The calendar might still say it’s March, but longtime Grand Isle speckled trout angler Tommy Vidrine said the fish are already acting like it’s mid- to late-April.
Vidrine, an independent contractor for Aflac in Baton Rouge who spends as much time as possible fishing on Grand Isle, said a weekend trip to the Caminada Pass jetties on Saturday produced some hammer trout — including a 5-pounder he released to spawn.
“I think it’s a about a month ahead,” Vidrine said. “I’ve never been in the front in the Gulf in March and caught big fish ever in my life — and I’ve been fishing there a long time.”
Combined with a winter that never really happened — and a recent run of warm days —Vidrine said the next few weeks this spring could be extra-special trout-wise.
“Every day it’s 80 degrees, I think there’ll be thousands more coming,” he said. “So the first best opportunity to get them is when there’s no pressure. I always say the best time will probably be now through May 1 as far as big fish.”
But there’s no live bait to be had around the island yet, so Vidrine said plastics are the way to go right now.
“I would say using a swimbait and a Vudu shrimp under a cork — those are the two easiest ways to be successful right now,” he said. “The water temperature is still good enough to catch them on plastics. It’s when all the bait arrives and there’s so much in the water — that’s when it gets tougher to catch them on plastics.
“Right now the live bait isn’t abundant like it will be in another month.”
Over oyster reefs and along the shallow rocks on the back side of the island are ideal for a Vudu shrimp under a popping cork, he said. At the jetties, Vidrine’s choice is the 3-inch Tsunami Swim Minnow that can make its way down to the 10-foot depths there where big trout are lurking in the rocks to ambush prey.
“I think that’s the best overall bait for weekend warriors right now,” Vidrine said. “You can just throw it out there and retrieve it slow, and catch fish.”
As spring progresses, Vidrine said he is releasing 4-pound-plus fish — at least until tournament time rolls around.
“I like for them to go lay their eggs,” he said. “If they’re over 5 pounds, I say let them grow until we have the rodeos. I’ve been advocating that for a couple of years, and this year I’m doing it more than ever.”
With temperatures approaching the mid-80s this week, Vidrine said he wouldn’t be surprised if you might even be able to catch some trout in the surf now.
“The Gulf temperature is 70 or 72 degrees, so when that tide is coming in, that’s 72-degree water coming in,” he said. “I didn’t try on the beach, but I wouldn’t doubt they had fish in the surf. Just start looking for some shrimp and some birds — it’s been that warm.”