Speckled trout fishermen don’t have to go far from the Quintana Canal Boat Landing to catch fish in Vermilion Bay this month.
A Lydia charter boat captain often motors about 200 yards from the mouth of the canal and starts fishing right there, usually trolling with soft plastics as he heads south in The Cove.
Brian Romero, who owns Smokin’ Reel Charters, will pass over a few of his choice spots before the row of camps begins near the end of Cypremort Point.
The Cove is notorious for giving up speckled trout in the late fall and early winter, and into January if we’re lucky and the fish stay inside past Christmas.
When water and wind conditions are right, limits of speckled trout can be caught starting any time now.
“Speckled trout in The Cove and Weeks Bay should be pretty much kicking by the end of October,” Romero, said.
The Cove isn’t a secret spot by any means. Boats from all across Acadiana visit the speckled trout sweet spot in Vermilion Bay.
But that’s because there are plenty of fish to go around.
“Toward the middle of October, it shouldn’t be a problem for anybody to catch fish,” Romero said. “They should be on at that time. You’ll know if they’re catching: They’ll have 100 boats out there.
“Wherever the boats are piled up, the fish are there. The Cove should be the most-consistent spot of any place.”
Draw a line from the end of Cypremort Point to Blue Point to just east of the mouth of Quintana Canal and, basically, that’s what Romero broadly considers The Cove — including the mouth of Shark Bayou and the mouth of Bayou Pierre.
He includes the latest artificial reef, a spot that should give up fish.
“That new reef they put in there a couple years ago should start producing speckled trout,” Romero said. “You’ll have to fish a little deeper with a Carolina-rigged live shrimp or live croaker.”
But most of the action takes place in The Cove.
Romero will have his eye on some red-hot redfish fishing spots this fall and winter, too, because the success has been awesome, mostly in the reefs and along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline of Marsh Island.
It’s been unbelievable there and in Southwest Pass, he said, noting he’s never seen so many redfish just under the legal size.
It bodes well for 2017, he said.
“There’s so many redfish out there it’s unbelievable — a lot of undersized redfish. Right now we’re catching redfish every cast,” Romero said. “It’s full of juvenile redfish. If they just grow 2 inches it looks like it’ll be a great year next year.”
Most of the redfish he’s been putting in the boat are falling for shrimp under popping corks.
However, speckled trout is the main target for hundreds of anglers, many of whom wet a line in The Cove.
Much of the action happens in front and north of the camps and their respective piers. A lot of anglers like to fish from just outside a small cove along the east shoreline of The Cove all the way back to the mouth of Quintana Canal, targeting 4- to 6-foot depths.
Some of Romero’s best days have come while trolling soft plastics and hard baits at idle speed with two or three fishing rods out.
“What you’re really after is how deep and where,” he said. “When you catch one, stop and fan-cast in all directions.”
An old standby among veteran trollers is a MirrOlure.
Romero also has caught fish on chrome Rat-L-Traps.
Otherwise, when he stops to fish an area, he likes live shrimp or a trout tout — glow with a fluorescent green or orange tail — on a 3/8-ounce leadhead. Just bounce that or any soft plastic, including avocado, black, black/chartreuse and purple/chartreuse, off the bottom or slowly drag it back on the retrieve.
Soft plastic swim baits have been accounting for more and more speckled trout each succeeding season, too.
Also, early and late it’s hard to beat topwaters such as She Dogs and other MirrOlures — white/red head.
Fall and early winter also is a time the birds start picking over the marauding speckled trout.
“I think the birds should start babbin’ at that time, mostly late evening, early morning,” he said. “Fish under them.”
The bird pattern has been changing, though, he said. Much of the time these days they just sit and float over the hotspots.
“They’re getting smarter,” Romero said. “They pick off the shrimp as the fish push them to the top. Birds are changing with the times.
“We catch a lot of fish under the birds just sitting on the water. They know the fish are under there and are waiting for the boat to come to the top.”