In a typical January, Grand Isle speckled trout angler Tommy Vidrine knows roadside hot spots along Highway 1 will usually produce some nice fish.
But so far this winter, somebody apparently forgot to tell that to the trout.
At least through mid-December, the script was flipped, and roadside anglers weren’t having much success — but some nice specks were still being caught out at the Fourchon barges and along the Caminada Pass jetties.
“It hasn’t been typical so far this year,” Vidrine said. “I’ve got friends of mine fishing the side of the road that are really good at it who live on the island, and they went after some cold fronts and caught nothing,” he said. “And I left them biting at the jetties and the Fourchon barges like it was springtime. I’ve been catching some 4 ½ pound fish in December — it’s been awesome.”
Vidrine said water temperatures stayed relatively warm right up until some strong cold fronts arrived, and shrimp are still in the pass — two potential reasons why specks didn’t make their usual gradual move inside.
“Buggie (Vegas at Bridge Side Marina) has still been catching live shrimp,” Vidrine said in mid-December. “The last two years, he didn’t have live shrimp right now. So the shrimp are in the pass, and as long as the shrimp are in the pass, guess where the trout are going to be?”
Vidrine suspects because water temperatures never really gradually dropped, specks stayed on the Gulf side of the island — and still haven’t made it to the relative warmth of the deep-water roadside holes along Highway 1.
“They weren’t in the marsh. They were still out in the Gulf, so when it did get cold pretty fast, they’re not going to run to the marsh in that shallow water — they’ll die,” he said. “They stayed right where they were, because they had access to deeper water right there instead of going inside.”
Eventually, Vidrine suspects the specks will make it to their typical roadside haunts like the Snake Pit, the Forbidden Hole and along the two bridges leading into Grand Isle. When they do, he favors a Tsunami swimbait or a MirrOlure pogie imitation fished really slow early in the morning.
“I think they just see a shadow,” he said. “I don’t think they really know what it is, but they smash it. Sometimes I’ll catch 10 or 15 fish before daybreak.”
The good news is redfish apparently got the memo, and have appeared as expected along Highway 1.
“The redfish made the move. They got out of the shallow water, felt the cold and headed for the deep holes,” Vidrine said. “So I think the redfish are somewhat normal from what everybody is telling me.
“But the trout are a weird phenomenon this year.”
Vidrine’s plan was to keep working his odd springtime pattern in the middle of the winter at the jetties and the barges — and enjoy it for however long it lasts.
“I’m going to keep doing it until I skunk,” he said with a chuckle.