Guide says to pick your days, pick your spots
Capt. Darren Schaff said the late-fall action has been nothing short of fantastic, and he hopes for a mild-to-moderate winter that won’t interrupt it.
“I always say the fishing is so good down here in the fall that anybody can catch fish,” Schaff said. “Our fall has been fantastic; the trout turned on in mid-November, and there’s been no let-up in the action yet. I haven’t noticed any decrease in the numbers of trout caught, nor an increase, so it’s pretty much on par with our usual fall action. But I do think the sizes we’re catching overall are bigger than usual. We aren’t catching many throwbacks, whether that’s good or bad.”
But Schaff (504-400-2466) said as the seasons change, anglers have to adjust.
“Thankfully, here in the Deep South, we don’t get those radically cold winters,” he said. “But we get a steady stream of cold fronts bringing blustery winds and low, dirty water, and when that happens the fish go find deeper water in the interior bayous and huddle down on the bottom.”
If you’re going to fish the colder days, wait at least two days after a front blows through to give the water a chance to settle down and clear up. Fish the hard turns, cuts and drains in bayous such as Bayou Batola, Sister Bayou, Middle Bayou, Oyster Bayou, Bayou Robin and False River.
Schaff said to fish the bends of the bayous and anchor so you can throw along the ledges and drop-offs where the water drops down to 5 or 6 feet. Either drop live shrimp on a bottom rig or tight-line your soft plastic on a 3/8- or ¼-ounce jighead, and just work it along the ledges and points with good water movement.
“And don’t forget, the colder the weather, the slower you move your bait,” he said.
“On milder days between the fronts, try fishing the interior lakes just like you’d do in the fall,” he said. “We’ve been catching fish in Lake Batola, Lake Amedee, Tanasia Lagoon, Petain, Four Horse, and Pato Cabello, just drifting ‘til you find some action. Some of the bigger lakes like Lake Robin and Lake Campo have produced pretty good in the fall, but you probably won’t have to run that far to find the fish this month.”
Schaff uses live shrimp under a cork as long as its available.
“It’s been kinda weird, in that this time of year we usually don’t need live shrimp to catch fish,” he said. “But this year, we’ve needed it. The fish have been very finicky. That’ll probably change in January, and soft plastics will do the trick, but if the live shrimp is available, I’ll bring some just for insurance. Otherwise, I like the H&H cocohoes in black/chartreuse or purple/white, or the Matrix Shad in shrimp creole or lemonhead colors, either under a cork or just cast and retrieve.”
Schaff said there will be some reds mixed in with the specks, but you can specifically target them in the same lakes by fishing up against the windblown banks with live or market shrimp under a cork, or at any points, cuts or drains from the marsh, and coves especially if you know a cove with a shell bottom.
“Basically, you’ll catch reds in the same bodies of water where you target trout — just fish right up against the bank with a live or dead shrimp under a cork, or tight-line that H&H plastic in black/chartreuse or purple/white,” he said.