After a long wait since the middle of last summer, Sammy Romano had been eagerly anticipating catching fat speckled trout in the surf again on Grand Isle.
Sunday morning, he finally got his wish.
Romano, the manager of Chag’s Sporting Goods in Metairie, along with good buddy Cabot Corso, each had their limit of specks by lunchtime after a fast and furious morning in the surf throwing suspended jerkbaits.
“We whacked them pretty good. We had 50 trout by 11:30, and caught and released redfish until our arms hurt. The biggest trout we had was 3 ½ pounds… I went the Wednesday before and didn’t do much. It was a little too rough, but we caught some big fish,” Romano said. “I said, ‘Well, it’s just a matter of time before we come back and catch it with the right conditions.’ The fish are there.”
They returned Sunday morning and got started at daybreak — but the action was initially pretty slow.
“The first hour and a half we didn’t get a bite, but then the water changed,” he said. “The water was dirty, and then the cleaner water pushed in. You need to fish the incoming tide.”
Romano’s go-to lure for the day was a natural-colored Unfair Lure’s 90 mm Rip-N-Slash suspending bait, long popular among Texas and Florida trout fishermen. The lures are available at Chag’s, he said.
“The thing that impressed me the most with the lure is the PVR hooks — that’s the initials of the guy who owns it. The barb is on the outside of the hook and it’s got an angle on it, and I only lost one fish on that thing all day,” he said. “It actually got stuck in my calf once and it pulls out of you easy because you can pull away from the barb — not push.
“The fish unhook real easy, but they don’t come off when you’re fighting them. That was the coolest thing.”
Corso fished a silver MirrOlure TTR with similar results, he said.
“I don’t think the color matters that much. I don’t think the fish care,” Romano said. “They hit the action more than anything.”
He said most of the speck hook-ups came as they worked a mullet line along the beach.
“We weren’t really throwing into the foam, but there were live mullet just piled up along the beach,” he said. “You’d just throw up onto the edge of the mullet, and as soon as you’d sink under them, it was on. Sometimes it was on when you’d hit the water.”
Romano uses 20-pound PowerPro Super 8 Slick braid with a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader. He typically brings one baitcasting reel rigged with a topwater lure, and three spinning reels set up with a suspending lure, a sinking lure and one Vudu shrimp under a cork.
“That way I’m not out there retying,” he said. “Time is too precious.”
Romano said a big key to successfully fishing in the surf is going when conditions work in your favor.
“The biggest thing I tell people, like, this week is shot,” he said. “Don’t try to go in any kind of wind over 10 knots out of the south. That makes it hard to find the bait and see where the fish are. Wind is first, the moon is second and the tide is third. Full moons obviously bring bigger fish, and the tide is probably the least important.”
One thing he definitely keeps an eye on before deciding to go on a trip is the timing between waves.
“I look at the wave interval on the Coastal Marine Forecast for the Northwestern Gulf, and they give you a wave period,” he said. “If it’s anything less than five or six seconds, you’re going to get beat to death. Because you can have 1-foot seas with a three-second interval, and every three seconds a wave is hitting you.”
While he’s on the beach, Romano said he's always searching for the ‘Three Bs.’
“Bait, birds and bottom contours are the three things I’m looking for,” he said. “If you can find any of those things, you’ve got fish every day.”
When fishing conditions will allow, Romano said action in the surf on Grand Isle typically continues into mid-summer.
“It will usually go all the way through the Fourth of July,” he said. “But as that water warms up, the bite is going to become shorter. It’s going to become more of an early-morning bite.”