Throughout the year, finding bait is essential to catching fish, but Lafitte guide Capt. Lane Zimmer feels it’s especially important to locate shrimp in May when targeting speckled trout.

“We should see the shrimp come out the marsh at that time, and the birds should start diving,” he said. “In (March) there were shrimp the size of your thumbnail coming out of the marsh. By May, those shrimp ought to be big enough to be popping out the water to where (trout) can see them.”

Zimmer targets Barataria Bay this time of year. The guide suspects the fish will be thick in the outside waters with the mild winter we had.

“This year, with everything being warm, it’s going to be early,” he said. “In May, we’re going to be in (Barataria) Bay for sure.”

 When fishing there, Zimmer targets underwater structures.

“You want to look for a hard bottom,” he said. “Oyster reefs, shell reefs and points with shells are what’s going to hold fish in May.”

Zimmer targets these places with shrimp-colored soft-plastics 2 feet under corks.

The veteran guide strategically attacks the reefs.

“The first thing I do is figure out what the tide is doing — if it’s coming in and which way it’s going over the reef,” he said. “Wherever the water is breaking, I’m going to try to fish in front of there first. If they’re not there, I’m going to fish on the down-current side.”

With so many reefs to fish in Barataria Bay, Zimmer doesn’t spend all day at one.

“I’ll make five or six casts on the up-current side, five or six casts on the down-current side, and if we don’t get a take-down, they’re not there,” he said. “I don’t spend a whole lot of time searching for fish in any one spot. If they’re on that reef, they’re going to be there in numbers.”

On days when it’s calm enough, Zimmer looks for diving birds, and is particular about how he approaches them.

“I’m going to get upwind from the birds and drift into them,” he said. “I won’t touch the big motor or trolling motor.

“When I get within casting range, I’ll put the Power-Poles down slowly and stop as quietly as I can so I don’t spook the fish.”

Speckled trout feasting on shrimp with hovering birds underneath are certainly not picky eaters. Zimmer throws any soft-plastic under a cork, although he said it doesn’t hurt to stick with shrimp-colored ones.