Grand Isle anglers will be seeing red this month — but that’s a good thing if reeling in hard charging, drag-screaming bull reds is what you’re after.
Capt. Keith “Herk” Bergeron with Pair-A-Dice Charters on the island, said speckled trout should continue in a typical summer pattern in September — but don’t be surprised if you wind up tangling with some big bull reds who have moved in nearshore to spawn.
“If you want to target bull reds, fish with a whole crab on a big rod in Caminada Pass …. The water just about turns orange with those things,” Bergeron said with a chuckle. “When they grab it, it’s on. Lock down the drag and get ready, because it’s going to be down in their throat pretty much every time.”
Bergeron is not a fan of cracking off the crab’s shell and then cutting the crustacean into pieces. He likes to use the whole crab Carolina-rigged with a 1-ounce weight, with a few minor modifications.
“If you break the crab’s back off, pinfish and croakers and catfish suck the meat out of the shell so fast you can’t get a redfish to bite,” he said. “I use a big J hook, sink it into the joint of the back paddle leg where it goes into the body and then come out the top of the shell — so I’m getting a really good hook through-and-through the crab itself.
“Then I break the two points off the crab shell, and the two big claws — that way the crab can’t defend itself. The redfish crush the crab in their throat, so if you break the two points off, it’s less work for them and they swallow it quicker.”
But if running with the bulls isn’t your thing and speckled trout are what you’re after, Bergeron said to target deeper water either early or late in the day.
“We’re still going to be fishing deeper structure like the first rigs offshore, the East Timbalier rocks and any deep reefs in the back in about 6 to 8 feet of water,” he said. “The fish are going to bite from daylight until about 9 or 10 o’clock, then it gets tough. They’ll bite again in the late afternoon.”
Around structure, Bergeron favors live shrimp or croakers under a popping cork — as long as they’re available.
“We’re going to be using live bait as long as Buggy (Vegas at Bridge Side Marina) supplies it,” he said. “If he starts getting to where he can’t catch the croakers, we’ll start using the shrimp and plastics around October.”
On the beach, he like a heavy Carolina rig so his customers can cast far enough to reach the targeted trough or sandbar.
“Those big trout don’t hardly leave the beach. It’s just if you can get out there and catch them,” Bergeron said. “We might start getting more storm activity everyday and if it’s rough and muddy, you just can’t go out there.”
In areas like Timbalier around rocks, Bergeron favors free-lining live bait to avoid the snags.
“If you use a weight it just falls between the rocks and you can’t get it out,” he said. “And around the rigs, we’ll use a ½- or ¾-ounce weight just to get it down.”