Lake Pontchartrain’s trout-fishing cycle

While John Falterman happily accepts charters for any species that swims in the big lake and its connecting waters, his specialty is speckled trout — certainly Louisianan’s favorite saltwater fish.

He starts his trout year off in March by tossing Deadly Dudley Bay Chovey and Matrix Shad soft plastics rigged on 3/8-ounce jigheads at the Tressels, the railroad bridge stretching across the eastern end of Lake Pontchartrain.

The plastics are fished close to the bottom very slowly. Success depends on being able to detect subtle bites in the relatively deep water.

The bite usually starts at the southern end of the bridge because early spring Pearl River discharges will often murk up the waters on the northern end of the bridge.

Water clarity dictates where to fish on the bridge, as trout seem to seek the clearest water available.

As temperatures increase, fishing improves through April.

Sometime in May live shrimp become available at bait shops. At the same time, the speckled trout bite on plastics slows down and live shrimp become the bait ticket.

Live shrimp continue to be productive at the Tressels through June.

In the heat of the summer — July through September — trout fishing can become irregular at the Tressels and, while keeping his eye on the bridge, Felterman shifts much of his attention to other spots, such as Lake Borgne, the CSX bridge in Rigolets Pass and the Biloxi Marsh in St. Bernard Parish.

October and November find him back at the Tressels, dredging the bottom with plastics. These are two highly productive speckled trout months in the lake.

The same can’t be said for the December through February period. When water temperatures drop to the magic mark of 50 degrees, Lake Ponchartrain speckled trout seem to disappear.

Fishing shifts to marsh areas, including The Wall, which is more properly known as the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lake Borgne Surge Barrier on the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.

About Jerald Horst 959 Articles
Jerald Horst is a retired Louisiana State University professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, book author and outdoorsman.