Delacroix Inside Out
Heading outside is definitely a good option this time of year, but most days you donít have to run that far.
Gremillion is definitely not what you'd call a patient fisherman. He moves from spot to spot until he finds feeding fish.
After a stint in the 1990s working under Capt. Mike Frenette and the late Capt. Mike Adams as a deckhand, Gremillion got his captainís license and began running charters.
Although he was quite good at it and his clients loved him, Gremillion hated it.
"It turned what I love into a job," he said. "It sucked."
So Gremillion used his captainís license as a base to build a career driving tugboats on the Mississippi River. Itís a good job with great pay and, best of all, it gives him three days off in a row every week to pursue the sport he still loves.
Like George Clooneyís character in Up in the Air, Gremillionís home is merely the place he receives his mail. Heís always either working or staying at the lodge at Sweetwater Marina.
"Sometimes Iíll go home, and Iíll have two weeks of mail piled up," he said.
Thatís because Gremillion just canít get enough of fishing for speckled trout.
"You get hooked on these things like crack," he said.
Because of that, Gremillion calls himself a "trout whore." Heíll fish wherever theyíre biting.
Over the last five years, theyíve been biting at Delacroix, so thatís where heís spent the vast majority of his leisure time.
"I say it all the time: The only thing you need to catch trout at Delacroix is a boat," he said.
And Gremillionís got one of those. Itís a 24-foot Key West with a T-top and enough deck to be an aircraft carrier. Gremillion christened it the Holy Mackerel (which happens to also be the alias he uses on LouisianaSportsman.comís forum). The boat got a deeper V than most bay boats, so it handles arching white caps like the proverbial hot knife through butter.
Thatís a good thing, too, because Gremillion is fishing on his off days no matter what the wind is doing.
He proved that last month.
Gale-force winds had blown out of the southwest the previous day and all night when Gremillion pushed the Holy Mackerel away from the wooden dock at Sweetwater. The sun was still doing its damnedest to climb above the eastern horizon.
"Weíre going to look inside," Gremillion said. "All the baitís still inside; the trout are still inside. Itís been difficult to get outside lately with all this wind, so weíre going to take a look at Skippy Lake, Pointe Fienne and Bakers, and look at the south end of the area by Pointe a la Hache ó Battleground Bay, Island Bay ó and see if we can run into the shrimp and the trout there.
"Theyíre here; itís just a matter of finding them with this dirty water."
Elijah himself couldnít have been more prophetic.
First stop of the day ó actually the boat never stopped and Gremillion never turned off the motor ó was at Pointe Fienne. Gremillion and his frequent fishing buddy Scott Walker (aka "nightfisher" on the LouisinaSportsman.com forum) scanned the popular water body from the Pencil Canal, looking for diving birds.
Seeing none, they continued on to Skippy Lake, where a dead tide and dirty water quelled enthusiasm. After fewer casts than you get at a boat showís trout tank, the pair motored on to Bakers Bay.
"Bakers has been holding a lot of birds," Gremillion said.
"But itís only first thing in the morning," Walker interjected. "By 8 (a.m.) or so, itís over."
The birds apparently didnít get the memo. Bakers looked like a dead zone ó no birds and no bait.
The duo didnít even stop. They continued on to Grand Point Bay, and thatís where they found their friendly neighborhood seagulls.
The birds were in half a dozen or so separate packs, and they were teaching the shrimp the reasons why it sucks to be at the bottom of the food chain.
How they could see them was the ultimate mystery. The water looked like the fake blood used in old black-and-white horror flicks. And it seemed to have the same viscosity.
There was so much dirt suspended in the water that if Jesus had walked on it, nobody would have thought it was a miracle.
But Gremillion didnít hesitate a split second.
He roared the Key West upwind of one of the bigger flocks, and didnít stop until he could shake hands with the birds.
Unconventional to say the least.
"The main thing I do is I run perpendicular to them because I donít want to send a wave through the birds," Gremillion said. "I donít want to bust them up.
"Other than that, I get upwind of them, and I run down on them hard. While the trout are there and the shrimp are there, I want to go ahead and get on them. A lot of times the birds will leave, and Iíll Power-Pole down on them, and sit there and still catch trout for a while ó in the middle of nowhere.
"My theory is while you have the shot, while youíre seeing birds, while theyíre there, get up on them, get on them quick. They donít spook as easily as everybody thinks they do. Iíve never really had them run off. Iíll run within 50 yards of them, and shut down, and then trolling-motor in, but Iím almost within casting range when I get to them. That way if we pull up on them and we catch a few fish, and the birds leave, I can sit in the spot for a while and still catch the trout."
Gremillion threw out his favorite bait ó a double-rigged TKO Shrimp ó but the rig was suspended under a cork.
"Scottís working the bottom, so thatís why Iím staying on the surface," Gremillion said. "Under birds, we usually throw past the school and come up under them, and weíll catch the bigger trout below the school. A lot of times, under a cork, all you pick up is small trout."
That proved partially true on this day. Both Gremillion and Walker picked up some undersized trout, but they also added several keepers to the box. They pecked away at flocks of birds in Grand Point Bay, Battleground Bay, Island Bay and American Bay.
"Thatís kind of our strategy," Gremillion said. "We pick up a few fish here and a few fish there, and before long youíve got your limit.
"Donít get me wrong: We like to pull up to a spot and catch our limit without ever picking up the Power-Pole, but thatís really unusual for anybody with conditions like we have today."
Indeed, the conditions were so bad that Gremillion and Walker covered double-digit miles of water, and ran across only two other boats bearing brave souls all day.
Still, they put 30 fish in the box, all collected with their frenetic hunt-and-peck strategy.
It was an unusually small haul for the team. Limits are the rule for them because the fishing is so good in the Delacroix area, and also because they pursue speckled trout like the fish have stolen something very dear to them.
"I like the challenge of figuring out the fish," Gremillion said. "That, to me, is more fun than catching them."
The good thing is, at this time of year, theyíre not that hard to figure out.
"We usually start inside," Gremillion said while casting a bait into a deep hole. " Thereís no sense in running outside. The shrimp are inside, and we catch nice trout inside.
"A typical day, weíll look at all the popular spots ó Four Horse Lake, Skippy Lake, Pointe Fienne, Bakers Bay ó and weíll look for shrimp. Weíre not necessarily looking for birds; weíre looking for shrimp or action. Usually you can go up in those places and not leave.
"A lot of the deeper cuts still hold trout this time of year ó Oak River on the bottom, that little cut that runs into Pointe Fienne. Just like weíre doing right here in Net Bayou. Itís a deeper hole. The water is kind of fresh, and salt water sinks, so a lot of times, the trout will be on the bottom. Plus the croakers this time of year are on the bottom, and trout are feeding on them."
Gremillion often starts his day with intentions to go outside, but never makes it before he has his limit. He pays constant attention to his surroundings, and never passes up a spot that looks fishy on that day.
Other times, before he knows it, heís surrounded by the open waters of Black Bay.
"One of the great things about Delacroix this time of year is you can go outside, too ó Stone Island is holding some fish, Lonesome Island, all the way to Iron Banks, and at Battledore weíve already caught fish ó but one of my top rules is you donít run over trout to catch trout.
"And almost every time we go to leave the marsh (to go outside), weíre heading out with 30, 40, 50 fish before we ever get outside."
And Gremillion loves every minute of it.
Just donít ask him to take you on a charter trip.
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