Searching for Sac’
For the past two weeks, photos of ice chests laden with sac-a-lait appeared in abundance across social media platforms. Some of the best reports and photos were posted by Capt. Bill Lake, owner and operator of Bayou Guide Service. Typically, you will find Capt. Bill out on a saltwater charter, but at this time of year, he leaves the reds and specks alone and takes some time to enjoy prime freshwater fishing with family and friends and his target species is the black crappie—more commonly called sac-a-lait, the Cajun French word meaning “sack of milk”. One can only speculate that this refers to the pale belly of the fish, as not much is available as to why the crappie are called sac-a-lait.
Depending on where he’s searching for these tasty treats, Capt. Bill launches either at Canon’s Landing off of Southdown Mandalay Rd. or at Bob’s Bayou Black Marina at the end of Marina Drive in Gibson. When Capt. Bill is fishing for sac-a-lait in the west Houma marshes off the Intracoastal waterways, he launches at Canon’s. This gives him easy access to well-known sac-a-lait hotspots like Orange Grove and 70 Mile Canal. To fish areas further west like the Shell Field and Bay Wallace, it’s more convenient to launch out of Bob’s Marina.
Sac-a-lait fishing is a family affair with the Lakes. Not only does he love fishing these freshwater beauties, but so do his wife, Jean; his son, Chris; and Chris’s girlfriend, Roni Allemand. No doubt, a little healthy competition takes place from time to time.
Recently Chris and Roni went on a successful trip into Orange Grove. Even though they fished in the rain, the crappie didn’t seem to mind as they boxed a nice mess of fish between the two of them. They fished with light-tackle spinning reels, and their baits of choice are blue and white or green and black tube jigs rigged about 14 inches under a small cork.
Capt. Bill waits for water temps of around 61 degrees, which he knows triggers the spawn. The spawning season may have been earlier this year because of all the warm weather we’ve experienced this winter, which caused the water temps to rise sooner. He further explains, “They bite much better on a cloudy day and during a low pressure right before an approaching front, although I’ve caught them while they were spawning on a sunny bluebird day without any problems. My buddy and I caught 68 on one trip—my best trip this year.” Just remember, though, that the daily limit is 50 fish per person.
Capt. Bill readily offers up his sac-a-lait fishing tips. “I fish the sacs with a 9 ft fly rod when jigging the stumps in the swamp and around the bases of cypress trees. When fishing the marsh, I fish with a Daiwa under spinning reel with 10 lb test.” His other tips include using a 1/16 or 1/32 ounce jig head in two colors: white or black with red eyes.
On those jig heads, he uses nothing but plastic lures, the colors of which vary according to the conditions. Of those, his favorites are the Wedgetail Crappie Minnows in salt and pepper or glow and chartreuse. Additionally, he likes the pumpkin seed colored tube jugs along with pink and chartreuse or black and chartreuse. With all those choices, how can you go wrong?
Capt. Bill has chartered trips out of Dularge for many years and was dubbed the Gu of the Du back in the early 2000s by fisherman and fans who follow his posts on Dularge.com.
While it’s almost too late this year to take a trip with the Gu of the Du for this season, hopefully you will get a chance in 2017, as this guru is looking to expand his prowess via charters into the realm of freshwater fishing for the fabulous Terrebonne Parish sac-a-lait.
He does an excellent job and knows where the fish are.
Wendy Wilson Billiot is a freelance writer, wetland educator, and owner of Beyond the Bayou Excursions. To contact, visit bayouwoman.com.