April 2010 - Volume 30, Number 4


The winter was cold and very rainy. That’ll have an impact on this year’s speckled trout numbers.

My grandfather told me that people who rub crystal balls must sometimes eat glass. When one rubs the ball this year to get a prediction on the upcoming speckled trout season, he almost gets the feeling that it might be better to just eat the glass up front and give up on the rubbing. What has been a cold, wet winter has thrown something of a shadow over the 2010 speckled trout season.

Looking for the main dish for a weekend fish fry? Then head to Lake Salve, where the cats are big and eager to strike.

“Bully, bullyyy,” chanted my fishing partner Joey Ratcliff almost to the tune of the old Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs 1965 hit Wooly Bully after he grunted hooking a big blue catfish.

If you think of that hunk of foam above your bait as just a float — rather than an attractant — you won’t catch near the fish you could.

Capt. Theophile Bourgeois pulled his camouflage neck gaiter above his lips before he started talking. Trying to hear what he said through the gaiter, over the growl of his outboard and through the hood of my own 100 m.p.h. rain suit was difficult. I put in more effort than I do when my wife starts talking during a Saints game, but I heard just as little.

This crew goes toe to toe with wicked catfish in the swamps of Terrebonne Parish.

In the dense night air of the remote northwestern Terrebonne Parish freshwater marsh-swamp, gills might have been more appropriate for breathing than lungs. The searing surge of light from the Q-beam illuminated a big white styrofoam float bobbing and dancing ahead on the surface of the still bayou water.

It was a drizzly, miserable December 2009 night in Marrero, a small river town across from New Orleans on the west bank of the Mississippi River.

Drown some grass shrimp around Bayou Lacombe’s grass beds this time of year, and you’re liable to catch just about anything.

The kayak was a definite tip-off. The fly rod even more so. Now while Eddie and Pelayo talked him up after we parked behind him on Lacombe’s Lake Road, I nonchalantly slipped around to the back of his Prius to view the obligatory “HOPE” bumper sticker.

Everyone agrees the waters off the Louisiana coast are teeming with red snapper, but still, anglers will have a painfully short season this year. Why is that?

The red snapper fishery off the Louisiana coast was once a dream world that lured a new captain named Tommy Pellegrin into making a living pulling the succulent fish from around the many rigs and wrecks littering the Gulf.

Every April, trout join this water body’s namesake to usher in spring to the Venice area.

Venice is the most intimidating place to fish in all of coastal Louisiana — so much water, so much wind, so many ship wakes, so many dangerous sand bars and mud flats.

Thinking of throwing that small bass back? If so, you’re actually doing more harm to the resource than good.

Old habits die hard. Don’t believe me? Go ask Bass Anglers Sportsman Society founder Ray Scott, who spearheaded the catch-and-release phenomenon in the 1970s how much trouble he had convincing a bunch of backwoods bubbas to release bass back into Lake Guntersville rather than “Lake Crisco.”

Scott finally had success — perhaps too much of it.

This retired biologist makes a case for the late season being the best time of the year — provided you’ve already written your check to Uncle Sam.

My story begins a week prior to the opening of the 2009 turkey season. I had not had the opportunity to scout and listen for gobbling activity on the small tract of land in East Feliciana Parish that I hunt, so the Friday before the youth weekend, I left Baton Rouge with the my cameras in hopes of hearing and photographing some turkeys.

Fish are on the move this month, and you should be as well.

Spring has sprung, and that means speckled trout are either on the move to the bigger fringe bays, or they’re already there.

After a cold, wet winter, anglers are dying to get after some speckled trout. But will the trout be there to welcome anglers to springtime?