Philosophy of a predator

“I try to think like a fish,” said Tommy Vidrine, dark eyes burning fiercely. “A predator like a trout is different than a redfish. They will be a predator and a scavenger. Speckled trout are always predators.

“Very seldom will a trout hit a dead shrimp, especially a big trout. Even so, big trout are lazy. They want the food coming to them, and they will position themselves so that the current brings it to them.

“Big fish will lay in any eddy out of the current. Little fish will get out, and chase bait and pop them out of the water.”

Vidrine, originally from Eunice, has focused his speckled trout fishing efforts on Grand Isle, where he owns a camp. And Grand Isle is different than other places, he explained.

“In Big Lake, you can catch decent fish under birds. Here, (trout under birds) are always small,” he said. “The only exception is in the first trough of water on the beach in less than 3 feet of water.

“There, I will fish under birds.”

A highly successful AFLAC broker in Baton Rouge, he makes 45 trips a year to Grand Isle. A trip is typically Thursday into Monday.

And, while Grand Isle is usually deserted by camp owners in the winter, that’s not the case with Vidrine.

“I love it down here in the winter,” he said. “You can catch just as many fish in the winter as the summer. They are just a little bit smaller.”

He owns a 24-foot bay boat, but he is not above doing what Grand Isle natives do in the winter — “road fishing,” which involves targeting the ditches and culverts along Highway 1 leading into Grand Isle.

“I bring a bucket and fish like poor people,” Vidrine said. “Rich people find that kind of fishing demeaning. When it gets into the 30s for three days, the big trout go into holes 10 or 12 feet deep. I put on hip boots and fish with a Tsunami Swim Shad to catch fish 5 or even 6 pounds.”

Vidrine fished for speckled trout, redfish, lemonfish and mangrove snapper from Fourchon for 18 years, driving back and forth from home. Although he still makes some mangrove snapper trips, about six years ago, his fishing focus and philosophy shifted to emphasize catching speckled trout, especially big trout.

“I target trout, but if I catch a redfish, I will keep it,” he laughed.

The Type A businessman and fisherman, with caution and bravado combined, ventured that he thinks he is the best trout fisherman on the island. By his numbers, he caught over 100 5-pound-plus specks between May and July of last year.

Whether it is due to pure skill or the hidden horseshoe that Bridge Side Mariana owner Buggie Vegas thinks he has, it is hard to argue with the numbers of big fish he brings in.

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.