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"Golden Croakers Will Eat You Up At South Point"
by: Frank Davis
Golden Croakers Will Eat You Up At South Point!
Frank Davis / Fishing Expert
So what’s a Golden Croaker? Whadaya mean they’ll “eat you up?” And where in the heck is South Point?
Well, the old timers will tell you that a Golden Croaker (which is very similar to an Atlantic Croaker) is also referred to as “Lake Pontchartrain groceries!” It’s a small to medium size fish that almost everyone who lived adjacent to the lake back in the day would head out on weekends to catch. Why? Because it’s what much of New Orleans and the surrounding area ate several times a week back then.
“And we loved ‘em!” Capt. Kenny Kreeger recalled as he pulled one croaker after another over the gunwale of his boat. “Everybody could catch croakers—you fished them straight up and down, usually on a hand-line, right close to the boat, with pieces of market bait. There was never a limit on them so you caught ice chests full of ‘em, brought them home, scaled and gutted ‘em, and fried ‘em up for the family and—much of the time—for your friends as well. It’s how we filled ourselves up back in those days.”
Of course, years later when shrimpers stopped using picking boxes and went to salt barrels to cull their shrimp catches, the saline water killed much of the croaker crop (biologists referred to it as “by catch”). And it followed that the long time practice of catching croakers came to a subtle end. Even the large 3 and 4 pound croakers that head boats like the famous “Miss Mississippi” took out of Empire on croaker charters eventually became extinct.
Sports fishermen then turned to other species that theretofore were relegated almost exclusively to dyed-in-the-wool veteran anglers. . . primarily speckled trout. And thus the fishing pressure of the last couple of decades began, and fishermen who formerly were happy catching drum, flounder, sheepshead, channel mullet, and redfish (which, incidentally, in those days were considered “trash fish”), now wanted nothing but trout, trout, and more trout.
“But that was then and this is now,” Capt. Kreeger interrupted his shades-of-yesteryear daydream. “Now, thank goodness, we got croakers starting to show up again! Biologically, I don’t know why ‘cuz I’m not a fisheries scientist. But I’m glad to know that I can bring a group of fishing newbies or a whole passle of kids out here, give them a rod and reel—or even a hand-line like in days of old—bait them up with dead shrimp, and have them pull in dozens of croakers like we did a long time ago. . .and have just as much fun doing it.”
Croakers, however, are but one of the treasures of Pontchartrain these days. Dedicated anglers are also hauling home a wide smorgasbord of other sports fish. And old timers agree that now’s the time to get out there and catch ‘em.
“Early in the morning you can fish adjacent to the bridges and train trestle,” Capt. Kreeger continued, “because early in the morning the sun is low on the horizon and it’s still relatively cool. Then when the heat starts bearing down, it’s time to make the move to under the bridges and into the shade. And while the Number One bait right now is live shrimp, I can practically guarantee that you’ll catch fish as consistently under the bridge as you will out in the open.
“So come this Saturday and Sunday, depending, of course, on what Hurricane Dean does while heading westward, Lake Pontchartrain is still your terminal destination.”
Oh—I nearly forgot. South Point is the rock rip-rap shoreline where the trestle comes ashore on the south side of the lake near Irish Bayou. It’s been a dependable hotspot for as long as anyone can remember. But that’s another story for another time.
Next week, also depending upon the track of Dean, I’ll venture back down to Cocodrie in Terrebonne Parish and check out the late summer fishing in those parts. As always, I’ll let you know what the story is the minute I get back on dry land.
In the meantime, tight lines and good times. . .and stay safe!
P.S. If you need a guide to take you to all the old reliable Lake Pontchartrain hotspots, feel free to call Capt. Kreeger and book a trip with him. His number is 985-643-2944. Just don’t ask him to take you to my special spots!
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