The area around Slidell could easily be called a living photo op; There’s a little bit of everything in this southeastern Louisiana city. Located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, crabbing, fishing and all kinds of boating go hand in hand with the lake. There are accommodations of all kinds and everything from flower garden tours to symphony concerts in the park on a regular basis. In the popular Olde Towne area, visitors shop and can find regular fairs, events and concerts held throughout the year. Shops like the Old Towne Soda Shop and cooking classes at the Passionate Platter are two unique stops here. You can even take a tour of several movie sets from films shot right here. And the area is surrounded by a forest mixture of loblolly pines as high as a skyscraper and moss-draped Live Oaks that look hundreds of years old…because they are. And of course, you can find just about any kind of Louisiana food — or a blend of it — and plenty of shopping as well. Located just a few miles to the west of the Mississippi stateline, Slidell is also just a 30 minute ride down I-10 to the hopping city of New Orleans. It’s also close to quaint towns like Mandeville and Madisonville on the North shore of the big lake. There are two National Wildlife Refuges within a stone’s throw — Bogue Chitto NWR to the north and Bayou Sauvage NWR to the south.
But it’s the fishing in the area that often pushes the attention on all those things to the side. Before you even think about going fishing, first you have to take a look at exactly how many places there are to fish. Lake Pontchartrain itself is just over 600 square miles of water, marsh and bayous. That fact alone points out that if you aren’t used to fishing here, you need to find a fishing guide or charter captain. They can put you on the fish and save days of looking and trying to figure out what is biting and on what bait. There are also areas like the Rigolets and Biloxi Marsh that have many community holes producing fish on a regular basis. The most popular species are redfish, flounder, speckled trout and sheepshead. These fish are abundant, but the roaming schools do move around a lot. They don’t do it for fun. They follow the bait. And where you find bait, like shrimp and shad and small sunfish, you’ll find the gamefish. The redfish and speckled trout flourish in these rich waters, often reaching trophy size in numbers. Good places to fish include the road and railroad bridges and other manmade structures. Grass beds along the shore and in the shallow parts of the lake are also good. A word of caution here: much of the lake is shallow and you need to pay attention to where you go. There is also a lot of water fluctuation and runoff into the lake; fishing can go from good to bad — or vice versa — as quick as you can turn on or off a lightbulb. Again, a good reason to have a knowledgeable guide. And here’s the kicker. Although you are in the middle of a seemingly endless saltwater fish factory, you’ll also find good populations of largemouth bass. You won’t find any 10 pounders, but the bass run the same areas as the trout and can be caught around manmade structures and in the cuts and bayous. There’s even bass tournaments held here that come in with some amazing catches. Both sides of Lake Pontchartrain also open up into other productive waters. To the west, the lake enters Lake Maurepas, which is good for a mixture of fish. To the east, you can enter into the giant Lake Borgne Bay and then connect through the marsh to the Chandeleur Sound and into the Gulf of Mexico. This area is a hotspot for fishing tournaments of all kinds. Check out local Chamber and fishing sites on the internet to see the variety and timing. If you want to spend extra time fishing, look no further than the St. Tammany Parish area. There are several fishing piers like the 400-foot Mandeville Pier which includes benches, a fish cleaning station, and plenty of picnic spots at the entrance to the pier. And it’s free. The St. Tammany Fishing Pier is a result of two spans of I-10 bridge that were damaged in Hurricane Katrina. They have now been converted to fishing areas and have artificial reefs all around the pier. Nearby Lake Fontainebleau and its state park add more opportunities to the area. There are also ponds here stocked by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stocked for kids fishing. You can even go down the Lacombe’s Lake Road and crab, cast from the shore for specks, or just soak in the many, many — you guessed it — photo ops.
Bring the camera. You’ll want to capture the day’s memories after fishing near Slidell. There’s so much to experience, you’ll need to remember everything. Hiring a local guide is the way to go, find one today with FishAnywhere.com.