The waters around East Pointe a la Hache have long been a summer hotspot for speckled trout, especially from late summer through winter. I made many a foray to those waters through the years and seldom went home disappointed.
But that was then.
Since then, the Pointe has been clobbered by muddy river water pouring through Mardi Gras cut, and that flooding has been exacerbated by the near-flood stage river heights for nearly a year. The freshwater pommeling took a heavy toll, destroying oyster reefs and fisheries, and punishing all who made their livelihoods from those waters.
But that bleak picture is being pierced now by some hopeful signs and reports. I’ll even go out on a limb and say the signs are very encouraging. Reports of good, even great catches of speckled trout are coming back to the docks at Beshel’s Marina and from Buras anglers making the trek across the Big Muddy.
A low river
Capt. Chris Danos said it’s because the river is down and hopefully, still falling.
“A low river means higher salinity, and when the saltier water shows up, so do the shrimp and baitfish and all the critters that eat them,” said Danos, who expects a great fall and winter run of specks, and for most of the usual haunts to be productive.
“Normally by October, the speckled trout transition into the inside is well underway, and we’re catching plenty trout in the fringe bays,” he said. “Nowadays, some of those inside lakes are choked with grass, and some of the canals and passes are silted in, so proceed with caution inside. But on the fringes, that won’t be an issue. The weather is cooler, the river won’t be a factor and the action should be outstanding. And anglers still won’t have to run too far to find the fish.”
Back to normal
Things haven’t been “normal” in these waters for quite a while, so I was excited to hear about the trout showing up in the outside waters, from Lake Fortune all the way to California Point and all the bays and lakes in between.
“American Bay, Cox Bay, Quarantine Bay, Bay Crabe, California Bay, Black Bay, Bay Gardene, Bakers Bay, Bay Lafourche … all should be red hot with specks and reds this month and next,” Danos said. “Fish the reefs, fish structure, fish a good current line and fish the birds.”
Unfortunately, Danos himself won’t be partaking of the freckled fall frenzy. Surgeries on his casting shoulder have left him out of commission while he recovers and rehabs. But he can offer suggestions and helpful tips to anglers eager to hit the Pointe.
Danos’ 4 rules for success
First and foremost, fish the falling tide.
“In the summer, the tide is generally rising in the morning and falling in the afternoon,” he said. “That’ll all switch around in the fall, and it’ll be falling every morning and rising in the afternoon. I prefer to fish the falling tide in the morning if you want to catch fish fast. You can still catch fish on a rising tide, but it’s generally a slower bite.”
Second, you want to drift.
“Unless you know a spot that is a definite producer, I suggest you drift until you bump into some fish, and then put down the Power Pole or Cajun anchor,” Danos said. “I get off a point within a long cast from shore, and then I just drift with the wind or tide. Use your trolling motor just enough to control your direction, and have everyone cast on all sides of the boat. When you catch some trout, stick there and see if you can put some numbers in the boat.”
Third, don’t be as eager to move in the fall as you are in the summer.
“In the summer, I give a spot a few minutes to produce, and then I move,” he said. “In the fall, I try not to be as antsy, especially when I’ve just caught a couple fish in a spot. If you put a few in the boat and the action slows or stops, give it five or 10 more minutes to start up again. I find that in the fall, it often does, and the second flurry of activity can add a bunch of fish to your box.”
Fourth, look for clues.
“Look for birds, look for signs of bait in the water and take off your cork and try tight-lining plastic in any of the deeper passes,” he said.
“Finally, if you want to catch redfish, just park at a point in any of those same bays and soak a live or dead shrimp under a cork. It couldn’t be any easier,” he said.
Danos said Beshel’s Marina in Pointe a la Hache (504-333-4469) might have live shrimp, and if they are available, you’d be wise to take some for the finicky days.
“Live bait is always good insurance,” he added. “It can make a big difference on those days when the trout won’t touch plastic. Usually, plastics will produce in the fall, and down here, I tell people they can fish with any color they want, as long as its green,” he said with a wink. “And I really like those Versamaxx corks which allows you to adjust your depth.”
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