Capt. Elvis Jeanminette has just three words for anglers flocking to Cypremort Point for some December speckled trout action.
Glow and chartreuse.
And the well-worn jar of Spike-It Garlic Dip-N-Glo dye on the center console of the guide’s 23-foot Ranger Bay is a telltale sign of his affinity for adding chartreuse tails to lures without it.
“There are three baits known for speckled trout and redfish in this area,” said Jeanminette, who operates Top Rod Fishing Charters. “The chartreuse-dipped tail on any bait, mostly on a glow. Then you’ve got the LSU: purple and chartreuse. My number one color for redfish is the H&H tuxedo, solid pearl and black. And I add the chartreuse tail. That’s my little extra because you can’t find them like that. I wish they would make it, but dipping works perfect.
“If you’ve got those baits, you will catch fish in the Vermilion Bay.”
This time of year, Jeanminette recommends The Cove, Mud Point and the eastern and western shores of Weeks Bay for specks, using the glow bait of your choice. He prefers the Tsunami swim bait, and he always uses 12-pound mono line whether he’s targeting specks or reds.
Any type of tidal movement is key, but Jeanminette prefers a falling tide.
“Some guys prefer any type of movement, but my specialty is a falling tide, especially if it’s almost out and will stay that way for a while,” he said. “Because it’s falling, every trenasse or drain becomes a Burger King or a McDonald’s.
“These fish know bait is coming out of there, so they stack up and feed.”
The fickle nature of Cypremort Point’s water, which is greatly influenced by the level of the Atchafalaya River as well as prevailing winds, makes the fishery a challenge on a daily basis, especially in the winter.
Strong cold fronts will eventually push the trout out, and they won’t return until the spring, he said.
“The minute we get a front that comes through with a north wind, it sucks the bay dry and rains freshen up the bay and the salinity falls, and it’s over. The trout leave. Some are native and don’t know how to move out, but most of them go back to the Gulf,” he said.
Redfish, however, remain consistent, and Jeanminette said winter is the best time to catch them in and around Vermilion Bay.
“Every shoreline in Vermilion Bay is flooded with them right now, and people don’t realize that,” he said. “They come out the bayous, the Commercial Canal and the Avery Canal, where it’s deep during the summer for them to cool off. Now the water is cool, so they’re on the shoreline along Weeks Bay. They go to shallow water.
“All the feed is against the bank line, too - the bait and the shrimp. That’s why you don’t see any birds working right now, because the bay is depleted of shrimp. They’ve left or are buried. All you have out there now is shad they’re feeding on. That’s why they’re eating plastics - there’s not a whole lot left.”
The key for redfish is getting your lure to the bottom, he said.
“Everybody wants to pop a cork,” Jeanminette said. “No - the redfish are on the bottom. All you have to do is drag a plastic bait. Get it to the bottom and drag it slow, and if there’s a redfish or school of redfish around, you’ll catch a limit in no time.”
Jeanminette often targets redfish in 3 feet of water or less, with a 1/4-ounce jighead.
“Our shorelines are mud, so a heavy weight will sink,” he said. “You want to throw that quarter-ounce and just let it slide over that mud.”
This time of year, as fronts move through, finding clean water is crucial.
“The wind and rain disturb the water and dirty it,” Jeanminette said. “Once the weather settles down, it filters and three days later, it’s almost as clear as if the front didn’t pass.
“But it takes time for the water to settle, then the fish will start biting again. If you can’t see your bait a foot deep, you’re not going to catch any fish.
“You might as well move because you’re not where fish are going to be seeing it.”