In a series of articles this summer, big trout specialist Tommy Vidrine shared key tips and tactics to help everyone catch more specks.
From trolling motor use to anchoring, as well as which hooks he prefers and why he free-lines using live bait, the Baton Rouge angler who feasts on big Grand Isle trout freely shares the techniques he uses to consistently put fish in the boat.
In the final installment of the series, the angler discusses a variety of topics, including how he chooses a fishing spot and how being aware of bait movement translates to catching more fish, especially in a month like August at Grand Isle.
“August is not a big-fish month because it’s so hot, but there’s a lot of trout to be caught in numbers,” Vidrine said. “There’s plenty of bait, with no shortage of croakers and pogeys, and there’s finger mullet everywhere.
“Trout love to hit those 3- to 4-inch finger mullet.”
A key right now is finding moving green water.
“Trout are sight-feeders, and they need to see the bait in most cases to feed,” he said. “So if the water is really muddy where you’re at, they may be there, but they’re not going to see the bait, and you’re not going to get a lot of strikes.”
Water movement, either through tide, wind or wave action, is critical - as long as it’s not too much.
“If the current is too strong, you need to find an eddy because bigger trout will not work in that current for food,” he said. “They’re going to be in a place where the current is passing them by where they can watch prey go by, and they’ll strike it then.”
Vidrine said he thinks lots of anglers spend too much time focused on their ‘favorite spots’ instead of assessing the day’s conditions and perhaps moving to a more promising area.
“Some people will stay on their favorite spot just because they caught them there last time,” he said. “They’ll stay two hours and catch one or two trout. If the conditions aren’t right, move from that spot.”
Personally, Vidrine gives individual locations about ten casts before moving on.
“If you don’t have a trout by then, you’re probably not going to get any’” he said.
When he’s on the move, something he’s always on the lookout for is the presence of bait in the water.
“If you see activity on top of the water, something is chasing them. They’re not doing that for no reason,” he said. “They’re coming to the top because a spanish mackerel or a speckled trout or a redfish is chasing them.
“If I’m running down the beach heading towards my planned destination and I see birds working or shrimp popping out of the water, I’m going to stop. That’s how I’ve had some of my best days - just looking for bait on top of the water.”
It’s no secret Vidrine favors 15-pound green Trilene mono line when he’s after big specks, and that has a lot to do with how he fishes.
“Don’t use braided line if you’re fishing rocks because you will get hung up, and when you go to pop it, it will be very difficult,” he said. “You know how many hooks I use on a good weekend? It’ll blow your mind.”
The answer is 30 to 40 hooks, but Vidrine considers that the cost of doing business when you’re targeting big specks.
“I’m successful though, because I’m in the rocks,” he said. “You can’t be scared when you fish like I fish. You just have to buy a lot of hooks and know you’re going to lose them. And when you get hung up, don’t sit around and bend your pole.
“Tighten down, pull it straight back, pop it and tie one on. I can tie a hook on much faster than sitting there pulling on it, hoping it’s going to come undone.”
Until the August heat set in, Vidrine said he could fish almost any time of day through the spring and early summer and still catch fish.
But not anymore.
“You’ve got to start early,” he said. “I would say if you want to be successful, you need to get up early and fish until around 9:30. And then again from about 6 until dark — that’s when you’ll catch most of your fish on hot summer days in August.”
Finally, speaking of heat, Vidrine said to be extra careful and wash up well if you use your hands to apply sunscreen.
“If you have sunscreen on and put your hands in the bait well, all the shrimp will die,” he said.