PREVIEW: Fortune Cookies and Horseshoes

By Rob Newell - May 16, 2018

As anglers arrived at the small, obscure ramp on Workinger Bayou in the Black River-Cocodrie Lake complex for the second day of the Elimination Round of the MLF Cup, they were ravenous for their official maps.

When the MLF Cups are held at venues where the pros have fished before – like Lake Eufaula or the Harris Chain for instance – their appetites for the official zone maps are pretty tepid. But drop 10 MLF Cup pros into the middle of a Louisiana swamp and suddenly they’re famished for a zone map to see exactly what they are going to be fishing for the day.

Mike Iaconelli was starving for a zone map when he was handed a “fortune cookie.”

“Looks like we’ll be dining on fortune cookies today,” Iaconelli laughed. “They are called oxbow lakes, but I call them fortune cookie lakes because they’re all shaped just like a fortune cookie. And Louisiana is like a whole jar full of fortune cookies.”

And Ike is okay with that, especially since his 2003 Bassmaster Classic title came from Louisiana’s biggest swamp of all: the Louisiana Delta.

“I’ve never been here before, but just from my experience on these fortune cookie fisheries, here’s what I can tell you,” he offered, “It’s likely to be shallow-water power fishing; the water color is likely to be stained to muddy; I can probably leave anything that runs deeper than 10-feet under the deck; and, I bet that there’s a cypress tree somewhere in these lakes.

“They are called oxbow lakes, but I call them fortune cookie lakes because they’re all shaped just like a fortune cookie. And Louisiana is like a whole jar full of fortune cookies.”

“Now, here is what I don’t know,” he continued. “What other kinds of cover are in these lakes? Docks? Vegetation? Those are the mysteries we’ll have to take a look at during the ride through. I’m comfortable on these oxbows, but the thing that does bother me about the ones I’m seeing on these maps is how uniform their banks are. It’s like they’re all just straight bank with no in flows or outflows for water exchange and no backwaters.”

What Ike calls a “fortune cookie,” his fellow MLF Cup Pro Andy Montgomery calls a “horseshoe.”

“They look like horseshoes,” Montgomery said. “And that’s really all I can tell you about them because I have no experience on these type of oxbow fisheries. Zero. None."

“I like that it’s going to be shallow fishing. And I like that it’s most likely all largemouth. But the banks on these places are like just one, continuous contour with no change. I like reading banks – reading transitions from rock to sand to soil to gravel to whatever, but there is none of that here. The map says it’s 49 miles of shoreline and that’s all it is – straight continuous shoreline with no breaks, or coves, or pockets or backwaters – just shoreline.”

“But, hey, the good news is there is 49 miles of it,” Montgomery added with a grin. “Some of these guys don’t like huge zones like this, but I love them. It gives me plenty of room to fish new water all day long, so I’ll take it.”

Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., lives only a couple of hours from the area where he is fishing today, but even he has never heard of the lakes on his official map.

“I’ve never fished here before,” Hackney confirmed. “But this part of the country is made up of dozens of waterways like this.”

“I’m guessing there might be a cypress tree or two in one of these lakes,” he added with a grin. “And I probably have something in my box that will work here. I mean I’ve got some jigs…some square bills, maybe a buzzbait…just saying.”

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