Capt. Daryl Carpenter of Reel Screamers Guide Service in Grand Isle has been fishing the waters around that barrier island for years, so he has an in-depth understanding about the bite at any time of the year.
But he’s really dialed in on the speckled trout in May.
“Well, by May, and especially how warm the spring has been, the speckled trout bite is going to be awesome,” Carpenter said. “The bait is already here; the shrimp is here. The spawn should be underway. If you want the bigger girls, then they will be congregated at the beach.
“The cycle should be steady and predictable this year. Spawning trout will be going out to the beach and the high-salinity area. Once they finish, they will gang up on the oyster reefs before they are ready to spawn again. This will continue throughout the summer until it gets too hot, around late July, early August. When the water gets around 90 to 92, the water holds less oxygen. That’s when it’s crucial to center trips around the morning and afternoon.”
Where will specks be in May?
Speckled trout fishing is spot-fishing in May, mainly centered around the oyster reefs and along the stretch of beach from Grand Isle to Fourchon. However, many anglers with boats will anchor on a spot while targeting trout. Usually, locking in place won’t result in a substantial catch, because the schools of speckled trout move away from locations. This is why it is necessary to have different spots to fish.
Carpenter mentioned several times the importance of good electronics. Anglers should look for oyster reefs, current points, choke points with moving current and breaks in the sandbars.
Also, it’s important to keep your eyes open for activity, whether it is birds or bait activity.
“Shrimp don’t jump for exercise; if they are jumping, something is after them,” he said.
Gear for speckled trout
A 7-foot, medium-light spinning rod, such as an Ugly Stik inshore select, and a 2500 series reel, such as the Penn Fierce, function fine for speckled trout. You will want to have 8- to 20-pound test line, mono or braid; stay away from stainless steel leaders. Store-bought, stainless-steel leaders for sale at area marinas and bait shops are for tackling bull reds.
Carpenter leans more towards live bait.
“The most important thing is to keep your bait alive and healthy,” he said. “Longer mono leaders are better.”
When he’s not fishing live bait, Carpenter’s favorite go-to lures are the Matrix Shad in shrimp creole color and H&H Sparkle Beetles in lime green.
“They worked in the 40s and 50s, and they still work now,” he said.
“The fishing skillset it takes to be a good trout fisherman takes a lot of time behind the wheel, but you don’t necessarily need a boat to catch a trout,” says Danny Wray of Calmwater Charters, who has guided for the past 15 years and is best known as the founder of “Ride the Bull” — one of the biggest kayak tournaments out there.
“If Grand Isle is pretty new to you, then it might be best to hire a guide,” he said. “But if you want to try it out on your own, my best advice is to buy live shrimp for a popping-cork setup. You will need to watch for dolphins though; they see popping-cork fishermen as feeding opportunities.”
Wray has many insightful viewpoints based on years of fishing Grand Isle. He said fishing pressure has steadily increased over the years. When he started out almost two decades ago, about 20 or 30 boats would be fishing from Grand Isle to Fourchon; now, the number is closer to 200 on any given day. The speckled trout stock has declined as a result.
“Success of the outing shouldn’t be based on catching a limit,” Wray said. “It is a renewable resource we need to protect. Mother Nature is doing a good job erasing what we have, so we should enjoy and preserve/conserve what we have. Keep what we need for dinner and give a pack to friends. We cannot be the “Ziploc State” going forward, if we want to preserve the speckled trout fisheries for the next generation to enjoy.”