Even though the Mississippi River is expected to crest late next week at 16 ½ feet — just below minor flood stage — the speckled trout bite down in Venice hasn’t been hampered so far by the high water.
In fact, Capt. Brandon Carter with Reel Shot Guide Service said an elevated river — right now it’s over 14 feet — sometimes can actually make locating trout a little bit easier.
“All that rain from up north is starting to come down, but that’s nothing new for us. Our fish are used to it and we’re used to it, but it scares people. They start hearing about the river stage, but sometimes that actually can kind of help the fishing,” Carter said. “If the river is too low, the fish can really be anywhere — just scattered all over the place.
“But when we have a little mud pushing out, it pockets those fish up into certain spots and makes things a little more predictable.”
May is well known as a big-trout month in Venice, and while Carter has yet to see any 8- or 9-pounders reeled in so far, he said the overall size of the fish and the consistency of the bite have been the best he’s seen in at least seven years.
“We’ve had a few days where you peck, peck, peck, peck and nothing is happening. And all of sudden there they are,” he said. “On one of my best days of the year, we didn’t catch a trout all morning long — not a single trout. I left and went snapper fishing, we caught our limit of snapper and came back inshore about 11:30 or so, and at noon I pulled up on a spot.
“By 1 o’clock, we left with 75 monster specks — including three fish over 6 pounds and a slew of 4s and 5s.”
The guide texted a photo of a 7-pound speck caught by Poonie Thibeaux in the Bayou Donquita area Wednesday morning on live shrimp under a cork. Carter said some fish are still being caught on plastics, but much of the damage is coming from shrimp.
“I guess it’s kind of typical for mid-May. There are some fish outside, and some fish that are inside,” he said. “There’s not a lot of spots outside that are really producing — it’s very isolated on certain spots. On the inside, there are a lot of fish scattered all through the bays.”
He said the forecast for southeast winds later this week were a double-edged sword for specks.
“It brings in saltier water, but it also raises the water level and makes the fishing a little tougher when that water level gets up a little higher, especially for redfish because they’ll go way back up in the cane,” he said. “Even the trout tend to get a little funny when you get that higher water level like that.”
But with the fish still pretty spread out, Carter said lots of different spots are producing.
“Breton Island hasn’t done much yet, but it’s due to start turning on soon. The ends of all the passes are going to be good. Blind Bay, South Pass, even down around Southwest Pass out to the west over toward Empire, along the beaches — off and on just about every spot is producing,” he said. “You just have to be prepared to make a move, but don’t get to running around too much and leave a spot that may have some potential.
“You have to go out there, figure out what’s going on, read the conditions, take what you’re given and make it work.”