Unusually high water levels on the Mississippi River right now are making speckled trout tougher to find out of Venice, according to a fishing guide.
“The river is killing us. We started out in early May catching them like crazy, and we’ve had 5 or 6 feet of water in the last two weeks. Tuesday was the first full moon of June, and we should be able to catch trout everywhere downriver,” said Capt. Owen Langridge, with Big O Charters in Venice. “Usually the river is down to about maybe 7 feet. And it’s twice what is should be.
“We’ve had a ton of rain in the last two weeks, and we’ve had the snowmelt in the last three weeks, so it’s a double whammy. This is the highest river I can remember in 20 years for the first of June.”
The Mississippi in New Orleans is almost 13 feet now, and is expected to rise to 13.5 feet on June 13, he said.
Since speckled trout need salinities at about 6 parts per thousand — and are even happier in water at 12 parts per thousand — Langridge said the fresh, muddy water churning downstream has caused them to move.
“You’ve got to get pretty far away from the river to find clear water,” he said. “We’re having to go mostly up around Empire and Black Bay to catch trout.
“But I’ve been throwing live shrimp about 18- to 24-inches under a Paradise Popper cork, and I’ve been doing pretty good. We caught 50 on Wednesday.”
On the west side of the river, he’s been targeting the islands in Scofield Bay and the oyster reefs in Bastian Bay. On the east side, the Iron Banks, Stone Island and the Wreck are all holding trout, he said.
The run north from Venice is worth it now, Langridge said.
“We were catching trout at Breton Island a week ago. Right now, there’s water hyacinths floating around Breton Island from the river. I just refuse to go out there because I know once I get there, all I’ll catch is hardheads,” he said. “The river has jumped 2 feet in two days and that really turns fish off down here.”
But just as quickly as the river has risen, Langridge said it’s going to fall — and the specks will return with a vengeance, with spots like Sandy Point, Tiger Pass and Main Pass all turning back on.
“They’ll be back,” he said. “When they pull the plug on that river on the 13th, it’s going to fall like a bomb. Once the river reaches about 11 feet in New Orleans, the trout will start moving back closer to land.”