The Bayou Bienvenue area has been a speckled trout hotspot for a long, long time. The MRGO funneled salty water straight up from the Gulf of Mexico to converge with the brackish waters of Lake Borgne, Lake Pontchartrain, the Intracoastal Waterway and Bayou Bienvenue, and that convergence of waters produced tremendous underwater highways and habitat for speckled trout, redfish, black drum, sheepshead, flounder and just about everything else that swims in the marsh and in coastal waters.
Unfortunately, the MRGO’s salty waters also caused massive erosion and the death of the swamp lands and wildlife that formerly inhabited the area. And it became an interstate highway for massive storm surges to travel when the Gulf brewed something up, as Hurricane Katrina graphically demonstrated.
To remedy the problems, the “Great Wall” was erected as a huge surge barrier, cutting off the MRGO from the Gulf and hopefully preventing further Katrina-like disasters.
Since then, water salinity levels have fallen, and while the speckled trout action hasn’t quite returned to its pre-Wall glory, it‘s still a productive area to fish, and cooler months are its new heyday.
The proof is evidenced by crowded parking lots in all four area marinas, and more boats full of anglers make the run from docks and marinas in the Rigolets area.
The main attraction may be the Great Wall, but that’s certainly not the only place to catch fish in this area.
Jimmy Dixon, Jr., at Bait, Inc. said the winter fishing has been great.
“Naturally, a lot of people are fishing along the MRGO Wall and around the gate of the ICW and the Wall there, and there’s been some good trout action all along the MRGO rocks between the Wall and Violet,” he said.
Dixon (504-277-3755) said the water along the Wall is deep, so you’ll have to anchor and fish with bottom rigs and heavier weights to get your bait all the way to the bottom on moving tides, and he pointed to live shrimp as the best bait.
Most anglers fish the side of the Wall where the water is flowing in, dragging bait and drawing fish along. If that has you fishing the backside of the wall, the side with all the support beams, then a sliding cork is the better way to keep off the debris-laden bottom. Otherwise, a sliding sinker or drop-shot rig is the way to go.
Other options to try include the ICW, anywhere from the junction of the MRGO to Michoud Slip and even farther on down to Third and Forth Bayou and Bayou Thomas; or at the washouts and cuts along the way. Try the Bulkhead wall and around the remnants of the castle in Violet, or try both sides of the Bayou Bienvenue Locks.