Grand Isle: Go deep off the beaches

Look for calm days and fish deeper, warmer water; stay in marsh when there’s wind

Keith Bergeron, aka Captain Herk, is convinced that big speckled trout hang out year-round along the beaches of Grand Isle and Fourchon, including January and February.

“I know those big fish don’t run back and forth from the beaches to the marsh during the winter,” he said. “They go deep out in the big water to stay warm, and they hunt along the beaches between the fronts.

“East Timbalier is actually another good winter spot for bigger trout, because it has deep water, so it stays warmer, lots of rocks strewn along the bottom providing forage and habitat for baitfish, and the trout hang out all winter out there,” he said. “The problem is, you can’t hardly ever get to them because of the consistent winds. The beaches and the Timbalier areas are so exposed that almost any wind will make it too rough to travel out there and fish it. But if there’s ever a window of calm seas and winds, you gotta go for it.”

Before and after the cold fronts

On the more typical days, Bergeron said the marshes north of Grand Isle and those to the west around Leeville are generally the areas where he’ll target both specks and reds.

Capt. Keith “Herk” Bergeron holds a marsh redfish caught by his 10-year-old grandson, Hagan Delaune (background).

“The smaller trout move north from Grand Isle up into the marshes, where they prowl the shallow flats foraging for food before and after the fronts, and they hunker down in the deeper water of interior bayous when the temperature plunges,” he said.

“The key to successful trips is to fish around the fronts. Stay home when the north winds are howling through. Wait at least a day, ideally two days, for the weather to warm up and the water to clear up and the winds to calm down; then go fishing. So that means you are fishing both before and after the cold fronts, once it settles down and warms up a bit. Those days we mostly fish around Bay Rambo and Bay Jacques.”

“Fortunately we don’t often get really cold weather down here, but it gets cold enough to drop the water temperatures and trout being so thin skinned, the cold makes them lethargic. They’ll hug the bottom in deeper water and stay put, hardly even eating until it warms up a bit and their metabolism gets going. That’s why you don’t have to leave the dock as early in the winter. You do better by giving the sun a chance to come up and warm things up a bit. Then the baitfish start moving and the trout soon realize how hungry they are and come hunting,” he said.

Reds also on the menu

Bergeron says interior bayous like Palmetto Bayou and Bayou Fer Blanc will hold reds, and he likes to target them on falling tides.

“I just fish the drains from the marsh in the deeper bayous, using either Beetle Spins or a live cocoho minnow about 2 feet under a cork or fished on the bottom using a plain ¼-ounce jighead.”

Bergeron targets trout mostly with Deadly Dudley plastics in either opening night or blue moon colors, either fished under a cork or tight-lined using a slow retrieve.

Capt. Herk’s “Pair-O Dice Charters” can be reached at 985-860-7855.

About Rusty Tardo 370 Articles
Rusty Tardo grew up in St. Bernard fishing the waters of Delacroix, Hopedale and Shell Beach. He and his wife, Diane, have been married over 40 years and live in Kenner.