Capt. Eric Dumas has been posting some pictures of some big speckled trout he's caught while pulling 3/4-ounce chrome/blue and gold/black Rat-L-Traps between the two spans of the Causeway. And if the 4- and 5-pound trout pictures weren't staggering enough, the numbers he was reporting were even more impressive.
I met up with Dumas at the Mandeville Harbor this past Saturday morning to tag along with him and Julian Lee, along with his sons Adam and Brandon. The Lee family makes frequent trips from Mississippi to Louisiana for some inshore fishing, but this was the first time they would be trolling the Causeway.
The expected fast bite didn't start out that way. Clouds hung heavy on the eastern sky and the rising sun couldn't do its thing, which is to turn on the Causeway trout. With an eye to the sky, Dumas continually pointed out to all of us that the trout bite best between the spans when the sun is shining at its brightest.
"Not too sure why that is," Dumas announced. "Could be the shade line of the bridge. Could be the Traps flash better. Could be the bait congregates more. Whatever it is, I want those clouds to break so we can turn these fish on."
Our first two-mile troll under the cloudy sky produced only one medium-sized trout. Our second pass was entirely unproductive until the sun finally started breaking free to our east. After a fruitless two-mile troll, one small trout bit right as the sunbeams finally reached the Causeway.
"We've got the sun out now, so we're just going to keep making pass after pass," Dumas said as we pulled in our lines to make another run back to our starting point. "If we can keep the sun out and get the water to warm up a little bit, we should be alright. I guess we're about to find out."
More boats were trolling through the spans by the time we started out third pass. Each boat we passed questioned Dumas about the slow bite, and each time he expressed frustration with the lack of bites while explaining that the sun should turn them on any minute.
The fish finally started biting on our third pass, my last, just as Dumas had predicted they would since the sun was starting to shine stronger and the shade line from the southbound span was starting to creep farther and farther to the east. The east wind pushed our Traps up against the southbound span right into the bright water as we trolled toward the south.
This pass finally turned our frowns upside down, and some quality trout started hitting the ice. It wasn't nearly as fast of a bite as Dumas experienced during the middle of last week, but it was enough to keep all aboard happy and motivated to stick with it.
Apparently my black cloud followed me home as I had to leave to get my son signed up for baseball because some text messages I received from Dumas after I left showed Adam Lee holding up a bigger trout.
The grand total of 20 wasn't that impressive, but on a Saturday morning when everybody was trying to figure out what went wrong, Dumas did just enough to make everything right.