Tommy Vidrine’s speckled trout trip Thursday on the back side of Grand Isle — along with the incredible amount of bait he saw — already has him chomping at the bit for what could be a very special springtime run.
“They’re not here in droves like they will be in the next 30 days, but for them to already be here in March, I think it’s a sign of a banner year,” said Vidrine, an independent contractor for Aflac who lives in Baton Rouge but spends lots of time on Grand Isle. “I’ve heard of it, but I’ve never seen them come on the island in March.”
Vidrine caught his limit yesterday afternoon fishing with live pogies that he caught himself about 2 feet under a popping cork. The pogies weren’t particularly big — about 2 inches — but that didn’t seem to affect the bite.
“The first cast I threw out, the cork went down and I put my Power-Pole down,” he said. “I caught probably 35 fish in an hour and kept the biggest 25. I was culling them.”
VIdrine was using a small 1/0 hook, and was hooking the live bait upwards from the bottom lip.
“They’re so small if you handle them a lot or hook them wrong, they’ll die,” he said. “But there’s millions and millions of these pogies. I think it’s going to be a banner year for bait. I’ve never seen that many pogies, from the game warden’s station all the way to Sand Dollar Marina.
“I just blind casted with my cast net, and had 40 to 50 in each cast.”
After strong winds early this week, Vidrine said the water north of the island started to clear, and he found a protected spot with gravel near a pipeline where the trout action was steady.
“All the females I caught had a small sack of eggs. So the spawn is on already, which is unbelievable,” he said. “They might not be dropping them yet, but they’re full of eggs. Every female I filleted had roe in them.
"So the party has started — it’s just not in full bloom yet.”
Water temperatures are in the 65- to 70-degree range, and Vidrine said he didn’t expect this weekend’s cool front to dramatically affect the bite.
“As long as the wind doesn’t get too crazy, the fronts this time of year don’t bother us too much,” he said. “It takes a long time for the water temperature to change. It would take two weeks of that for the water to get back in the low 50s, and that’s not going to happen.”
The action Thursday afternoon wasn’t limited to just trout, either.
“You can fish with the live pogies on the edges of any rocks on the backside of the island,” he said. “It’s full of sheepshead, and the rat reds and the bulls are all over the rocks.”