To a party of hunters, or to the solitary hunter who wishes to make the journey into an ideal duck and goose country, the Head of the Passes, at the very mouth of the river offers the best shooting in the South. On the westward bank of the river, some twenty miles below the forts, is a pass known as the Jump, which leads from the river to the marshes bordering on the sea. On the east bank is Cubitt's Gap, which also leads from the river to the sea.
In the Jump there are plenty of professionals who will look after visitors for a consideration, and at Empire Postofflce, in Plaquemines, lives Captain Tony Rodriques, a guide, who is noted throughout that entire section of the country. Bay Adam, with fine sea fishing all the year round, is located on the Grand Isle Road. Bay Adam is known to the people of New Orleans not only as a hunting and fishing quarter, but as the pass which leads to the mouth of Bayou Cook and the famous oyster beds. Both in the bay and at the mouth of the bayou are oyster beds which extend over miles of territory and which furnish a majority of the oysters for the local market.
In February the tarpon fishing begins. Tarpon in this part of Louisiana are as plentiful as in any section of Florida and are much easier to reach. By leaving the city in the morning the fisherman can reach the tarpon grounds in time to make his first cast the same afternoon. With good luck, he can be back the next day with a silver fish, king of the Southern waters. In recent years many successful catches have been made, by both local and visiting fishermen; but, of course, to find the proper grounds one will need a guide.
On the eastward bank of the river, at a point called St. Sophie, teal duck shooting is magnificent
St. Tammany Parish.
To the north of the city, across the big Lake Pontchartrain and on the line of three railroads, an entirely different kind of hunting can be found. At present, the easiest of these localities to reach is St. Tammany Parish, on the line of the East Louisiana Road. St. Tammany, although close to the city, is high, and, in places, a rolling country. Here are found quail in big covies; turkeys frequent the bottom lands along Pearl River, and the Bogue Falia, Bogue Chitto and Amite Rivers. East and West Pearl Rivers inclose what is called Honey Island. This densely overgrown stretch of land is filled with big and small game.
The stranger who goes hunting in St. Tammany should travel on the East Louisiana to Abita Springs, there secure the services of a guide, and strike out into the country. Both quail and woodcocks are fairly plentiful, and a good shot ought to bag twenty to thirty quail and a dozen woodcock in a day.
All along the line of the railroad, as far down as Pearl River, where the junction with the Queen and Crescent line is made, quail are thick. A few years of good protection have allowed the covies to multiply until the country is fairly filled with birds. In the gum swamps the gray squirrels frolic on every tree, and, to the eastward of Covington, and throughout the entire parish, in fact, the foxes are "driven" by the enterprising marksman. All these points can be reached in an hour or two from New Orleans.
The Illinois Central Road, from a point ten miles outside the city, furnishes excellent shooting grounds. At Bayou La Branche, Owl Bayou, Pass Manchac, and further on in the high lands of Tangipahoa Parish, at Hammond, Amite City, Ponchatoula, as far as the Mississippi line, the quail have long made the country famous.
Formerly turkeys were very plentiful in Tangipahoa, but in recent years the parish authorities have checked the hunters, as the birds were being rapidly exterminated.
The beautiful Tangipahoa River furnishes fine, bass fishing, in addition to quail shooting. By traveling up the Illinois Central to Pontchatoula, and driving out to Davis' Ferry, visiting anglers will find the black bass and rock bass plentiful enough to furnish amusement for a couple of days.
If the hunter desires to penetrate the dense undergrowth of Honey Island for deer, turkey and bears, the services of a guide will be absolutely necessary. Often men have been "lost" in this famous island. Guides, however, may be secured at Pearl River Station, and the trip will pay the stranger.
He will see a virgin' forest which rivals the jungles of the tropics in thickness. The very denseness of the island has made it famous in past years as the home of fugitive criminals. It was to this island that Bunch, the train robber, who terrorized the South for years, went for safety after each hold-up. He was, in fact, killed amid the umbrageous coverts of this little-explored locality
Along Lake Pontchartrain.
Both the Queen and Crescent and East Louisiana Roads cross Lake Pontchartrain on one of the longest railroad bridges in America. It is thirteen miles from shore to shore, and on both of these shores there are good hunting grounds, while the lake itself furnishes plenty of game fish. At the south end of the bridge, called South Point, Phil Geiger operates a comfortable public camp, which is fully equipped. The bayous which come out of the marshes have plenty of black bass and perch, and' toward the close of winter these fish are exceptionally good eating.
Just as soon as the first signs of warm weather make themselves felt the fish come through the passes from the sea and are found at South Point.
Strange undercurrents seem to affect this point more readily than any other locality, and as a result the fishing begins there earlier and the sport is good for months longer than in any other quarter of the lake.
At the north end, familiarly termed
of the big bridge, are situated two handsome private clubs. Visiting anglers can find no accommodations there unless by special invitation. Once admitted as a guest of either of the clubs, they will find a way open to one of the best duck and snipe shooting grounds near New Orleans. The clubs, some time ago, combined to purchase the marsh lands and turn them into preserves. Only members of these two clubs are allowed to shoot upon these private grounds. Salt Bayou, which runs through the marshes, upholds a record as one of the best black bass waters within miles of the city. In addition to its natural advantages, the North Shore has the further feature of being close to the city. Anglers or hunters can leave New Orleans on one evening train and return on the next.
The laws of the State and city are liberal. No restrictions are placed upon the number of deer, ducks, quail or turkeys killed, as in other States.
The deer season is open five months in the year and one man may kill as many as his good fortune and skill will allow. There is an unwritten law which prohibits his killing game at night, however. He may shoot and brings back to the city from any of the surrounding parishes all the ducks, quail and turkeys that he can find. In St. Tamany Parish, however, he will not be allowed to sell any game killed. The State law furnishing protection to game has been passed with a view to promoting the sport, not restricting it.
It must be a sportsman, however, for no vagrant, professional or pot hunter can operate in this State under the law.
The laws granting protection to the fishing interests are purely local. Each parish passes its own regulations, which are intended to meet the conditions existing in that particular locality. All these laws, however, have fixed Feb. 15, of each years, as the date for the closing of the open green trout or black bass season.
There is so little really cold weather in Louisiana that the bass spawn much earlier than they do in the North, and it is necessary to close the season before the warm days of spring arrive in order to secure the proper protection. Anglers are fortunate, however, for they have perch fishing in the fresh water streams all the time and very early sea fishing in the spring, which leaves only a few weeks during which fishermen are debarred from their favorite pursuit.
In catching the black bass there is but one thing of which the stranger must be careful; he must not keep bass that are smaller than 10 inches in length. A special ordinance prohibits the catching of such small fish. They are not fit for food and only serve to spoil a good fish for next season.
offers opportunities to visiting sportsmen which are nowhere excelled. Where else can a locality be found in which deer are killed daily within ten miles of the heart of such a city, or where duck grounds, which will furnish forty and fifty birds to a single gun in a morning, lie within twenty miles of thickly-populated centers. The hunters of New Orleans are numbered by the hundreds, simply for the reason that they can leave on Saturday afternoon and return on Sunday with plenty of game. Time is, of course, the great factor, but the question of economy plays an important part. Almost any hunting ground mentioned here can be visited at a cost of not more than $5 per man, including railway fare.
Liberality, generosity and good fellowship seem the three main characteristics of Louisiana fishing and hunting. If the laws of the State are liberal the sportsmen, too, will be found generous in the extreme, and the very best of fellowship prevails, even among the most bitter rivals in the championship ranks. To lovers of the rod and gun from the far off North, the field in Louisiana will prove a revelation, and no true sportsman should leave New Orleans without testing the great advantages offered by every acre of land, and. almost every waterway, within fifty miles of the city.The Picayune's Guide to New Orleans, 1904