Outside fishing in the summertime is popular among South Louisiana anglers, and a large portion of fishermen fill up the boat and make a long haul to Breton Sound.
Go there on a weekend in June and you likely can walk from vessel to vessel.
But for Lake Pontchartrain-based fishing guide Capt. Mike Gallo, running out there would make about as much sense as calculus to a kindergartner.
That’s because he’d have to bypass some great fishing action just minutes from his dock.
“We start heading out to the Lake Borgne (structures) in June,” he said.
There are certainly still some speckled trout in Lake Pontchartrain, but Gallo finds faster action in Lake Borgne.
But Gallo said if you want to fish the Lake Borgne structures, you’d better set an alarm clock.
“We get out there as early as we can,” he said. “The trout bite may only last until 10 o’clock.”
Once Gallo arrives at his chosen structure, he lets the wind dictate how he attacks it.
“If I have calm-enough water to use my trolling motor, I’ll circle the gas well until I figure out where the fish are,” Gallo said. “If I have some seas where I couldn’t do that, I would try upcurrent first.”
As at the Trestle bridge in Lake Pontchartrain that locals know and treasure so much, Gallo said fish can be off of the gas well quite a distance.
“Some are fairly close, but some can be two cast lengths away,” he said.
Similar to a lot of deepwater trout, the guide said there’s a certain bottom-oriented structure that holds the fish near the gas well.
“You always want to feel the shells on the bottom,” Gallo said. “If you get off of them, then you’re probably not where you should be.”
Depth of water doesn’t vary too much around the gas wells, he said.
“They’re all fairly consistent in depth — anywhere from 11 to 14 feet,” he said.
Leave the dock without live shrimp in June and you must be pretty confident in your jigging skills. Gallo never shoves off his dock without the live stuff, but he does still bring along the imitations to make his costly crustaceans last longer.
“I’ll try to get them going on bait, and as we’re catching them, I’ll switch one of my clients over to plastic,” he explained.
Gallo fishes shrimp on drop-shot rigs, while he threads salt-and-pepper-colored Deadly Dudleys on jigheads heavy enough to reach the bottom.
“I usually use a 3/8-ounce jighead,” he said. “You generally don’t have a lot of current in Lake Borgne, but if I’m not feeling the bottom I’ll go to a ½-ounce.”
The trout around the wells range from 11 to 18 inches, according to Gallo.