Generally once the water temperatures fall into winter ranges, anglers switch to smaller baits to entice the finicky fish to bite. So what Mike Herrmann does defies common logic, but it produces fish and big fish at that. Herrmann seeks big trout in the inside marshes with big swim baits that he manufactures himself.
“The marsh action gets good in February, continues throughout the month of March and on into April,” he said. “The key is to pick your days between the fronts, fish lakes, lagoons and bays in 3-5 feet of water and preferably those with grass, because they’ll have cleaner water.”
Herrmann especially likes the areas off Delacroix’s Twin Pipelines and all around Lake Amedee because they are grassy, clear, they hold some hefty trout and reds, and fishermen are few and far between.
This time of year most anglers would be tossing soft plastics under a cork or doing some slow tightlining with smaller baits. Herrmann breaks out 5- to 7-inch hard swim baits weighing an ounce or more. He ties them on a baitcasting reel loaded with 16# monofilament and mounted on a stiff rod. And he casts it far in front of his drifting boat.
Move around a lot
“This time of year the big fish are feeding on mullet, pogies, shad and even small speckled trout, so I make my baits to resemble that in size, shape and color,” Herrmann said. “I switch baits a lot, I hunt around a lot, I’ll fish the open water of the middle of a lake or up closer to the grass. In other words I move a lot.”
But his efforts pay off, big time! For him, 18- to 20-inch trout are the norm and some bigger than that. And reds can range from barely legal to monster bulls.
Herrmann’s baits have produced so well he started getting requests for them from fishermen all over the country.
He finally started his own custom bait company he calls Donkey Bay Swimbaits and he ships the big baits all over and always with the same instructions: “Do not fish these baits with braided line or fluorocarbon, only with monofilament.”
“Because a no-stretch line will throw a heavy bait right off, and you’ll lose an expensive lure,” he said.
For anglers content to catch smaller fish, Herrmann said you can toss store bought topwaters and suspending baits with success this month also.