Jared Pennison had the opportunity to target speckled trout Sunday on a boat trip with a group of buddies along the jetties at Grand Isle, but surf fishing had been weighing heavily on his mind.
“We were talking about it Saturday night, and I was telling everybody how I was craving to go back surf fishing,” said Pennison, 25, who lives on the island and is the son-in-law of Buggie Vegas, who operates Bridge Side Marina. “I do it a good bit, but I hadn’t done it yet this year.
“The trout had turned on, and I had caught a whole bunch in the last few weeks on live shrimp under a popping cork. I told my buddy, ‘I got enough fillets in the freezer. I don’t want to catch any more little ones — I want to go catch some hogs.’”
So he opted to test out the surf Sunday morning on the day of May’s full moon — and ended up making the right call.
He and his buddy Bradley Matte, of Morgan City, caught an impressive stringer of 41 solid 3- to 5-pound specks working clean water up and down the Gulf side of Elmer’s Island. The biggest speck weighed 5.2 pounds on his handheld scale, and five redfish plus a 38-inch lemon fish rounded out the day’s catch.
“We probably caught 80 trout, and we threw everything back under 18 inches,” said Pennison, who works for Schlumberger in Fourchon. “We probably missed more fish than we actually landed. I know we had one that went 6 pounds or better that we lost.”
He attributed their success to finding and staying in clean water.
“We saw a lot of slicks where some specks were feeding, but there were pockets of pretty water,” he said. “Instead of focusing on one spot, we just watched for pretty water and that’s what we fished.
“We covered a lot of ground — I could barely get out of bed this morning. We went from ankle-deep water out to where I could barely throw a cast. I would actually walk back and forth to the truck and stand on the beach and watch where those pockets of clear water were moving.”
In slick calm just before sunrise, the duo started working topwater Heddon Super Spooks that generated lots of blow-ups, but not many hook-ups.
“They were hitting the topwater, but it wasn’t making them mad enough I guess I could say,” Pennison said. “They were hitting it, but I could see they were hitting it with their mouths closed. We foul-hooked some of them in the jaw or on the side of their face. They were just knocking it around in the water.”
They moved down to smaller One Knockers and Super Spook Juniors but got the same results, so they decided to tie on MirrOlure Catch 2000 suspended twitch baits after about an hour of fishing.
“Usually I jerk it and reel kind of soft, working it back and forth, and they were doing the same thing to us,” Pennison said. “So I said, ‘Well, there’s only one last thing to try.’
“And we casted out and started jerking the hell out of it. Hard. Basically all we were trying to do was make those trout mad. And we were ticking them off enough to where they just started blowing up on them.”
Lure color was pretty much a non-factor at that point, he said.
“We threw every color we had in the tackle box and we were productive on all of them,” Pennison said.
They were fishing with 30-pound Fins Windtamer braid with 24-inch, 15-pound fluorocarbon leaders attached to the lures with non-slip loop knots for more action. They walked up and down the surf from about a mile west of Elmer’s Island Road all the way back to the Point until they shut it down about 11 a.m.
“We stayed on the go. We would hit a spot for 10 to 15 minutes and we would catch six or seven good trout and then it would shut off, then we would follow the pretty water,” he said. “When I couldn’t see my feet anymore in waist-deep water, I didn’t even have to make a cast because I knew I wasn’t getting a bite.
“It was productive for us all morning long.”
To get more bites using a topwater lure or while working a twitch bait, Pennison said to avoid violent jerks when setting the hook. Instead, apply what he called “light pressure.”
“You definitely have to be patient,” he said. “You just never stop walking the dog or twitching it until they were on and they hooked themselves. Just continue with the motion.”
More boats will begin working the surf this month, but Pennison said action should continue on Elmer’s until about mid-July. On Sunday, they weren’t really targeting particular sand bars or troughs, he said.
“The easiest thing is to just fish the bubbles of a cresting wave. Where they have bubbles, you know that’s where the wave just broke, and you know disoriented bait will be there,” he said. “I know that’s where the trout are going to be eating.”