Monday, March 07, 2016


Crappie, also known as white perch, or sac-a-lait (sack of milk) are a staple of Louisiana fishing.  Late February, early March is the best time for big crappie (and I have trouble typing that, we call them white perch).  Eaton Rapids Joe sent me to an article in a north Louisiana newspaper about some boys who have been catching some big ones in the Poverty Point reservoir.

Oh, and these are some slabs, in the 3.5 pound range.  Kudos to them, those fish are worth weighing.

Damned big white perch.  (Or, crappie, if you prefer.)

Joe's email reminded me of a time when my Dad was part owner of a barge on Toledo Bend, and the white perch were phenomenal.  Not in size, so much, but in numbers.

What we called barges, back in those days, many people might call party boats today.  Large pontoon vessels that would hold 12-14 people comfortably.  Dad and Chester built this barge in Chester's shop and christened it the Afta' Sundown.  It was designed specifically for catching white perch (crappie).  We might have 8 poles out at any time, rigged for white perch.

Chester knew a honey hole, out on the bank of the old Sabine river channel.  That channel runs through Toledo Bend and forns the Texas, Louisiana state line.  Chester would park the barge on that channel, anchor solidly, and rig the poles.  We'd commence fishing.

The limit, per person, was fifty (50) fish.  So, with Dad, and Chester, and I, and another sibling, and one of Chester's boys, we could catch 250 fish, legally, per day.  If we stayed out overnight, we could catch two limits each (the possession limit) of 500 fish.  At that time, the white perch on Toledo Bend averaged over a pound per fish.  Sometimes we'd get up to two pounds per, and we threw the small ones back.

So, if you figure an overnight fishing trip, 100 fish per angler, you might come back to the dock on Sunday morning with 450-500 fish.  Each fish would yield two, 4 oz filets, so we'd borrow an electric outlet at the landing, filet those fish with electric knives, and bring back about 200 lbs of pure, white, crappie filets for an overnight fishing trip.  It's not a bad way to feed a family, ad we ate lots of white perch (crappie).

Dad always said that if you can't feed yourself in Louisiana, you deserve to starve to death.

Maybe one day, I'll tell you about catching bluegill with my father-in-law, Boonie.  It was almost un-sporting, and there is no shortage of bluegill in the state o Louisiana.


JoeMama said...

What did you use for bait?

Around here, minnows on a fine wire #6, gold, Mustad hook are the bait of choice. Usually suspended about 14" below a small bobber.

Small jigs near brush when spawning.

I am always interested in learning something new.

Anonymous said...

Bluegill and crappie are my favorite freshwater fish. That would almost be worth the trip from West Texas.


kamas716 said...

Holy Cow, those things are huge! The ones we get up here in ND are usually around half that size. We used to go down to Nelson Lake in central ND to catch all we could handle. There's a power plant there that uses the lake as part of it's cooling pond, so it stays ice free all winter and is nice and warm to swim in during the spring and fall.

Gerry N. said...

Crappie are an introduced species in Washington, more prevalent in Eastern than Western Wa. That said, they are quite numerous in W. Wa. as well. Many small lakes have burgeoning populations where they are easily caught, seeming to prefer white feather jigs and streamers fished about 4' below the surface and pulled home in short pulls of about 8-12". My wife and I married in June of '68. I Had a crud job in Longview at the Long-Bell craft paper mill greasing fork lifts and other rolling stock. So I soon learned about fishing in the Long-Bell mill pond. At the time the limit on crappie was all you could catch and one fish. So Ann and I would fill a 14 qt. pail each evening after work, then go home and filet 'em. The shack we rented had an old functioning freezer on the back porch, so every two weeks we would fill the back of my '60 Valiant station wagon with frozen crappie filets in boxes and run the 80 mi. up to Seattle to my folk's place and eat crappie until we couldn't move. That pond still pumps out crappie like a Russian trawler. The limit is now all you can catch from Sunrise to Sunrise plus five fish. For me that's about two 5 gal plastic buckets, at which time I start getting tired.

Crappie are available around NW Wa. especially in Lk. Union, a large lake in the middle of Seattle. They seem to like all the marinas and small bays around the lake, most of those bays are about the size of a parking space, there are dozens of 'em. They also congregate under house

The sloughs and backwaters around the mouth of the Cowlitz are rife with crappie, bass, blue gill, and in season, cutthroat trout, salmon, smelt and more. also huge numbers of mudbugs. Unless you're stupid as a hemlock stump you can't go hungry in SW WA.

30-40 miles N of Longview, you get into tree farm country which is home to large numbers of feral hogs which are vermin in Wa, and a stop at any timber co. office will get you coffee, a big smile, a pass and a map of gates open to hunting areas and a permit to take as many hogs as you can kill and carry. Local butcher shops will usually cut and wrap your pork for cheap. I've even traded meat for cutting and wrapping. All you need is a general Hunting licence.
The most popular arm is the good 'ol SKS or a .30-30. ( prefer my cut down Yugo SKS with Wolf 150gr. Soft points.) i can't walk more'n about 50 yards any more so I carry everything in a 5 gal bucket with a swivel seat cover and sit under a cedar sapling covered with a surplus camo poncho.

Gerry N. said...

Da*n, They congregate under houseboats....
Gerry N.