BY TODD MASSON
|Photo by TODD MASSON
|Anglers find big females
at likely spawning areas during the week of the full moon.
Larry Frey (left) and John Perrone caught these on April’s
At one point, it was surely a big hunk of
marsh, but now it is only a little sliver of island. Just enough
mud and cord grass protrude through the water’s surface to break
the crested rollers that charge from Breton Sound into Black Bay.
It isn’t much to look at, but on a recent
trip, Larry Frey was confident the spit of land would hold big
With the full moon setting in the western
sky and only hints of the rising sun glowing in the east, Frey
let fly his first cast of the young day. The bone-colored Top
Dog Jr. crashed down near one of the linear island’s points. Surely
on many mornings the sound of the bait slapping the water would
have been an assault to awakening ears, but on this day, the waves
rolling into the small island drowned out the splash.
Frey, unable to combat his confidence and
enthusiasm, began his retrieve instantly. Though it was early
in the season, he knew the fish would be here. The full
brings the fish to the spawning grounds.
His hollow bait shot to the right, then
the left in classic “walk-the-dog” fashion. Five seconds into
the retrieve, the water seemed to explode. Again, the eruption
was all but inaudible to those on his boat, but it surely wasn’t
Frey set the hooks hard, and his C-shaped
rod gave irrefutable evidence that the trebles had sunk deep into
His Curado 200 generously gave up line like
a mob mother feeding spaghetti to her boys. The fish may have
found it wise to shoot over to the oyster reef that jutted out
from the island, but fortunately, it didn’t. It charged out into
the bay, apparently hoping it could tow the bait, line, rod, reel,
angler and boat all the way to Breton Sound.
But Frey had other ideas. He thumbed his
spool to slow the fish, confident his 17-pound-test would hold,
and he gained ground when the still unseen trout made a turn.
|Photo by TODD MASSON
|Some days during the full-moon
week, likely spawning areas will be inundated with nothing
but male trout.
It soon became clear that the fish was losing
the battle. A redfish has a fierce first run that is followed
by a fierce second run that is followed by a fierce 18th run.
But a trout has only a fierce first run. When he first realizes
he’s hooked, he has big plans for getting free, but like an overweight
convict, he just doesn’t have the stamina to make it over the
Frey’s trout was swimming circles around
the boat, refusing to give up but unable to take out more line.
With each loop, Frey worked the fish closer and closer to the
side of his Blue Wave bay boat.
Finally, the fish was at boatside, and one
of his buddies trapped it in the landing net. The fish didn’t
compare to Dudley’s or Terry’s — and certainly not to Leon’s —
but at 6 pounds, it was a great start to a promising day.
Although some scientists doubt the effect
the full moon has on the speckled trout spawn, there is little
doubt among trophy trout fishermen that the full moons of April,
May and June, and sometimes even March and July, deliver the monsters.
“That is absolutely the best time to fish,”
said Venice guide Capt. Brent Roy. “For most of the week before
the full moon, the big females are feeding like crazy.”
This benefits anglers in two ways: 1) the
fish are gaining weight rapidly, meaning they’ll weigh more when
they’re caught, and 2) since the fish are actively feeding, they’re
more likely to be caught.
Roy can attest to this, and not just from
years gone by. This April, he and his clients boated three fish
over 8 pounds while fishing the week before the full moon.
Since he’s having the fish mounted, Roy
put them directly into the freezer. He, consequently, hasn’t examined
the bellies, but feels confident they were full of eggs because
of the size of them.
Throughout the years, Roy has caught the
big “pre-spawners” in water as shallow as 3 feet and as deep as
20 feet. But, he said, the productive 20-foot-deep water is always
adjacent to a beach or sand flat to which the fish can move to
carry out their spawning duties.
These spots are cherished by anglers who
find them because there are certain spots out there that hold
big fish while other similar spots hold nothing but numbers of
smaller fish, Roy said.
So even though the full moon is approaching
doesn’t mean an angler can go to any old spot with any old bait
and expect to catch wall-hangers.
According to Roy, three things are necessary:
1) a big-fish spot;
2) a big-fish bait;
3) a boat-load of patience.
“You really have to fish for big fish. You
have to have your mind made up that that’s all you want to catch.
You have to throw a big bait in a big-fish spot, and you might
have to fish all day for five to 10 bites,” he said.
|When a trout takes a topwater
bait this deep, you know it’s in an aggressive mood.
Roy tries to increase that number by soaking
his baits in a concoction he’s created called Lagniappe Juice.
He feels the attractant makes big fish more aggressive and that
they hold onto the bait longer because they taste fish oils rather
than plastic when they bite down on a bait.
“It’s something I’ve fiddled around with
for years,” he said. “I used to put it in my wife’s old hairspray
bottles and spray it on my baits, and I found that it really made
Word got out, so Roy began to mass-market
it. The Juice is now available at many small retailers in southeastern
What Roy sprays the Lagniappe Juice on depends
on how deep the water is that he’s fishing. In deep water, he
likes big soft-plastics. He caught all of the big fish during
April’s full-moon period on full-size Deadly Dudleys (blue moon)
and Deadly Dudley Terror Tails (chartreuse, chartreuse/firetail).
During the week of the full moon, Roy always
asks his customers if they want to fish for a few monsters or
for numbers of smaller fish. If they want only big ones, Roy will
take them to one of his big-fish spots.
“Some people get tired of that, and by 10
(a.m.), they want to go catch numbers. That’s fine, I’ve got no
problem with that, but the (anglers) who catch the big fish are
the ones who stick with it,” he said.
But, of course, sometimes Roy catches numbers
in his big-fish spots and lunkers in his number spots.
In fact, he said, he’ll invariably have
days of catching nothing but numbers in his big-fish holes during
the week of the full moon.
“It’s really weird,” he said. “Last year,
Bobby Warren and I fished the same spot during the (week of the)
full moon in May and June. One day, my clients and I had lots
of 3s and 4s, and several 5s and 6s, and Bobby caught one that
weighed 8-2. The next day, he and I both went back, and between
the two boats we had 150 male trout. The females were nowhere
Roy theorizes that the big females dropped
their eggs on the night between the two trips and moved off to
recover from the spawn.
Scientific evidence seems to support that
theory. A study conducted in 1993 by Michael Saucier and Donald
Baltz found that speckled trout prefer to spawn in areas with
high current, with the males initiating spawning activity as frequently
as every night.
The males will move into a favorable area
and create drumming noises with their swim bladders. This draws
in females, but not as frequently as the males would like. Unlike
male trout, females spawn an average of only once every 21 days.
|Photo by TODD MASSON
|Black Bay’s Stone Island
is typical of the sandy spots that trout invade to spawn during
the week of the full moon.
During the week of the full moon, anglers
are likely to find numbers of males in spawning areas, except
for the days when the females move in to take their role in the
act, just as Roy has experienced.
Calcasieu Lake guide Capt. Erik Rue and
Capt. Billy Bucano, who fishes the Delacroix area, also like the
full-moon period, but they both find it to be most productive
late in the evening, at night and early in the morning.
“I don’t fish at night as much as I used
to, but I’ve had some of my best trips at night under the full
moon,” Bucano said.
Bucano finds that bite shuts down, though,
in the mid-morning.
“They’ll hit until about 8 (a.m.), and then
it can get a little tough,” he said.
Rue agreed, saying the best time to fish
during the full moon is when the sun is low on the horizon or
“There seems to be a morning bite, a mid-day
bite and then the best bite is in the afternoon,” he said.
Exactly why so many large trout seem to
spawn around the full-moon cycles, scientists can’t say for sure.
“Spotted sea trout are batch-spawners,”
said Mark Schexnayder, a fisheries biologist with the LSU AgCenter.
“It may be that the increased light level helps them to group
up and allows for more synchronicity.”
Schexnayder also said it’s conceivable that
trout spawn during this time of the month so that they can take
advantage of the strong tides leading up to the full moon. Those
strong currents give trout a lot of time during each day to feed,
which allows them to build their health and weight for the upcoming
rigors of the spawn.
“But that’s just a hunch,” he said.
But even on the full moon, whether an angler
has a successful trip or not is dependent on many different factors,
“I think the most important aspect that
determines the bite is the tide, then the wind, which is the deciding
factor of where you are able to fish in that given tide,” he said.
“If it happens to be Saturday and 10,000 bay boats are speeding
all over your favorite holes, forget all of the above and go play
“Unlike the moon, new or full, there is
no doubting the influence of Saturday morning traffic, a 20-knot
wind or a dead tide.”
For more information, call Capt. Brent
Roy at (225) 268-8420, Capt. Erik Rue at (337) 598-4700 or Capt.
Billy Bucano at (601) 795-0760.