If you’re looking to stock your freezer with speckled trout, the islands south of Cocodrie are where you want to be.
“It’s easy,” said Capt. Tommy Pellegrin. “It’s the best fishing I’ve seen in my lifetime. Yesterday I couldn’t get away from trout for nothing. I had a guy who wanted to catch a redfish, and I couldn’t get away from trout.
Pellegrin, with Custom Charters, said the action is non-stop at Timbalier, Last Island and Coon Point.
“Straight across — from one end to the other,” he said.
Now, to be honest, you can catch plenty of trout pretty much anywhere out of Cocodrie. But the veteran guide said you’ll be sorting through dinks if you stay close to the launch.
“All the juveniles are in the marsh,” Pellegrin said. “The size gets a little bigger, a little bigger, a little bigger as you get to the beach.”
And, boy, are there some nice fish working the front beaches of those islands.
“They’re really good fish — 15 to 20 inches, with some 23-inchers mixed in,” Pellegrin explained. “The other day, we had them breaking double rigs in half. You’d hook up with two fish, and you’d get one to the boat.
“We ended up throwing single rigs.”
But there are a few keys to loading up the boat.
First, don’t worry about water visibility. It doesn’t matter.
“Yesterday, there was a 2- to 3-foot surf, and I was fishing just outside the breakers in water that may have had 8 or 10 inches of visibility,” Pellegrin said.
His customers slammed the trout.
But you do need to know where in the surf to focus your attention.
“If you know that the tide is coming in, then you want to be up in the breakers,” he explained. “If the tide is falling, they still may be up in the (first) trough, but that first sandbar where it drops off — they’ll be right there.
“On a real low tide, they’ll be farther out.”
You can just work along the beach and catch fish, but Pellegrin said it’s best to narrow down the search even more by locating the cuts through the first sandbar. Those are byways trout use to get into and out of the trough, so it’s a pretty sure bet you can catch them there.
“They’re going to prefer that deeper escape area where they know they’re not going to be trapped,” Pellegrin said. “They might not be right in the current (funneling through the trough), but they’ll be close to it.”
Locating these cuts is a matter of reading the water, which means looking for current lines moving perpendicular to the beach.
“The best time to find them is on a calm day on a falling tide,” Pellegrin said. “You’ll see the water coming out of them. All it is is a little current coming out, and it looks like a water hose blowing water out.”
Once a cut is located, you can fish it all season. Pellegrin said he’ll either mark a waypoint on his GPS or find something on the beach by which he can identify the location.
So what’s the best bait to use?
While many anglers insist on artificials, Pellegrin almost always has live shrimp on his boat because he knows his customers will catch trout.
“I’m all about happy customers,” he laughed.
He simply dangles a lively shrimp beneath a sliding cork and orders his customers to toss it into the surf.
“When the cork sinks, it ain’t broken,” Pellegrin joked
Leader length is absolutely critical to success, however.
“They need to be a minimum of 2 feet long,” Pellegrin said. “I had a good friend on the boat the other day, and we were catching fish but he couldn’t catch anything; I looked and his leader was about a foot long.”
The reason longer is better is pretty simple.
“The shrimp can’t swim around good on a short leader,” Pellegrin explained. “It’s all about that shrimp looking natural.”
The terminal end of his rig is tipped with a No. 4 KVD Elite Triple Grip Mustad hook (No. TG78BLN), which the guide said just doesn’t let go of a trout once it gets snagged.
“You better have a pair of pliers on your hip because without a pair of pliers, you’re not going to get that hook out,” he said.