Mermentau River mystique

University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin’ Cajun Bass Fishing Team members got their share of speckled trout last summer on a trip with Vince Theriot of Coastal Guide Service.

Specks are joining redfish in the summer lineup on the river

Any day now, Vince Theriot will return from his guided fishing trips consistently with a mess of speckled trout fresh from the Mermentau River.

Theriot, who owns Coastal Guide Service, which he started 26 years ago, enjoys bringing in-state and out-of-state anglers to the speckled trout, redfish and flounder from the Mermentau River to Calcasieu Lake.

The Mermentau resident, who finally moved back into his rebuilt home in January following Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta, loves to fish in and around the Mermentau River. He plans to be targeting speckled trout in that area many times in June.

“Fishing was really, really good last year for speckled trout in the river,” Theriot said. “I’m looking forward to fishing here in June. I think it’s going to be good.”

Big muddy

But in early April, a regionally heavy rainfall sent extra muddy and fresh water down the Mermentau River system. That influx of high, dirty water put the hiatus on the speckled trout bite, but really didn’t slow down redfish fishing success.

“It’s been crazy here for redfish,” Theriot said. “Rain doesn’t affect them. The cuts (drains) have redfish and catfish 3 to 9 pounds.”

Water conditions were getting better as he spoke, which bodes well for the immediate future of speckled trout fishing. Speckled trout will be back en masse as water conditions naturally improve this month.

High tides, he explained, regularly push saltier water into the river and that’s what is needed to jumpstart speckled trout presence in early summer. When water clarity permits, the veteran charter boat captain said, there will be many 15- to 18-inch speckled trout caught on soft plastics and going into ice chests.

Low pressure

There isn’t a lot of speckled trout fishing pressure in and around the Mermentau River, which might appeal to many saltwater fishermen. Launch at Grand Chenier State Park and there are two options, according to Theriot, who retired as an offshore installation manager for Hess in April 2021.

Redfish like this one caught recently have been chomping on the new Matrix 3XShad Lime Light, a new 3-inch long paddle tail triple-laminated soft plastic from Matrix Shad.

“So in the river, when I launch at the park, it’s only a 10-minute run to go to the (Mermentau River) Jetties and see what it looks like on the beach,” he said, adding if baitfish are along the beach, speckled trout will be there. His go-to artificial at the beach is a tight-lined green hornet Matrix Shad. Otherwise, Theriot heads up the Mermentau River to Little Pecan Bayou, upper Mud Lake and Little Chenier Bayou.

“Anything north of Little Chenier to me is a go-to spot,” he said. The key is to spot “rocks” — old oysters — along the shoreline. Fish wherever you find baitfish AND rocks because much of the time the dead oysters are out away from the bank, too.

“If you see rocks on the bank, they’re in the water nearby,” he said.

He’s liking a new Matrix Shad product more and more as the 3XShad Lime Light, a tri-color laminated boot tail soft plastic, triggers bites from speckled trout and redfish.

There’s one other speckled trout hotspot that’s nearby, south and west of Grand Chenier. He started tapping the speckled trout and redfish population last year along the new breakwater rocks on the east side of Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge.

The fishing can be fair to good there as long as there isn’t a hard southeast wind, he said. Fish the outside and, carefully, inside via gaps in the rocks and concentrate on areas with baitfish, he advised. Most of his success there comes on Egret Baits VuDu Wedgetails or a green hornet Matrix Shad, both on at least a 1/8-ounce leadhead depending on the current. He tightlines for most of his catches but said popping corks can work, too.

About Don Shoopman 567 Articles
Don Shoopman fishes for freshwater and saltwater species mostly in and around the Atchafalaya Basin and Vermilion Bay. He moved to the Sportsman’s Paradise in 1976, and he and his wife June live in New Iberia. They have two grown sons.