There’s one thing you need to know if you are heading to Cajun Country near Lafayette, Louisiana. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
That’s Cajun French for “Let the good times roll!” And whether you are fishing, sightseeing, taking a swamp tour, or hitting some of those fabulous south Louisiana eateries in this area, the phrase is applicable to all.
Lafayette is steeped in history and in fishing tradition. It’s not too far from Avery Island, the home of the famous Tabasco Hot Sauce and other related products. You can step back into the 1800’s at the Alexandre Mouton House, which is also now the Lafayette Museum. Or you can visit one of the Acadian Village attractions that include a full replica of a Cajun community. Of course no visit is complete without a trip to the old reddish brown brick Romanesque Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. And there’s lots more within a short drive of Lafayette.
If it’s Cajun food you want, you better come hungry. There are multiple choices with tradition as deep and delicious as Cajun culture itself. Two of the south’s best restaurants are here, Prejean’s and the original Pat’s Fisherman’s Wharf on the levee in nearby Henderson. After you eat at one of these, you’ll also begin to better understand another old south Louisiana shout out — “Aaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeee”. It’s just too good for words.
Food and fun are just part of the Lafayette experience. While they can make you forget that you came here to go fishing, please don’t. There are multiple freshwater fishing opportunities from neary brackish water lakes and bayous all the way to the huge saltwater Vermillion Bay and Gulf of Mexico. There are numerous guides in the area that can take you on a trip. It’s not an area that you want to strike out on by yourself if you are unfamiliar with the fishing or waters.
If it’s bass, sacalait (that’s crappie in most places), bream and catfish that you are after, look no further than nearby Lake Martin on the edge of St. Martin Parish. Martin is a small lake, covering less than 1,000 acres. And it is somewhat difficult to fish in the summers because of the huge lily pad fields, but it is loaded with largemouth bass. Soft plastics or plastic frogs work well, as do spinnerbaits and small topwaters. It’s also growing as a popular place to fish out of kayaks and canoes, despite a large population of alligators. Martin is also world famous as a bird watcher’s bucket list destination. The bream and sacalait are not huge, but they’ll produce enough good catches for a fish fry.
Another small lake with a big reputation is Spanish Lake. This lake is loaded with big sacalait and when the bite is on, you can easily catch a cooler full. In the spring they spawn in shallow water and then migrate out to the deeper spots of the 1,240 acre lake located off La. Hwy. 182. It was once a swampy lake, but was restored by building shallow levees, which also made deep holes that are conducive to great sacalait fishing.
If you want an unusual fishing adventure, a quick trip to Lake Peigneur (pegn-yoo-er) would be interesting. This used to be a freshwater lake before an oil company drilled into an underground salt mine and the drilling rig, an island and everything in the area was sucked into the hole. The saltwater from the Gulf ran backwards into the lake and refilled it. There are still some good catfishing spots around the shrimp plants, but it’s mostly red drum and black drum, along with a few bass. Water also flows into the lake from Delcambre Canal and Vermillion Bay with both runs producing good fishing at times.
Lake Fausse Pointe is a huge 17,000 acre system that is also contiguous to the massive Atchafalaya Basin. The lake is full of largemouths, sacalait, and bream. There’s also a huge state park on Fausse Point with activities around the lake that are great for a family vacation. Just enjoying the picturesque moss draped cypress tree terrain in south Louisiana is worth the trip.
Lafayette is also a gateway to some fantastic saltwater fishing. Vermillion Bay and the edges of the Gulf of Mexico here produce large catches of speckled trout, redfish, flounder, croaker, drum, sheepshead and white trout. One of the calling cards of this area is huge speckled trout. While average trout may run a pound or two, catches of up to six to nine pounds are regular here.
As you head on offshore, there is no limit to what you can catch in the Gulf. There are yellowfin and bluefin tuna, snapper,wahoo and all kinds of billfish if you know where and when to go. That’s why planning a guided trip here is so important. Closer to shore, you can also catch redfish, black drum and trout.
Get your Cajun French ready and “let the good times roll!” Fishing in this area is some of the best in the Pelican State; you won’t regret spending any amount of time here. Enjoy the food and meet some of the nicest people on the planet when you visit. As far as fishing goes, we recommend hiring a local guide to increase your chances for success. They know the area best and will have the gear you need. Plan at least four hours, or go big with an eight hour excursion. It’s a good day when you’re fishing in Lafayette.