By Jonathan Olivier
When the summer sun starts blazing, Baton Rouge and its adjoining areas are subject to a migration to the surrounding swampy bottomlands by those looking for vast expanses of water for boat riding, fishing and all-around fun. Here are the top 5 picks for waterways where you can relish the blue, summer skies this year – in no particular order.
1. False River
False River, next to the town of New Roads, was once known as a trophy bass oxbow lake. While still a popular destination for anglers, it has evolved into a paradise for any and all watersports – even sail boats use the lake at certain times of the year. The advantages of the river: it’s long and mostly straight to offer plenty of boats room; deep with virtually no underwater structure that could cause injury; and is surrounded by camps and homes to create a family-friendly atmosphere. However, because of the wide use and size of the lake, during the middle of the day the water can become choppy and inhibit some watersports.
2. Amite River/Diversion Canal/Blind River
These waterways are so close in proximity with so much going on during the summer, just one couldn’t be chosen – besides, you can access them all easily as they are connected. Aside from miles of winding water perfect for watersports, fishing and riding, take your pick from a good time at establishments such as the Blind River Bar where bands, poker runs and a party atmosphere almost always guarantees a good time.
3. Intracoastal Canal
If you’re looking for a section of water all to yourself, look no farther than Port Allen, right across the Mississippi from Baton Rouge. The landing is even hard to get to, which is hidden under the Intracoastal overpass among a maze of roads. The views aren’t the best, but riders have a long, straight canal for miles to enjoy watersports or just casual boat riding. If you want some company, head to Morely Marina for drinks just a few miles from the landing. Riding farther south, one can stop off for a hot lunch at Jack Miller’s landing, where the fishing is usually good in the area.
4. Tickfaw River
Homes, camps and houseboats line the Tickfaw River, which snakes through Livingston Parish before dumping into Lake Maurepas. Sand bars near the mouth of the Tickfaw as it opens up to Lake Maurepas offer opportunities to park your boat and wade in the water, where you can find a crowd on holidays and weeknds. Boat traffic during the summer is usually high, but that doesn’t stop party goers from enjoying establishments like the infamous The Prop Stop or Tin Lizzy’s, both of which are located right on the river with spots to park your boat.
5. Belle River/Lake Verret
Of course, areas near the Atchafalaya Basin couldn’t be left out of a list such as this. Belle River, which is located outside the spillway levees, provides miles of space to boat ride and partake in watersports. The fishing during the summer can be good for bass and bream there, too. Lake Verret is accessible via Bell River, where miles of canals and bayous offer excellent fishing opportunities. If you’re willing to brave crossing the wide expanse of Lake Verret, which can turn dangerously choppy in minutes during inclement weather, then you can stop by Gros’ Marina for delectable hamburgers, some brews and kick back to the tunes of a live band.
Did we miss your favorite spot? Perhaps there’s more to do, or we got the whole list wrong. Let us know by sending in your own suggestions by commenting below.