Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 41; No. 4 - FALL 2017 - Page 33

Topwater Time (Continued from page 22.) the bait. To order the StutterStep go to www.rat-l-trap.com. Other popular topwater plugs that have been around for years and boast proven success, include Heddon’s Super Spook and Super Spook Jr., the Skitterwalk made by Rapala, and MirrOLure’s Top Dog and She Dog. There’s no telling how many fish have been caught on these surface walkers, and they still work exceptionally well today. These plugs can be found at just about any sporting goods store. When fishing a topwater, it’s easy to get caught up in mindlessly casting the plug downwind as far as possible, and then working it straight back against the waves. Although simple enough for the angler, this is not be the most effective strategy. Fish tend to feed into the current, using the water movement to their advantage to strike. Wind driven current is often the strongest form of water movement during certain periods of the day. This makes casting a plug straight downwind and working it against the wind driven current seem pointless. Trying different angles when the wind creates noticeable surface chop will produce more hits. I have had many successful days throwing topwaters in which the only way a fish would actually eat the bait was if the plug was cast perpendicular to the wind. Casting into the wind can often produce bone crushing strikes as well. Cooler temperatures and com- fortable weather has arrived on the Gulf Coast, while the fishing action is just heating up. The bite will be explosive so take advantage of it. It’s topwater time. Don’t miss it! G C F Gulf Coast Closeup (Continued from page 27.) Outdoor Adventures Bikers, hikers, skaters and joggers explore Louisiana’s first rails-to-trails conversion, the Tammany Trace. It’s a scenic 31-mile recreational corridor connecting Covington on the western end with Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe, and Slidell on the eastern end. That’ll get you warmed up for trekking the rest of the parish. Honey Island Swamp, an area encompassing 25 square miles with nearly 70,000 acres, lies near Slidell in the eastern portion of the parish. It’s considered to be the most pristine swampland (flooded forest) remaining in the United States and was Louisiana’s first Nature Conservancy area. Tour companies provide you with narrated boat excursions where you’ll learn the history and ecology of the swamp and its inhabitants. Although it looks like a place where you’d see the Swamp Thing, it’s celebrated by birders and nature enthusiasts. Shouldn’t have to mention it, but bring your camera. But the swamp isn’t the only place to see wild critters on the Northshore. Global Wildlife Center near Folsom, has nearly 3,000 ungulates (hoofed herbivores), many of them endangered or threatened, roaming freely within a 900- acre enclosure. The tour guides readily identify all the animals by species. All the while the enthusiastically sharing their knowledge of the behaviors you’ll witness. It’s a safari in Louisiana that you will want to take. Birdwatchers spy on a large assortment of species at one of the Northshore’s forests of preserves, including Big Branch Marsh, Pearl River, Northlake Nature Center, Abita Flatwoods Preserve and Honey Island. Seasonal visitors include the scarlet tanager, indigo bunting, ruby-throated hummingbirds, and a crowd of waterfowl species. Resident birds, besides the red- cockaded woodpecker, include great blue herons, great and snowy herons, great egrets, white ibis, numerous hawk species and hundreds, if not thousands, of other wing-flappers. Dining Some say Louisiana is all about the food. If you like to eat, then St. Tammany is a gold mine and it will take you days and nights to sample its richness. I was very lucky to have hunted quail and ducks with Chef John Besh but luckier still, I got to eat his fabulous cooking for several days at camp. My wife claims he whipped up the best seared ahi tuna she has ever tasted. And foodies will recognize John from his appearances on TV shows including his own, “John Besh’s Family Table” and “My New Orleans.” Both PBS shows were based on his cookbooks by the same names. There are dozens of other pallet- pleasing restaurants along the Northshore, some with nationally notable chefs. Del Porto Ristorante (Italian), The Dakota (contemporary Louisiana) and Café Lynn (classic French country New Orleans style) in Covington, Camellia Cafe (casual, French Quarter style) in Abita Springs. If you’re hungry, it’s your fault. Accommodations With more than two dozen B&Bs in the Northshore communities you can arrange for plush lodgings in town, on a river, in the woods and in the countryside. Breakfasts range from gourmet to country-style, all with a taste of Louisiana cooked in. Fontainebleau State Park offers 2,800 acres with attractive cabins built over Lake Pontchartrain, 130 improved campsites, 180 unimproved campsites, nature trails, lodge, swimming pool and beach playground, and the ruins of an 1829 sugar mill among towering oaks. You can find accommodations from motels and lodges to resorts and campgrounds. Just name it and claim it. Special Events The Northshore holds more than 50 events in October ranging from beer and wine tastings, crafts workshops, art, jewelry and antique shows to music, marathons and a great many outdoor happenings. LouisianaNorthshore.com has complete listings for each month. Here is a taste – and you’ll do a lot of tasting at most of these events: Jazz’n the Vines is an outdoor concert series offering a variety of musical styles from jazz, swing, blues and bluegrass. Bring your blanket, lawn chair, umbrella, flashlight, picnic fare and a thirst for wine to enjoy music under the stars from May to October. At the Madisonville Wooden Boat Festival you’ll see hundreds of wooden boats along Tchefuncte River’s shores each October. It’s the largest gathering of watercraft on the Gulf Coast. Activities and live music entertain the multitudes, including the Quick & Dirty Boat Building Contest and Race. The festival is a family event with a Children’s Village. The Kayak Fishing Boondoggle is another family-friendly event featuring fishing, food, camping and kayaking at Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville. You can try out various watercrafts and hook up with some of the best fishing of the year in nearby bayous. Bottom Line You’ll want to take a trip to the Northshore for the fishing, and the laidback lifestyle will make you want to stay. To plan your fishing quest, contact Captain Mike Gallo, owner of Angling Adventures of Louisiana at 985-781- 7811, 877-422-6352, or www.aaofla.com. To see more details about the many events held in St. Tammany Parish, visit www.LouisianaNorthshore.com or call 800-634-9443. I think you’ll be delighted. G C F OCTOBER • NOVEMBER • DECEMBER 2 0 1 7 33