The 24-mile, 9,500-concrete-piling, $56 million bridge across Lake Pontchartrain is nothing more than a time-saving blessing for commuters.
That is, of course, if you’re not a fisherman.
The bases of the current-breaking pilings that support the Causeway surrender large trout in the spring and fall months, but the bridge holds arguably the most-finicky and toughest specks to pattern in Louisiana.
But Jeff Bruhl has cracked the code, and generally has phenomenal success with big specks there.
“The full moon in May is the signal for you to go out there and check them, because that’s when they’ll have the most fish out there, other than the fall,” Bruhl said.
The angler said the fish can be anywhere along the bridge, but he normally focuses on areas closer to the north shore.
The angle of a cast seems like an extremely minute thing to worry about, but when fishing for trout more fickle than teenage girls, you’d better pay attention to it, Bruhl said.
“You have to figure out the direction of the tide,” he explained. “You want to present the bait with the direction of the tide.
“If the fish is up against the piling and he’s looking toward the west and you’re bringing that bait from the east by the tail of the fish, he’s probably not going to react to it.
“That’s why the angle of the cast is so important.”
The Causeway is made up of north-bound and south-bound spans. Bruhl said they generally both have the same amount of fish on them, but one is easier to work than the other.
“The south span has two (pilings), and they’re closer together,” he said. “It’s easier to fish because you don’t have to make long casts, and you don’t have to move as much in between the pilings.”
Because the water is so deep around the Causeway, anglers don’t have to worry about spooking the fish with the boat, according to Bruhl.
“If they’re right on the pilings, I’ll jig straight up and down and get to where the boat is almost rubbing up against the piling,” he said.
And he has a particular bait he likes to fish with when he’s jigging vertically next to a bridge piling.
“I’ll use a ½-ounce jighead with a Berkely Gulp Shrimp,” Bruhl said.
When he doesn’t find the fish to be right up against the pilings, Bruhl backs his boat away from the bridge.
“If they seem like they’re scattered and they want a certain cast, I will position my boat in between the bridges, and make long casts on both sides,” he said.
Causeway trout can get locked onto a certain cast unlike any other place in South Louisiana. Throw your bait 3 inches away from where they want it and you won’t get a sniff.
“When you find that pattern and get that right cast, you’ll get a bite on every piling,” Bruhl said.
Bruhl uses 3/8- and ½-ounce jigheads teamed with shad-colored soft-plastics when fishing the Causeway. He also utilizes 7-foot, medium-power, fast-action rods with light, 8-pound fluorocarbon.
“Your lure gets down faster, and you feel the bite a whole lot better,” he explained.