area in Woodworth, Louisiana. This is an area run by the Louisiana Dept. of Agriculture and features a large reservoir and tons of campsites, both primitive and RV hook ups. The primitive campsites were nice and secluded, and almost all of them that we saw were right on the water. The only negative was that the whole area isn’t all that far from Interstate 49, so you could hear some road noise at night.
The water in the reservoir is very clear, due to there being alot of submerged vegetation. These conditions are prime habitat for Chain Pickerel. I started off by blind casting an articulated Baby Gonga streamer to the line where the thick grass dropped off into deeper water, but got no strikes. Moving further back into the shallows of the coves the grass was about 6 inches below the water’s surface with little holes here and there. It wasn’t until I paddled pretty far back into the coves before I started seeing signs of fish. The first fish I saw was a huge grass carp slowly milling about, I followed him a bit before I got too close and he spooked, but I saw three more not far away. I tied on a small olive streamer and tried to cast at them but I landed it a bit too close and they spooked. I saw one good size largemouth bass swimming around, but he was probably staging to spawn judging by the erratic behavior he was exhibiting. Once I got really far back into the cove, I noticed a long brown shape spook from right by my kayak into one of the holes in the grass. Judging by its speed and hiding skill, it pretty much disappeared, I figured it had to be a pickerel. As I was drifting away I flipped my streamer down into his hiding spot and let it sink straight down, sure enough he came out and grabbed it. This is definitely my personal best pickerel, and it was cool to sight fish it that way.
Once I figured out I could sight fish way back in the shallows, I concentrated more on those areas. Over that afternoon and the next day I saw several spotted gar, a few largemouth, one laid up pickerel, and a few more small pickerel in ambush positions. I had one of the gar attack the streamer, but couldn’t get a hook up, and spooked the largest one I saw with a cast right on his head. The bass all saw me way before I saw them, and I never really had a chance. The other pickerel were pretty small but I had a few follows, but no takes. I’m not sure why I didn’t have more luck blind casting in the deeper grass, but the water was a bit chilly, so maybe they just weren’t that active unless something dropped right on their nose. Standing up and paddling in the clear water and hovering over the underwater grass was a blast though, I’ll take any opportunity to fish in clear water, as it can be hard to come by in Louisiana.
With the camp site being right on the water I couldn’t resist throwing a damselfly nymph on the 3 weight to see what panfish might be near shore. After lighting the campfire and making some preparations for cooking dinner I was able catch a few bluegill the first night, and then more bluegill, a redspotted sunfish, and some dollar sunfish the second night. The dollar sunfish were a pleasant surprise, and very pretty ones too. I wasn’t planning on doing any microfishing but when I was stripping the damsel streamer near the rocks right at the bank I saw some smaller fish come from under the rocks to try and ambush the fly. I could tell they looked a different color, so I decided to try a size 20 Rainbow Warrior nymph and find out what they were.