If you put in enough time out on the water, you know that some days are all about catching — and some days are all about fishing.
Monday was definitely one of those fishing days out of Grand Isle.
After a line of severe weather featuring hours of crackling lightning and rolling thunder dumped more than 2 inches of rain on the island early Monday morning, Capt. Eddie Berthelot Jr. took off from Bridge Side Marina around 6:30 and headed west to the beaches of Elmer’s Island, the Fourchon barges and eventually the rocks of Belle Pass.
With a livewell full of shrimp and croakers, our plan was to target specks by free-lining, fishing under a cork and using a Carolina rig — and with clean water at our first stop on the beach, things looked promising.
In fact, Berthelot hooked up with a nice speck on his second cast, and we were off and rolling.
Unfortunately, almost five hours and countless casts later, that lone unlucky speck would be our only keeper trout of the trip. Of three other guides he spoke with Monday morning, none had more than eight specks aboard by 10 a.m.
“That kind of tells you right there it was a slow bite today,” said Berthelot, with Spots & Specks Charters. “We gave them the top, we gave them the bottom, we gave them the croakers and we gave them the shrimp — and we still failed miserably.”
Berthelot suspects big numbers of specks moved off the beaches when Tropical Storm Cindy buffeted the island with solid 40 to 50 mph gusts last week. And Monday’s marine forecast, which called for northeast winds at 5 mph but actually featured southeast winds up to 15, didn’t help our cause, either.
“The dirty water on the beaches I believe pushed the big trout back up in the marsh or further offshore to get away from that turbulent water,” said Berthelot, who recounted details of a redfish trip he took last Friday to the marshes in Golden Meadow after the storm blew through. “We ended up catching some nice 2 ½- to 3-pound trout in 18 inches of water. That flabbergasted me to see that under a cork in the duck ponds.
“We were fishing for redfish, and we’d reel ‘em up and throw a big old trout in the boat.”
Berthelot said he caught decent numbers of specks along the beaches on both Saturday and Sunday, but noticed the bite had shifted a little later, closer to 9:30 or 10 a.m.
“You could tell the fish were there, but they were still lethargic,” he said. “It wasn’t a heavy bite — they weren’t attacking the croakers. They’d put them in their mouths and kind of walk away with it.”
One thing noticeably missing from the equation Monday morning was any presence of bait, Berthelot said.
“One of the things I constantly look for when I’m running my boat is bait on the surface — shrimp, pogies, glass minnows or mullet — anything that would come out of the water and show trout in the area,” he said. “We just didn’t see that Monday.”
But he’s confident the hot trout bite Grand Isle was enjoying before Cindy’s unwelcome visit will eventually return.
“I would say the bite is going to come back later this week. Five to seven days after a storm they’re pretty much back to where they had been,” Berthelot said. “I believe we’ll get them back on the beach for another three to six weeks, then they’ll start transitioning back to the marsh.
“It’s just a matter of time for them to find the clear water so they can head back to where they were.”
On a bright note, there weren’t many fish to clean Monday afternoon. In addition to the lone trout, we put a single sheepshead in the box along the Fourchon rocks.
“That’s why they call it fishing and not catching,” Berthelot said with a rueful smile. “It’s not everyday you have a consistent bite. It happens to everybody.”