Small-boat Cocodrie — How to catch trout without a big boat

You don’t have to have a big bay boat or fight the crowds this month to catch trout out of Cocodrie. Just head west to this guide’s spring playground.

Summertime speckled trout fishing in lower Terrebonne parish has long been lauded as some of the most-consistent action in terms of sheer numbers of fish.

Fish considered trophies by most largely elude anglers, but fast, often frenzied action awaits those who roam the waters south of Cocodrie.

The catch for many is that it’s no place for the faint of heart when it comes to accessing much of the fishing grounds.

Temperate forecasts often bring calm conditions, but the risk of squalls or — gasp! — missed predictions often keep anglers from venturing into the vast expanse of Terrebonne Bay, Lake Pelto and other big water in the area.

Fortunately, there are alternatives —at least in late spring/early summer.

Safe, productive fishing areas are available to those lacking the vessel or the fortitude to tackle the big water. It’s not completely without bumps, but if anglers and their rigs can handle a few miles of open water, the Terrebonne’s bounty is within safe reach. 

Capt. Olden Rodrigue of Coastal Fishing Charters (985-856-6494) has been fishing the Terrebonne estuary for as long as he has been able to hold a fishing rod in his hand. And the area east of the Houma Navigational Canal — or the “Ship Channel,” as it’s also known — holds a special place in his heart, if for no other reason than that it’s generally not peppered with anglers as much as those areas to the west of the HNC.

“You can literally go an entire day and hardly see any boats,” Rodrigue said. “It’s a whole different environment than over toward DuLarge and Lake Pelto.”

Rodrigue enjoys having almost free reign in plying the protected islands and reefs on the edge of Lake Barre, Lake Felicity and generally everything east of Seabreeze Point as one exits Bayou Terrebonne.

He said it’s more productive into May and June — less so when the weather gets consistently blazing and the shrimp move out, but he frequently checks it out well into July.

“I’ll go wherever there are fish being caught, but having the option to pretty much fish where you want to is pretty nice,” Rodrigue said. “You don’t have to wonder if your next spot is going to have too many boats to fish it.”

Rodrigue mentioned Old Lady Lake, Lake Tambour and Bishop’s Point as good spots that are accessible without even crossing open water, as long as the operator is open to a somewhat circuitous route.

“It’s good and protected from an east or north wind,” said  Rodrique, who knows all about Terrebonne Bay’s open water from making frequent runs across the big water to reach the fish-filled surf side West Timbalier Island and Isles Deniers chain. “Of course, any kind of south wind is going to knock you out.”

What Rodrigue — one of the more passionate and accomplished duck guides in the area — didn’t mention is that almost any kind of west wind is also poison to anglers in this area.

Prevailing easterlies in summertime Louisiana make this concern a non-factor most of the time, but it’s best to seek entertainment elsewhere when west winds are in the forecast.

“If I really needed to, I could fish some of the islands and reefs out of Seabreeze out of my duck boat,” said Rodrigue, referring to his twin-engine surface drive flatboat used mainly to stalk redfish and ferry duck hunters. 

“If you can make it across that open water for just a few miles, you can reach some good fishing that doesn’t get pressured near as much,” said Rodrigue. 

The reason, put simply, is geography and infrastructure. Coastal towns such as Dulac, Theriot and Dularge — all located on or are better accessible to west-of-HNC environs — bustle with activity virtually all year with nearshore, inshore and even freshwater options.

Cocodrie and sleepy, less-known jumping-off spots such as Montegut and Isle de Jean Charles servicing the area to the east are the only options for entry until one reaches Larose and Golden Meadow on the other side.

Also, anglers wishing to access the aforementioned West Timbalier area from Cocodrie — and in conjunction Dulac — pass well to the west in open water of any fishing area they might get an idea about when going out or coming in.

Tucked away off the beaten track to many is a classic but increasingly broken network of islands that often beget shell reefs before being swept away forever.

They’re good, though sporadic as the erosion process soldiers on, attractors of baitfish and shrimp — and in turn speckled trout.

The fish aren’t generally as big or present in the huge numbers of beach fish on the other side of the big water.

They are, however, an outstanding option for small boat anglers willing to take a small leap of faith in reaching them.

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