Cocodrie and Dularge guide Capt. Tommy Pellegrin isn’t necessarily a bait guru, but he pays close attention to what lure is on the end of his line this time of year.

“You want to throw a little bit of everything,” Pellegrin said. “In the open water, the birds are going to start diving, and you want to use clear colors. If you’re fishing shell reefs in water that’s not moving as much, dark colors work well.”

If he had to choose one lure and color to fish for the rest of his life, Pellegrin would most likely pick a coastal candy-colored Berkley Rattle Shrimp.

“You can get away with that 12 months a year,” he said. “That’s my No.1 search-and-destroy bait. If there’s a trout around, you’re going to get a hit.”

Pellegrin said getting the hook out of the fish’s mouth by hand isn’t usually an option.

“You’d better have some pliers because when they eat it, it’s down their throat,” he said. “You’ll miss very few fish hoisting them in the boat. They hit it just like a live shrimp.”

The correct lures, of course, won’t help you in the least if you can’t locate the fish, and understanding the transitional pattern is key this time of year, according to Pellegrin.

“We fish reefs in the outer inside area — the lakes and bays between the interior marshes and the islands,” he said. “In the wintertime, they’re in the interior marshes, and in the summertime, they’re out by the islands.

“It’s a migration pattern for them to move from the inside to the outside.”

Hot areas, Pellegrin suggested, are Lake Mechant and Sister Lake out of Dularge, as well as Lake Pelto and Lake Barre out of Cocodrie.

“You want to fish shallow flats with shell,” he advised. “That’s the water that warms up the quickest. Deeper water now is a little cooler.”

When fishing the lakes, Pellegrin pays close attention to the current.

“If you look on the point, you’ll see the strong area of tide, but you’ll also see the eddy and calm areas next to it that have the shell and 3 or 4-feet of water — that’s where you want to concentrate on,” he said.

“You don’t want the tide to be rushing really hard because the shrimp don’t hang in hard moving tide.”