Lafitte anglers have to make long runs most of the year to reach hot trout action, but this month everything is happening near the little port south of New Orleans.

"In reality, 35 minutes from the marina you can catch plenty of trout," Capt. Theophile Bourgeois said.

The owner of Bourgeois Charters said the entire upper Barataria Bay is filled with specks, with areas like Little Lake and Manila Village being prime targets.

"All the way to the beach at Grand Isle," Bourgeois said.

And you have your choice of how to target them.

If you're just looking to fill your limit with eating-sized schoolies, then all you have to do is run south and keep your eyes peeled.

"Bird watching," Bourgois said. "All you have to do is look for the birds. They're doing it now (in mid-April)."

Shrimp have already moved in, and gulls are pummeling the tastey crustaceans. And just beneath the surface carnage are schools of speckled trout.

"They're doing it right now," Bourgois said. "It's the beginning of shrimp season, so the birds are out there working already."

Getting bites from the masses of fish beneath the gulls is pretty simple: Just shut down outside the flock (without getting too close) and either drift or troll into casting distance.

And it pretty much doesn't matter what you throw.

"The trout are gorging themselves for the stresses of egg-laying," Bourgeois said. "They are eating heavy before the spawn."

Bourgeois said he never, ever uses live bait, even though he admitted live shrimp will get pummeled.

But he said the expense of live bait is unnecessary, at best, and downright unwise at worse because every fish that swims loves to chomp on shrimp.

And even when you catch a trout of a school, there are even odds that it won't keep.

"Go chase the birds and catch 200 (trout) and keep 50," Bourgois said.

That gets costly when you lose a live shrimp on every dink.

"Every little fish is going to cost 30 cents," Bourgois said. "If you get 100 shrimp per person, that's $35 per person."

And the fact is that these schoolies will fall for soft-plastic jigs as willingly as live bait.

Bourgeois did recommend leaving schools from which undersized fish predominate.

"If you catch six or eight fish and there's no keepers, move to the next school," he advised. "The mortality rate on those little fish is real high."

The second option is to ignore the schools and look for bigger fish.

"Throw topwaters over the reefs and along the shorelines," Bourgeois said. "And they're not in schools."

Lures like Bomber Badonk-a-donks will get hammered, and not just by trout.

"You'll get reds, too," Bourgeois said.

And the solid trout were already prowling the upper Barartaria Bay in mid-April, Bourgeois said.

"We're catching 2- to 3-pound trout right now," he said. 

Regardless of whether you are looking for school trout or yellowmouths, tide is an important factor.

Bourgeois said the perfect tide ranges from .6 feet to 1.2 feet.

"Any time the tide is less than .6 feet you'll catch them but you'll have to earn them," he said.

He said even within that range it's important to understand how fish orient.

"When the current is strong, the fish will be farther out (from shorelines)," Bourgeois said.