July means another month for big spawning speckled trout in and around Grand Isle, and Capt. Mark Scardino with Hard Times Fishing Charters said bait selection couldn’t be any easier.

“July is going to be a live bait game with croakers and shrimp — that’s the ticket right now,” he said. “But the croaker bite is not like a shrimp bite. A trout will just eat a shrimp. For croakers, the trout will hit him and turn him around and take him head first, so you have to give him time to swallow.

“It’s hard for people to wait — they want to pull that line quick.”

Lower-salinity water has been an issue at some points this summer, but Scardino said he expected the action to pick up at spots like Four Bayous, Hackberry Bay, Caminada Pass, Port Fourchon and the Gulf. 

Scardino said he typically hooks croakers through the back with a 2/0 kahle hook, and Carolina rigs them with an 18-inch, 30-pound fluorocarbon leader and a ½-ounce bullet weight. His main line is usually either 15-pound mono or braid, depending on where he’s fishing.

“I use a bullet weight instead of a round lead because the bullet shape comes over the oyster shells and doesn’t hang up as easy,” he said. 

Redfish-wise, he said live shrimp or minnows under a cork should be successful in spots like the marsh toward Hackberry Bay, around Little Lake and in Bayou St. Denis. 

Offshore trips also have been successful: Scardino said he’s been fishing wrecks and running to rigs 30 miles out of Barataria Pass and fishing in 200 feet of water, catching red snapper, king mackerel, vermilion snapper and mangroves. 

For red snapper, he rigs up with an 8-ounce weight, a 50-pound fluorocarbon leader, 80-pound braided main line and No. 9 circle hook. Cut bait is usually pogies, squid or bonito.

To target mangroves, he downsizes to light line, typically 20- or 30-pound fluorocarbon, and drifts it with no weight whatsoever.

“You’re going to lose a lot, but if they see that line they aren’t coming to it,” Scardino said. “They’ll swim right to the hook and turn around.”

Chumming for mangroves is OK, he said — to a point.

“A lot of people want to chum them up so much they fill up and go in the rig and don’t come out anymore,” he said. “You might throw just a little bit out to see if they’re at a rig, and that’s it. Then leave them alone, because you want them to come out of the rig to you.”

Scardino watches his electronics to see where fish are holding in the water column offshore. For red snapper, it might be 120 feet down. Typically, mangroves are in the 10- to 40-foot range, he said.

“Get upcurrent on mangroves and drift back to the rig, or you can rig hook and throw to the rig,” he said. “It all depends on how many people you have on the boat with you to help you.” 

Editor’s Note: For more information, contact Capt. Mark Scardino with Hard Times Fishing Charters at 985-787-3529 or 504-382-5286, or email him at hardtimesfishing@viscom.net.