We looked much more like duck hunters than fishermen, but last Thursday morning me and Tommy Vidrine ventured out early to target speckled trout in the ponds and canals adjacent to Highway 1 near Grand Isle.
Along with our rods and reels and Vidrine's trusty 5-gallon roadside bucket, we were bundled up in hunting jackets, knit caps and waders. Winds were blowing from the northeast, and the temperature was in the upper-40s — perfect conditions for long casts to fish positioned in deeper, slightly warmer water on the south side of Highway 1.
The plan was to throw chartreuse and silver/black Yo-Zuri slow-sinking twitchbaits that imitate a mullet with a very, very slow steady retrieve — a tactic that Vidrine, who fishes year round for specks on and around Grand Isle, had been using most of this winter to reel in some nice roadside trout — including a few weighing in the 4-pound range.
We started casting into the pitch black around 5:30 a.m., with only some moonlight shining off the water, barely able to hear our lures land because of the blowing wind.
But action was extremely slow, and with only two fish in the bucket after about an hour, Vidrine made the call of the day: He decided we should both switch to a 3-inch Tsunami paddle tail minnow in golden bunker with spots.
It was like a light switch went off.
We were in the exact same spot — standing about 25 yards in thigh-deep water —and casting to the exact same area we had been all morning, and fish that had obviously been uninterested in the twitchbait were suddenly eager to attack the Tsunami.
On literally his first cast with the swimbait, Vidrine hooked up. Then I hooked up. And it pretty much stayed that way for the better part of the next two hours. If you didn’t catch a fish on every cast, you got a nibble or swung and missed. We were slowly reeling in and pulling the rod tip up, then letting it back down. Almost every hit happened as the bait fell.
We wrapped up the day about 9:30, with more than 30 fish in the bucket, including a couple pushing 3 pounds. We caught and released at least 20 more, including some smaller specks that started biting as the morning wore on.
Vidrine stressed the bite can be inconsistent, and really shines after a good cold front comes through and chills the water temperatures — which forces the baitfish and the specks to concentrate together in that deeper, warmer water. After a string of days with warmer air temperatures in the upper-50s or 60s, the fish will spread out again and move into the shallower areas of the marsh — so watch the forecast and plan your trip accordingly.
TIP: In many spots along Highway 1, being able to cast far is key. If you’re throwing your favorite 3-inch swimbait and normally use a baitcaster, you might want to consider using a spinning reel so you’re not fighting backlashes the whole time. Many of the anglers I saw were using spinning gear, and were reeling in lots of specks, also.