If you’ve been patiently waiting for Lake Pontchartrain’s annual April speckled trout bonanza, well… You might have to wait a few more weeks.
The good news though, according to Capt. Kris Robert with One Last Cast Fishing Charters, is he’s starting to see signs that big trout should be arriving relatively soon.
“I would say it’s at least two weeks off, probably right before this next full moon in May,” Robert said. “I think we’re just a couple of weeks behind, from what I saw on Monday. They had a few fish on the bridge (the Trestles), but not the big ones.
“And the 16-inch fish we were catching had a little orange line of eggs starting to build in them. So we’re still a couple of weeks away before those fish will start getting those big thick eggs in them and get a little heavy.”
But Robert was encouraged by what he saw on Monday - if not by what he caught.
“When I was going through the lake, I started seeing the rafts of mullet on top the water, and I also started seeing the pogeys slicking throughout the water, so what that’s telling me is that bait is starting to move in, especially with these big southeast winds we’ve been getting,” he said. “The fish are not going to be long behind them once the bait gets in here.
“That was the first day I’ve seen that amount of bait.”
Robert said the high level of the Pearl River is still pumping dirty freshwater into the system, but the river is starting to fall.
“Once it dumps in, the east wind is turning it around and pushing it right back up through the Rigolets into the lake,” he said. “So we need that constant southeast wind, even though it’s pushing dirty water in, because that will make the salt levels go up a little more.
“Normally when we start seeing the water clean up and get right, the Pearl is probably at a 5 or a 6. It will kind of balance out, and the saltwater will clean up the dirty water sitting in there.”
When they do arrive, he expects bigger specks to show up on the south end of the Trestles first.
“The water is always cleaner down there because when you get the southeast wind it’s kind of protected in that area. That will be the cleaner water, so the big ones will start showing up down there,” Robert said. “Then what you’ll start seeing is those fish will start trickling down the bridge, then they’ll start at mid-lake, then they’ll start going to the north end, and before you know it they’ll just be all along all three of the bridges.
“Then you just have to kind of snake in and out with all the people out there to get a spot.”
If you plan on fishing in the next couple of weeks before larger numbers of fish move in, Robert said the key is to keep moving.
“You can’t just sit in one spot and try to catch all your fish. This time of the year it’s kind of in-between things,” he said. “You have to fish a little bit of the bridge, go pop some corks on the shorelines or go jig the reefs off of Lacombe and off of Mandeville.
“You’ll probably pick up 10 or 15 fish everywhere you go. You’ve just got to keep going.”
Robert has been targeting specks along the bridges with Matrix Shad soft plastic lures in pink champagne and ultra-violet using 3/8-ounce jigheads, and also suggested using a Carolina- or drop-shot rig with live shrimp.
“Once the Pearl starts to fall, and we keep getting these southeast winds, it’s going to continue to push the good salty water in and the bait is going to line up,” Robert said. “It’s going to happen.
“I think it’s going to be good and start coming together. I would say a week before the May full moon then the week after, and then all of May is probably going to be pretty good.”