"This is Grand Isle. There are supposed to be trout on all these rocks," lamented Capt. Craig Matherne with Premier Charters of Grand Isle.

We were fishing the rocks on the surf side of the island, and those right across from the orange-roofed Sureway grocery store had been a hot spot.

Not so this past Wednesday. Despite throngs of mullet, a falling tide and lively croakers, we couldn't get so much as a sniff from the specks.

But this was Grand Isle, and all the while we struggled to catch trout on the rocks, the near shore rigs loomed behind us.

Matherne knew those rigs were loaded with mangrove snapper.

Our first stop was a rig in about 55 feet of water where Matherne marked a big school of fish off one of the corners.

We got on the down current side of the rig close enough to cast live croakers with no weight right to its shadowy edge.

"Now leave your bail open," Matherne instructed. "These fish are maybe 14 feet down, so by leaving our bail open as the boat drifts away from the rig, hopefully our croakers will get down to that depth."

I am a visual and tactile angler by nature. I like to see what I'm fishing and feel what I'm fishing with.

Floating a live croaker in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico didn't suit my sensibilities.

At least it didn't until I saw the fluorescent braided line floating on the surface tick.

A quick burst of line flew off my reel.

Cool as a cucumber, Matherne turned my way and offered more instructions.

"Flip the bail and start reeling," he said.

A little while later, we repeated the same thing over and over again on a rig out farther in about 100 feet of water.

This rig had swarms of mangrove snapper that we watched follow our baits out from the shade on each drift.

"Drifting a croaker by letting it free fall with no weight is kind of a finesse tactic," Matherne explained. "It can be a little frustrating because people wonder how they're going to know they've got a fish on."

As I discovered, though, there's no mistaking it when these fish grab your bait. They hit it and run out of there.

The mangrove snapper provided some welcome action while the trout bite was soft back in the surf, but being that this was Grand Isle, the surf side rocks remained on his mind.

We bounced back in and, after making a quick stop at Bridge Side Marina for bait, fished the Caminada jetty with live shrimp on bottom with Carolina rigs and about a foot and a half under the surface under corks.

Both tactics paid off for us and the five or six boats around us. For about an hour, just about every rod in every boat was bent against the weight of head-shaking specks.

"This morning, there were a few boats here and we chose to hit other rocks," Matherne reminded me. "We went off shore but snuck back in this afternoon, and the bite is on again."

And that's the beauty of Grand Isle.

With so many options in such a compact area, you can rest assured that something is biting somewhere.

For more information, contact Matherne at 504-416-5572 or premierchartersofgrandisle.com.