Southern Cooking

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Openerw
The winding Blood River in Livingston Parish offers picture-perfect views in the spring.

Louisiana’s Livingston Parish is a place like no other for boating and fishing. 

Story and photos by Gregg Mansfield

If you are looking for a place where the fishing is great and the people you meet are instant friends, Louisiana’s Livingston Parish is your place.

Situated about an hour north of New Orleans, Livingston Parish is unspoiled by development and has over 400 miles of navigable waterways—more than Venice, Italy. If fishing, hunting, seafood, or antiquing are your passions, Livingston Parish is a worthy trip.

“The people are friendly and generous, and you’ll always experience Southern hospitality in this area,” said Kathleen Abels, marketing manager for the Livingston Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Boat On The Dockw
While the restaurants have dock space, raft-ups are typical on busy weekends and the holidays.

Livingston Parish has a rich history, settled by French and Spanish colonists in the early 1700s. The Cajun spirit is reflected in the region with its eclectic mix of restaurants and bars on the water, which are typically open March through September.

The Amite and Tickfaw rivers make up Livingston Parish, creating a winding waterway heavily wooded with cypress trees. The river and tributaries are about 15 to 20 feet deep, and shallow areas are clearly marked.

Professional angler Alex Heintze was born and raised in Denham Springs, Louisiana, part of the Livingston Parish, and said there is a variety of species. Fishermen can hook largemouth bass, spotted bass, crappies, bream and catfish. Heintze said for sportfishing most anglers target bass and catfish.

On The Bayouw
The Tickfaw and Blood rivers have plenty of scenery with an eclectic mix of buildings.

Depending on the time of day, Heintze recommends “crate base better bait on a moving bait” and later in the day “a lot of D Bombs, small jigs and small trick worms.”

“There is a huge morning bite down here,” Heintze said. “The main issue, depending what river you’re on, it just depends on the boat traffic you’re going to get. That’s when you’ve got to tuck back into some of the sloughs and kind of get out of the way or just focus on that morning bite and the evening bite.”

While Livingston Parish is home to the country’s second largest Bass Pro Shop, boat rental shops are rare so you should plan on hauling your own boat. The rivers are freshwater with brackish water at Lake Pontchartrain.

Livingston Parish offers abundant public launch ramps, as well as private ramps including the Canal Bank Club on the Blind River and the Hill Top Inn restaurant in Maurepas.

Sun Bunw
Sun Bun Bar & Grill is only accessible by boat but offers a water taxi from a nearby highway.

“Hilltop is a very good one to launch at–it’s a nice place,” Heintze said. “They do have the Hilltop restaurant right there so if you want to go boat riding, fishing, you can always come back and eat right there.”

A freshwater or saltwater fishing permit is a must, and the wildlife agents are active on the rivers. A five-day pass runs $30 or $68 a year for nonresidents.

If visiting waterfront establishments is more your boating adventure, the Livingston Parish area offers plenty. The restaurants and bars reflect the spirit of the area. Wood and materials for the buildings often come from the nearby groves.

Prop Stopw
The Prop Inn Stop offers its famous “Worm Bucket” drink and live music when the season gets underway.

Prop Stop Inn on the Tickfaw River and Sun Buns Bar & Grill are only accessible by boat, though Sun Buns offers a water taxi from the Highway 51 side. Both places are busy on the weekends and will usually have large tie-ups, so if that isn’t your thing, plan accordingly.

Other waterfront restaurant stops worth visiting include The Anchor and T Rivers Bar & Grill, both located in Madisonville. A couple of places worth visiting on the Tickfaw River are Boopalu’s Bar and Grill and Tiny Lizzys Bar (slated to reopen). Pick a great spot, a cool drink and watch the boats cruise past.

Nearby Blood River Landing is a private marina but is open to the public once a year for the Tickfaw 200 poker run in early May. The centerpiece is the “Fun House,” a bar and stage that reflects the eclectic nature of the region.

Fun Housew
Blood River Landing’s “Fun House” is only open to the public once a year during the Tickfaw 200. The late Charlie Albert built the Fun House and hanging from the rafters are items he found or were given to him.

On land, Center Console Life editors had a chance to stop by Bayhi’s Landing in Springfield for lunch. Crawfish (when in season), charbroiled oysters, Dungeness crab and Cajun classics such as po boys and red beans and rice are on the menu.

When it comes to hotel accommodations, it requires planning ahead, especially during busy weekends and holidays. Abels said the area has “phenomenal campgrounds” that offer space for motorhomes and cabins.

The Villas at Carter Plantation in Springfield is situated about halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and located on a championship golf course. Most of the hotel rooms are either in Denham Springs or Walker. An added perk for staying in Denham Springs is the downtown area features an award-winning antique district.

Crawfishw
Seafood is always on the menu at Bayh’s Landing in Springfield, La., including crawfish when it’s in season.

New Orleans is an easy drive for daytrips and while there are few better tourist destinations than the Big Easy, Livingston Parish is a great lowkey alternative. Just like New Orleans, Livingston Parish has plenty of great restaurants. Bring your appetite.

“Seafood is probably our biggest seller here and we’re known for our barbecue,” said Abels, who was born and raised in the Livingston Parish region. “If you like shrimp, crab, crawfish or oysters, you’ll be very happy.”