Best August trout bait
Croakers outperform shrimp this month, guide says
Croakers help Capt. Jacques Laboureur keep his clients catching fish in the dog days of summer.
Shrimp are kings of summertime trout fishing — everyone knows that.
Well, everyone but Capt. Jaques Laboureur, who runs his Jakamo South Fishing Adventures out of Shell Beach.
“A lot of people talk about croakers in May, but I personally don’t put croakers in my livewell until August,” Laboureur said.
The reason is pretty straightforward.
“I feel like (trout) burn out on shrimp,” he said. “They see shrimp, they see shrimp, they see shrimp.”
So the young trout killer turns to what most see as a springtime live-bait option to show fish something different.
And there are other benefits to waiting a few months to deal with croakers.
“They stay alive better” than their springtime brethren, Laboureur said. “Early summer croakers don’t keep well.”
His preference is for 2- to 3-inch croakers, which he said are perfect for tempting trout.
“I’m not looking for those 4- to 5-inch croakers,” Laboureur said. “We’re not trophy trout fishing.
“On our side of the river, it’s numbers, number, numbers of trout.”
He rigs croakers on Carolina rigs to get the most out of them.
But his goal isn’t to drag the bait along the bottom, so he sticks with the lightest weight possible by using small split shot or egg sinker. He’ll go as light as 1/8-ounce split shot.
“When the current’s real strong and ripping, I’ll use a 3/8-ounce egg sinker,” Laboureur said.
He said trout normally aren’t sitting on the bottom, so the lighter weight allows the croaker to sort of slowly fall into the strike zone.
“Most of the time it won’t make it to the bottom,” Laboureur said. “If it does, it’s usually (going to be picked up by) catfish, trash fish.”
His method is as simple as his rig: He simply casts upcurrent, flips the bail of his spinning reel and waits.
“I’m not doing anything (with the reel),” Laboureur explained. “I’m just waiting for the trout to rip it out of my hand. By the time you feel the fish, they’re hooked.”
He uses a No. 1 Kahle hook, even though trout have a greater chance of being hooked deep because of the slack line inherent in his technique for the simple reason that he seldom catches throwbacks.
“They’re the ones staying in the box,” Laboureur said.
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