Where to Find Freshwater Fishing in New Orleans
Heading down to the bayou this fall? The greater New Orleans area not only offers unparalleled jazz, Cajun fare and boozy celebrations year-round, but also some pretty unique freshwater (though in this case “fresh” is relative, given that many local bodies of water are brackish at best) fishing opportunities in its many lakes, rivers and swamps. So when you find a moment between beignets or need a break from the blare of Bourbon street, head down to the water and embrace the spirit of the Big Easy. Here are three places you can find great fishing in New Orleans.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
When you think of freshwater fishing in N’awlins, it’s hard to not think of Lake Pontchartrain. After all, it covers an area of 630 square miles. While you’re at it, don’t miss the chance to cross the causeway, the longest straight bridge over water in the world, that crosses the lake.
What you may not know is that the lake offers a huge range of fishing opportunities. Mingled with ocean water as many bodies of water in the ocean-adjacent delta are, the lake water is brackish, but contains many freshwater fish and other interesting wildlife, including massive alligator snapping turtles. Fishing is open year-round, and you can catch a variety of bass, crappie, garfish, carp, redfish (or red drum), and more. There are no size limits on most bass species, and you can take home 10 largemouth and spotted bass, five striped bass, and up to 50 (yes, 50) white bass each day.
And the methods you can use to harvest your catch are wide-ranging and exciting: You can use a bow and arrow (but not a crossbow) to bag garfish, or a spear to catch carp. You can catch minnows, crawfish and shrimp (for bait or otherwise) using cast nets, minnow traps, recreational trawls and dip nets. Fish by boat, or take on the more challenging method and fish straight off the causeway. Although they’re more rare than bass, catching often-enormous redfish off the causeway and other bridges is popular among locals.
It’s a massive lake, and regulations do vary by area, so check regulations using the FarWide app for more specifics.
The mighty Mississippi runs through town, and it offers nearly as many opportunities for fishing as the lake does. This is the place to go if you’re seeking catfish. That’s not to say that there aren’t a wide range of other fish species to be found, but nothing beats a catfish fry from the Mississippi River itself. Without ever leaving the city, you can find all manner of little ponds, nooks and crannies in the batture—the area between the river and the levee—nestled amid a tangle of swamp trees, willow branches and more. The batture ponds tend to be deep and often contain huge, 25–50 pound catfish just waiting for a snack. Most of Louisiana’s record-holding catfish, weighing between 85 and 110 pounds, were pulled from the Mississippi. Be cautious while you’re at it—the current can be swift, even in the ponds.
Set out into the swamps and wetlands to find an unearthly world right in New Orleans proper. The Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge contains flora and fauna like nowhere else, including a vast array of birds (340 species, including many waterfowl), gators, turtles, deer, foxes and more.
The fresh and brackish marshes, lagoons, bayous, lakes and ponds are home to many species of fish, including largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and redfish. For a quiet, exploratory experience, many outdoor enthusiasts favor fishing from kayaks, which are suited to the more wooded waterways.