After an extra warm early winter, South Central Louisiana anglers still realize a big chill could drive speckled trout from the lakes and other shallow water areas into their winter holes.

Bill Lake of Houma, a veteran charter boat captain, anticipates traveling to some of his favorite deep holes in the Dularge area to bring in speckled trout in January. They are located just past the north shoreline of Lake Mechant in what locals call the Deer Bayou/Little Deuce area, a network of deeper waterways.

Lake, who owns Bayou Guide Service (985) 851-6015, said, “We’ve been busting up those speckled trout (during the balmy weather). It’s really great the past few week, lots of fish.”

That was in December, after a third straight week of warm weather in the region. However, two cold fronts arrived and changed the game. 

“They’ll be moving into a deep pattern after these (cold fronts),” he said. “That’s alright. We know what to do.

“January’s so damn tricky. Fish definitely won’t be in the spots we’re catching now. They’ll strictly be in dead-end canals and pipeline canals and one place sticks in my mind,” he said, referring to the Deer Bayou/Little Deuce area.

“It’s one of the best places to fish in January in our area. To get into the system you have to go into Deer Bayou north from Lake Mechant. Those canals are deep, with 8 to 10 feet of water. They’re easy to get to, navigable and safe. You don’t have to worry about shallow water.”

Lake, however, did issue a warning to anglers: Stay in the canals and don’t venture into the adjacent marsh, because they are private lands. And if a boater travels far enough north, there are gates put up years ago to block entrance into those waterways.

The wintertime hotspot is about a 15- to 20-minute boat ride from Jug’s Boat Launch at the end of Louisiana 315, Lake said. Go due south on Bayou Dularge for about 5 miles and take the first right into Mud Lake. Cross Mud Lake heading due north and when you get into Lake Mechant, go north hugging the east shoreline — which will take you right into Deer Bayou.

“The good thing about fishing there is you’re protected from the wind,” Lake said.

When you get there, it’s time to break out the soft plastic swimbaits. Why? The shrimp won’t be around any longer and the speckled trout are feeding on fish, switching their diet from the crustaceans to baitfish.

The first thing he usually offers is Egret’s new Vudu Vixen, a 3-inch soft plastic that “is tough as hell” and catches dozens of speckled trout.

“It’s a great bait to target fish with in January,” he said.

He also uses Tsunami and H&H swimbaits in glow/chartreuse and bunker (brown/black spots).

Whatever swimbait he has tied on, he works it slowly in the middle of the bayou, touching the bottom if he must to trigger a strike.

On warmer days, soft plastics under a popping cork can nail the speckled trout, too, if the water temperature is in the upper 50s or higher. Lake fishes with a glow/chartreuse or purple/chartreuse Bayou Chub Minnow then.

Just don’t expect to be alone.

“It does get crowded on weekends, just like anywhere else,” he said.