The Mermentau River’s “Old River” has been giving up beaucoup redfish this winter — and shows no signs of slowing down in January. 

“Man, we’ve been smoking them, catching redfish in the river ... but I focus on drains coming out of the marshes,” veteran charter boat captain Vince Theriot of Grand Chenier said.

“Outgoing tides are the best and there are several locations along the old river that are payoff spots,”  he said. 

Theriot, who owns Coastal Guide Service (337-540-6048), lives near the Mermentau River and doesn’t have to go far to wet a line in the river that gives up redfish and speckled trout regularly in lower Cameron Parish. 

Usually, before he heads to the “Old River” — if he can catch the tide starting to move out and favorable water conditions — he’ll target redfish along the trestles of the Mermentau River Bridge (Louisiana 82).

After that, he’ll make his move. 

“Old River” is located about a quarter-mile south of the bridge on the west bank. Start looking for the mouth when you get across from the old Crain Bros. dock, which is on the east bank, and turn right. Motor about 3 or 4 miles and fish all the drains. The redfish usually are stacked up at one or more of those spots.

Theriot cautioned boaters to follow the crab traps that mark the channel along that shallow waterway. Otherwise, your boat could be beached.

“Going down Old River is kind of tricky. You’ve got to follow the crab traps. You don’t want to get out of the trail. As you’re going along, there are several spots. Just fish those drains,” he said.

He catches plenty of redfish, mostly 18 to 20 inches long, on an Egret Wedgetail soft plastic.

“If the water’s clear enough, fish something that matches the baitfish. I’ll fish that 4-inch Wedgetail, chicken-on-a-chain or anything that kind of matches the baitfish,” he said.

He also fishes with similarly colored Egrets Mambo Mullets, he said.

When the redfish turn their nose up at those two soft plastics, his go-to artificial lure is a whitish or shrimp-colored 4-inch Gulp Shrimp.

Position the boat so that you can cast to where the water is coming out of the drain, he advised. Most of the time redfish are close to the bottom this time of year..

Quite often larger reds provide a lot of action and fun — bulls from 15 to 20 pounds also sock those baits.

“They’re too big to keep, but they are a lot of fun to catch,”  Theriot said.