If it’s May, it must be time to catch speckled trout at Tiger Shoals due south of Vermilion Bay’s Southwest Pass.
Sometime this month, speckled trout will bite in the area located about 10 miles south of Southwest Pass, Lafayette lawyer Kyle Gideon said.
Gideon, who began fishing when he was 2 years old, made the transition from bass fishing to saltwater fishing in the early 1980s. He remembers being ecstatic catching five bass and distressed when he and a buddy didn’t catch 50-plus speckled trout an outing, which is why he chose speckled trout fishing and is right at home in his camp on Cypremort Point.
Generally speaking, he said, old-timers always told him if you want to catch speckled trout at Tiger Shoals “don’t fish until after May 15.”
However, that rule of thumb has been debunked by Gideon and others, who often start tapping the trout population there earlier.
“Last year (in) the first weekend of May, my buddy pulled up at my camp and said, ‘Don’t bother going; we didn’t catch anything,’” Gideon said.
The angler went the next day and the water conditions had improved considerably to the point where he caught 23 fish.
“The water had gotten beautiful,” he said.
Most of the time trout fishing there is fair to good until mid- to late-September. By then, the speck fishing is on fire closer to Cypremort Point in places such as Vermilion Bay and on reefs such as Pavy’s Reef and Tee Butte.
Tiger Shoals could be at its best starting in May, whenever it turns on.
One factor that influences the bite at Tiger Shoals is the Atchafalaya River stage at Butte La Rose, Gideon said. When the river gets under 10 feet, the fishing starts getting better and better, he said.
The lawyer started fishing Tiger Shoals in the early ’90s. It has changed. Some platforms he once fished, such as South Marsh Island 233 and SMI 235, have been pulled out over the years.
However, he has coordinates to put his boat on the shell pads.
There still are plenty of visible structures in the area, such as SMI 218, better known as “Four Posts.” It’s a wellhead with three posts sticking up, easy to distinguish from others in the area.
The Tiger Shoals area is shown on NOAA Marine Chart 11349-Vermilion Bay and Approaches. The chart shows individual platforms, underwater mounds, wrecks and other navigation features.
When Gideon targets Tiger Shoals, Four Posts usually is his first stop. Next is SMI 221, and then he heads eastward checking various wellheads, including “Bent Leg.”
Water depths average 18 to 22 feet.
His favorite artificials to offer speckled trout there are 3-inch-long cocahoe minnows in glow/chartreuse on a 3/8-ounce leadhead with a round head so it doesn’t get caught up in the shells.
Work it slowly back to the boat, bouncing it off the bottom.
Another go-to artificial of his is a lemonhead Matrix Shad or a chartreuse/glow or purple/gold Norton Sand Eel, both on either ¼- to 3/8-ounce leadheads.
Some anglers are successful with live shrimp, when available, on a Carolina rig with an 18- to 24-inch leader, he said.