Capt. Jack Payne of Sweetwater Marina and Guide Service doesn’t particularly care for cold, wintery weather.
In fact, he hates it.
The silver lining for him is the ridiculously good speckled trout action this time of year. Payne spends many frigid days jigging the deep water of Delacroix 10 minutes from his full-service marina.
“On super-cold days, bottom fishing is definitely better for me,” he said. “I concentrate on deep bayous and hooks in the bayou where it drops off.”
Payne said boat positioning is critical when you’re fishing those deep holes.
“When I’m fishing at the big drop-offs where they meet the bank, and it drops off to 15 feet, I usually anchor my boat up against the marsh right up in the deepest part, and just drop straight down and fish in the channel,” Payne said.
More times than not, particularly if he has clients, Payne throws live shrimp.
“Live shrimp is the No. 1 bait,” he said, noting that Sweetwater Marina always keeps a good supply. “If you don’t want to use live shrimp, plastic on the bottom works well, too.”
Even though fish relate to the bottom after a front, Payne doesn’t necessarily like to use a bowling ball to get down there.
“If it’s a light current, I like to use a ¼-ounce sinker,” Payne said. “I catch them a lot of times as the bait is (sinking) down to the bottom slowly after I cast out.”
A lot of successive fronts have to blow through the area to really kill the speckled trout action, the veteran guide explained.
“Once the water gets below 50 degrees, it gets really hard to catch speckled trout,” Payne said. “As long as it’s above 50, it’s on.”
When warmer days come and the heavy coats come off, trout abandon the deep water. Instead, they move to major lakes and bays close to deep water.
Payne suggested areas like Skippy Lake, Four-Horse Lake and Lake Batola as places to try when the weather warms up.
“I like to fish right at the mouth of the bayou where the water starts coming back up to about 4 feet,” he said.
Payne fishes these areas with live shrimp under popping corks.