Tommy Vidrine not only catches lots of speckled trout around Grand Isle, he catches lots of really big speckled trout there.
He estimates he’s reeled in at least 40 5-pound-plus specks since the spring, and for the third consecutive year, Vidrine and his crew took top honors at Swollfest for heaviest five-fish stringer, biggest trout and biggest female trout.
This year, he also took the award for best overall inshore boat.
His Swollfest victory followed the Black and Gold Classic in May, where he also received best overall boat in that rodeo.
Vidrine, 50, splits his time between Grand Isle and Baton Rouge, and recently shared several helpful hints and suggestions which we’ll feature online that he hopes will help more people catch bigger specks.
If you’ve got one, use your trolling motor earlier than you do right now
Vidrine suggests shutting down your gas motor on your way to your intended fishing spot at least 50 yards away, both as a courtesy to other fishermen who might be in the area and also to not disturb any trout at the location.
“Come in at least 50 yards away trolling into the area you want to focus on whether there are boats fishing there or not,” Vidrine said. “Trout get spooked, so come in with your trolling motor if you want to catch some nice ones.”
And if you don’t have a trolling motor, use the wind to help ease into a spot.
“There’s usually always a wind blowing from some direction,” he said. “You can get upwind and float into a spot where people are catching fish as long as you don’t get too close to them.
“Drop your anchor slowly, and you’re not going to have a problem.”
Use the right anchor, and outfit it with a heavy 6-foot chain
Speaking of anchors, Vidrine says it’s key to use one quietly - and with the right set-up.
“I see lots of people who don’t have a chain, or who have too small a chain,” he said. “In that case, with any kind of hard bottom, it’s not going to set.”
Because he fishes on the beach and along the rocks, Vidrine uses a fluke anchor with a heavy 6-foot chain.
“Let it down slowly where the top of the anchor is always up, and when it hits the bottom, just let it down,” he said. “When you’re backing up, it’s going to automatically set with that chain because it’s pulling the front of the anchor down.
“There’s no reason at all to throw an anchor. If you throw it, it might end up upside down and not bite. Just drop it straight down.”
Depending on wind and current, Vidrine said it’s important to not try to anchor too close to your intended fishing spot.
“Give yourself enough leeway, and go 40- or 50-feet away and drop the anchor, and let off rope to get to your spot,” he said. “Sometimes it might take a couple of times to set it, but if you’ve got your trolling motor on and your anchor in your right hand, you’re not going to upset anyone.
“But the bottom line is having the right anchor and the right chain is going to make your success on anchoring ten times better than what it would be without it.”
In the next article in the series, Vidrine discusses using the right hook for the right bait to catch big-time speckled trout.