July 2012 - Volume 32, Number 7

Features

Sometimes it just makes sense to take smaller-antlered bucks, particularly when those deer are interfering with the goal of harvesting large-racked bucks.

In today’s age of whitetail management the understanding and practice of mandatory antler restrictions is under way. This approach primarily allows yearling bucks protection so the animals can reach whitetail maturity with sizeable racks, as well as sound age structures and buck-to-doe ratios.

Hunters afield are also starting to pass on legally harvestable bucks — giving these deer the opportunity to reach full antler growth.

Just because the tides aren’t rolling doesn’t mean trout won’t bite. Here are some tips on how to put fish in the boat, even on wimpy tides.

The broad-chested guy sitting in the driver’s seat of the big Ford pick-up cleared his throat, as if preparing to speak. I glanced over at him. In the dark, the glow from the truck’s dash lights made his chiseled features appear even sharper.

“We sure picked a bad day,” he said quietly, as if preparing me for the worst. “The tide is really rough.

“We have only a .08 (foot) tide range — not a .8, but a .08. I don’t know if I’ve ever fished anything less than a .1 before.”

“But,” I thought to myself, “Brandon Carter can overcome that. He’s a famous speckled trout guide.”

This lifelong Cross Lake fisherman has a different twist that keeps his freezer stuffed with catfish.

Some people think Charles Citrano is just a little bit crazy. But the way he sees it, he’s just somebody who always has catfish fillets in his freezer.

You see, Citrano isn’t your typical Cross Lake catfish angler. Oh, he’ll get out there and drift-fish Hicks Pocket all day long when the weather is nice and sunny, but the crazy part comes into play when Shreveport is the recipient of extremely heavy rain.

“I’m not talking about little sprinkles here,” Citrano said. “I’m talking about at least an inch and a half to 3 inches. The worse the weather is the better the catfish bite.

Southcentral anglers head offshore to find trout teeming around the rigs south of Vermilion Bay.

Everywhere I go, I seem to bump into Casey McLaurin, director of operations for Acadiana Outfitters, a high-end specialty outdoor retailer located on the outskirts of New Iberia. Casey loves to fish for speckled trout and he loves to duck hunt, so our talk always turns to one of the two subjects.

He is only 34 years old, young for so much responsibility, but I listen to him carefully.

Good thing.

Grand Isle’s Caminada Pass bridge is the place to go for summertime crab and trout action — no boat necessary.

After spending a hot summer day searching for speckled trout in the surf, the cool sea breeze felt good as I strolled down the old wooden bridge among a crowd of people after dark.

Singles, couples and families were lined up side by side along the railing, and the smell of grilled food hung in the air as a country tune played on a distant boom box.

Instead of allowing stiff winds to ruin your Hopedale fishing trip, have an alternative plan — and put plenty of trout in the boat.

It’s a scenario every angler is familiar with. You heard the fish were biting in the outside waters at the islands and rigs just off the coast. According to all the reports, the action has been spectacular. The fish have been large and plentiful, and so cooperative even mediocre fishermen like your brother-in-law, Clyde, are coming home with limits of whoppers.

You’re drooling at the prospect of bent rods and tight lines, and you have a day off coming up to get out into the middle of the fray.

You plan your fishing trip carefully, knowing exactly what you plan to do: Get to the launch, load up the live baitwell and head straight to the outside, without getting distracted by diving birds or tempting spots on the inside.

Want to get away from the crowds? Head for the Lake Pontchartrain reefs, and catch boatloads of fish.

I watched what seemed to be an unending parade of barges filled with mountains of crushed concrete arrive and dump their contents onto the lake floor to create a five-acre artificial reef, all from the back porch of my home on Lake Pontchartrain’s Northshore.

This new reef, near the train tressel in eastern Lake Pontchartrain, would join several other artificial reefs scattered across the lake serving as prime fish-holding habitat.

Oyster Bayou is out of the way, and can be hit and miss, but it also can bail out trout anglers struggling to limit out.

Capt. Marty LaCoste with Absolute Fishing Charters exited the mouth of Bayou DuLarge at Pelican Pass. Only this time, rather than pointing his bay boat toward more-familiar destinations like Coon Point and the Mardi Gras rig, he turned sharply toward the west and ran the coastline toward the often-overlooked Oyster Bayou.

LaCoste spotted some action on the surface as he neared his destination and soon realized he was looking at speckled trout jumping out of the water to eat shrimp that were doing the same.

When bass don’t feel like moving, make it easy for them by slowing down.

When largemouth bass play hard to get, it’s time to pull out the clichéd yet profoundly applicable allusion of the tortoise and the hare.

No doubt, when extreme heat, extreme cold or a high level of fishing pressure has the fish turning their backs to reaction baits, your most productive strategy is go slow and steady.

Winter is the natural thought here, as lower metabolism keeps the fish in slow mode for several months. However, summer months also need a slow-down, as lower dissolved oxygen in the water puts fish in a sluggish mood.

Head to Vermilion Bay’s Trash Pile to clean up on fish of all species.

Making a clean sweep seems to always make things feel a little fresher.

And sweeping up a mess of redfish, flounder, black drum and speckled trout at a spot near Weeks Bay called the “Trash Pile” is a good way to do a little housekeeping this summer.

Someone who knows a thing or two about housekeeping is Eddie Darce. Darce and his wife Cindy are co-owners of “Cuddin Eddie’s Pepper Relish Products,” where cleaning up following a long day of cooking is the norm.

Whether you fish the marshes at the mouth of the Mississippi River or head out to Breton Sound, Venice is the best jumping-off point in the world.

Pelayo eased back on the throttle, and we idled toward shore at (what’s left) of Grand Gosier Island. We gaped at water that looked more like Destin’s Crab Island or the Florida Keys than anything usually within reach of a Louisiana marina.

Legendary Breton Sound “speck-chaser” Johnny Morise and his crew had beat us out this morning. Morise was waist deep in the emerald water, cranking his reel and twitching his topwater Badonk-a-Donk.

He stopped, looked over and waved frantically.

“Man!” he yelled. “This waaaw-daw sure don’t look like when we’re wade fishing outta Grand or Elmer’s island!”

July is when trout seem to be everywherere along the coast, while bass anglers can find hot-weather success by modifying their tactics.