How to “fix” the speckled trout game in your favor

The Alligator Point Rig, the Jack-up Rig, the Helicopter Pad Rig, the Bridge Rig, and the Compressor Rig. For most anglers, hearing these names conjures up thoughts of summertime fishing for speckled trout.

While these money-making structures exist to produce fuel for outfits like Chevron and Shell, for Drake Morvant of Victory Bay Charters, these platforms exist to point him to the speckled trout.

Morvant got his start fishing when he was a youngster.

“Growing up in New Orleans, I used to ride my bike down to the lakefront to crab and fish off the sea wall,” he said. “On weekends and holidays, I would fish from my family’s camp in Slidell.” 

Morvant started fishing from a skiff that he would rent from Tite’s Place just off Hwy 11. When he got his driver’s license his family bought a flatboat. 

“I began fishing Lake Catherine and the Biloxi Marsh,” Morvant said. “Eventually, I was fishing several days a week anywhere from Lake Pontchartrain to the edge of the Chandeleur Sound. Many days were spent from sunrise to sunset on the water learning firsthand the marsh along the ICW, and the passes leading to Lake Pontchartrain.” 

As Morvant learned the area, he began fishing the various gas rigs that pepper Lake Borgne. As he learned just how productive these rigs can be during the summer months, he started researching where old platforms were located. 

“The visible rigs are very popular in the summer and can attract a crowd, so I started looking for the old oyster leases and well-heads,” he said. 

On calm days, Morvant would map the perimeter by dragging a 2-ounce bank sinker on the bottom. 

“After doing this for 10 years, I’ve mapped 60 shell pads,” he said. “These spots are a lifesaver on weekends when there are more than a few boats at each of the standing rigs.” 

Morvant braces to set the hook on a speckled trout at “The Big Yellow” rig in Lake Borgne.

Hard bottoms

While many anglers think these rigs attract trout because of the legs that extend down into the water, Morvant said it’s what’s on the bottom that attracts fish.

“Most of the rigs have a hard bottom or a shell pad,” he said. “These shell pads attract and hold bait such as shrimp and finfish, which attract trout, redfish and black drum.”

Through the years of fishing these shall pads, Morvant has learned where the most productive ones are located by finding the thicker pads.  

“Some of the more productive pads in Lake Borgne will come up 1-2 feet off the bottom,” he said. “These thick pads create a break in the current. On calm days when the tide is really moving, you’ll actually see the water being displaced on the surface from the depth change over the reef.”

Approaching a rig

While most fishermen prefer a more direct approach to fishing these rigs, Morvant said there’s no need to get too close to the structure. 

“There may be a few fish holding to the rig legs, but the school is going to be on the down-current part of the platform,” he said. “Some shell pads extend hundreds of feet beyond the rig structure so there’s no need to get right up on the rig legs.”

When approaching a rig, Morvant shuts down his 300 HP Yamaha when he is about 300 feet away and uses his trolling motor to get closer. 

“Noise discipline is crucial to putting numbers in the boat,” the captain said. “Noise travels far in water, especially with a shell bottom. 

“When I am approaching a rig, if there is a boat already there, I turn and head to the next spot on the list. From experience, I assume that boat plowed a full circle around the rig with the radio blaring, then multiple attempts were made to get the anchor and chain set.” 

Because the shell pad extends away from the rig, Morvant is able to reel in this speck without having to worry about getting wrapped on the rig legs.

Rigging up to fish the rig

When targeting speckled trout around gas rigs and shell pads, Morvant prefers using a relatively flexible rod.

“I use a medium action Fenwick HMG Spinning Rod,” he said. 

Morvant pairs it with a Pflueger Supreme 30 loaded with 20-pound Power Pro. From the main line, he ties on a 7-foot leader of 15-pound Seaguar Red Label fluorocarbon. From that line, he goes another step by adding a drop-shot line which is made of 30-pound Big Game monofilament with a #3 Gamagatsu Octopus hook that ends with a 1-ounce bank sinker. 

“That bank sinker really lets you feel the bottom,” he said.

All the knots tied throughout the lead and the drop-shot rig are uni-knots. As far as bait is concerned, Morvant chooses to use live shrimp in June. If he has a choice, he’ll go with the smaller-sized shrimp. 

“I prefer small shrimp because it’s much easier for the fish to get little shrimp in their mouth quickly,” Morvant said. “People tend to not have the patience to wait for the trout to take the time to kill and get a large shrimp into its mouth. Small shrimp on a hook means a guaranteed fish in the boat.”

Reap the rewards

While gas rigs and platforms provide fantastic speckled trout fishing in June, Morvant said there are other shell pads in the lake that produce similar results this month.

“There are old gas rigs that have been removed but the shell bottom remains,” he said. “If you put in the work to find them you should reap the rewards all through the summer.”

While June is a great month to catch speckled trout at the Lake Borgne Rigs, Morvant said the platforms produce fish year-round and can be very dependable if you have the boat to reach them. Below is a list of months and how Morvant recommends fishing each one.

As the Trestles in Lake Pontchartrain stall out in June, Morvant heads to the rigs in Lake Borgne.

Month by month with Morvant


“There are three months that I love to target the rigs for speckled trout,” Morvant said. “May, June, and October. In June, I use a drop-shot with live shrimp to not only catch speckled trout, but I also catch white trout, black drum and redfish.”


In July, I stick with the drop-shot rig with live shrimp but also use a slip cork to catch white trout, big black drum and bull reds, Morvant said. 


“The white trout bite is strong in August,” he said. “I usually use a drop-shot rig with plastic. SpeckDrum Triple Tail in any bright color.”


“The white trout bite will continue into September with the speckled trout bite getting better towards the end of the month,” Morvant said. “You will also be able to catch black drum and redfish on the bottom using live shrimp.”


The speckled trout and white trout bite is hot as the cool fronts start passing through. According to Morvant, October is a great month to catch fish using artificial. 


“As the cooler weather arrives, the freshwater catfish will start showing up at the rigs in Lake Borgne,” Morvant said. There’s no trick to catching blue cats. Market bait on the bottom should render loads of these fish. The white trout will start to fade away in November. What white trout you do catch will all be small.”

Drake Morvant shows off two hammers caught near a gas rig in Lake Borgne.


According to Morvant, winter spells an end to the good fishing at the rigs and shell pads in Lake Borgne. 

“As the water temperatures dip into the 50s both white and speckled trout will be heading for deeper water,” he said. “Similar to November, the freshwater catfish will be plentiful around the platforms.”


“This is probably the worst month to fish the rigs,” Morvant said. “Once again, the blue cats will be just about the only thing that’s hanging around the structures.”


“In February the sheepshead show up as they start leaving Lake Pontchartrain,” Morvant said. “This will last through March. Live shrimp on a drop-shot rig or a slip cork will do the trick when targeting these fish. There will also be plenty of blue cats still at the rigs this month as well.”


“Much like February, March will see plenty of sheepshead and freshwater catfish,” Morvant said. “But the larger sheepshead will disappear as they head for deeper water to spawn. The small and medium size sheepshead will still be thick, and you can find them holding close to the structure.”


Morvant said the speckled trout start showing up again in April, but they’ll be small so you’ll have to weed through them to find some keepers. 

“Just keep bouncing around the rigs and you should be able to find some keepers,” he said. 


“All the rigs and shell pads will hold speckled trout in May,” Morvant said. “Live shrimp on a drop-shot will work best but artificial will also produce.”