Wednesday marked September’s new moon, and Capt. Mike Gallo feels like it won’t be too much longer before quality speckled trout start migrating back into Lake Pontchartrain.
“We’re starting to see some small ones now, so it won’t be long before the big ones are coming in,” said Gallo, who owns and operates Angling Adventures of Louisiana out of Slidell’s Pirate’s Harbor.
Since the weekend, Gallo and his customers have caught about 50 specks, all in the 12- to 13-inch range.
“I think these are the juveniles that didn’t leave in the May/June timeframe,” he said. “They were 8- to 10-inches in length, and they just didn’t have the instinct to migrate out to saltier water and reproduce.
“They just hung around and kept eating, and now they’re getting to be 12- and 13-inches in length, so they’re keepers.”
September typically marks the final spawning opportunity for Louisiana’s speckled trout before they begin returning to inshore lakes and marshes to fatten up and ride out the winter.
“Peak spawning often occurs around the new and full moon, around three days before and three days after,” Gallo said. “The full moon was on the 8th, so I think we’ll start to see some speckled trout come into our area on a more consistent basis.”
The other dynamic about to occur is the annual outmigration of shrimp leaving Lake Pontchartrain heading towards the Gulf of Mexico, Gallo said.
The shrimp, spurred on by the arrival of cool fronts, leave mainly through Rigolets Pass and Chef Pass, which puts them on a collision course with the returning trout.
“Where they cross, it’s a bite every cast,” Gallo said.
When the shrimp finally finish moving out, which could take up to a month or more, Gallo said the trout bite really picks up on plastic baits in and around Lake Pontchartrain.
“What I think happens is when the shrimp leave, there’s less food, so the plastics get more popular,” he said. “Most plastics are good mimics of finfish. So when all the shrimp are gone, what’s left for the trout to eat?