Speckled trout started arriving in large numbers around Grand Isle last week, and that could only mean one thing: Carl “Tommy” Vidrine wasn’t very far behind.

The 51-year-old from Baton Rouge who loves to target big specks got to his camp last Tuesday, and despite days of persistent windy weather, managed to put together some good trips with some solid trout.

Vidrine catching nice trout certainly isn’t unusual — what’s different is that most of the specks he caught last week were under a popping cork on the north side of Grand Isle and Grand Terre.

“You can’t fish the front anywhere when it’s been like this,” said Vidrine, an independent contractor for Aflac. “The water wasn’t bad, but it’s way too rough. On a windy day, I’ll fish the back with live shrimp and put on a popping cork with a small circle hook.”

Vidrine typically tight-lines live bait near the jetties on the east side of Caminada Pass to catch monster specks, but persistent 20 mph winds from the south forced him to change his plans.

“When it’s a south wind, you can hide behind the island and the land protects you and creates some clear water if you stay close to the back of the island,” he said.

Unlike when he free-lines, Vidrine doesn’t hook the live shrimp under the horn when he uses a cork. But he does stick with No. 2 circle hooks because he thinks they result in more hook-ups.

“Hook it through the back of the tail and pitch it out there as far as you can from the boat. The further you can get it out there in shallow water, the better,” he said. “Right now, the shrimp are kind of small, so I like to hook them through the tail because it seems like they live longer.”

He had a solid day Friday trip north of Grand Terre, fishing about 70 feet off the rocks in open water. Other spots he suggested include the game warden’s station, as well as around some of the new rocks that were recently installed around Grand Isle.

Vidrine prefers a loud popping cork with a titanium rod, washers and beads, and uses 14-pound Trilene monofilament above and below the cork.

“Small trout will get scared with a big pop,” he said. “But if you’re trying to catch 2- or 3-pound fish like are on the island right now, that big pop makes them come from 6 or 7 feet away. In the wintertime, a clip-on cork is fine, but right now they want to hear that pop.”

He’s looking forward to calmer weather next month so he can again free-line for monster trout at the jetties, but he’s certainly not above using a popping cork to fill up his box in the meantime.

“I like to catch big trout, but I like to catch fish - period,” he said. “So it’s all good. We’re glad the trout are back. There’s nothing like getting on that boat and catching them one after the other, finding that spot where they’re just gobbling it down.”