Cold means hot fishing in Chalmette

Capt. Mike Gallo caught this 25-inch speckled trout on a shrimp-colored soft plastic lure fished off the bottom.

Look for the speckled trout to start stacking up

The action in Chalmette has been red hot since October, and it’s unlikely to taper off anytime soon. Generally, as the weather chills in these coldest months of the year, the action there usually heats up. It’s one of the few places that fishing actually heats up as water temps chill down.

The locals say the trout showed up in big numbers a bit earlier than usual this year, but no one’s complaining. All you have to do is look at all the trailers parked in the marina parking lots along Paris Road, and that’s when you know the fish are biting.

Charter Captain Mike Gallo (504-259-3474) said the specks have been numerous throughout the area, but they really haven’t stacked up in the deep holes yet like they’ve usually done by now.

“It’s because we haven’t had any real cold weather yet, but I’m sure we will,” he said. “And when the water temperatures cool down, the trout will gang up in the deep holes and you’ll load the boat when you find them.”

Gallo said its not just the cold that drives the trout deep, but its also the diminishing daylight period in the winter months.

“The colder months are the darkest months,” he said, “and I think the shorter period of daylight triggers some instinct that drives them to the deeper water even if it isn’t all that cold yet.. It’s a survival instinct because if they got caught in a freeze in shallow ponds they’d die. And that’s why this whole Chalmette area, the Wall, the MRGO, the ICW, all provide that deeper water for the fish to retreat into if temperatures plunge. That whole area is a wintertime magnet and the fish converge there, fanning out over shallow shorelines and flats on mild days and sunny conditions, but always with the deep water nearby to flee into.”

Check water temps

To know where to fish, Gallo said to pay attention to the water temperatures, which have been in the mid to high 50’s and lower 60’s.

“When the temperatures are in that range, the fish will be scattered all over,” he said. “You’ll find them in shallow water and in deeper water, in deep holes or over flats. But once the water temperatures drop into the lower 50’s, those fish are diving to the bottom, and to catch them you’ll have to fish slow off the bottom.”

If it stays mild, Gallo said anglers are finding trout and reds along the rocks of the MRGO, from the Wall all the way to Violet and beyond. Anchor off at least a long cast distance from the rocks, and fish all directions, both under corks and using bottom rigs.

As winter deepens, you’ll want to fish the deeper waters along the Wall, Michoud Slip, and at the down-current sides of the Floodgates. The Violet area is also producing some good catches around the Castle and the bulkheads, and along the washouts and rocks of the MRGO in Violet.

Gallo said soft plastics fished under corks, tightlined or jigged should be all the bait you’ll need, but he suggests you take some live shrimp with you as additional insurance for those days when the fish are finicky and won’t touch plastics.

About Rusty Tardo 372 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.