In previous years, Jack Payne at Sweetwater Marina in Delacroix Island would point August customers in the direction of Black Bay. That big bay has numerous islands, large and small, and structures that have produced trout for decades. Many an old salt has great memories of incredible catches at landmark hotspots like Stone Island, Lonesome Island, the Wreck, the Black Tanks, Iron Banks and Battledore Reef. Those spots were loaded with trout every summer and consistently produced hefty fish and plenty of them.
“Unfortunately, it’s just not like that anymore,” said Payne (504-453-8382). “Most of the time, the water is muddy out there from the river, and even when the water is clear, the salinity is low, so most trips outside have ended in disappointment this year.
“On top of that, we’ve had a tough time getting shrimp this year, so our live shrimp supply hasn’t been as consistent as we want it to be, but for some reason, every marina is facing that challenge right now.”
Despite the summer challenges, Payne remains upbeat.
A best-case scenario is a low river, southerly winds and salty water from the Gulf, myriads of shrimp coming in with the tides and trout along with them.
“I still point my customers to the big outer bays for both reds and trout,” Payne said, “from Four Horse Lake on out through Lake Pato Cabello, Lake Campo, Lake Robin and the deeper bayous that run in out of them. Reefs, points and grassy islands can hold specks and reds, and if you fish pockets and coves and points along the shorelines of those same fringe bays, you should find some nice reds. Live shrimp is always the best bait when you can get it, but reds will also inhale market shrimp, and gold spoons and spinner-jigs have produced fish as well.”
Summer success: 3 tips
- Get out of the muddy water and find cleaner water. If it looks stained, it’s still fishable, and many a fish has been flung across the gunwale in stained water. But if it’s muddy, look elsewhere.
- Leave the dock early and quit early. “The fishing gets harder as the weather gets hotter,” Payne said, “so get an early start.” Sometimes the fish will stop biting once the sun gets blistering hot.
- Fish deeper water. Instead of beating the shorelines in shallow water for specks, try fishing the bottom of deeper bayous and channels, in 6 to 8 feet of water. Fish will still feed when the tide is moving at the mouths of bays and bayous, but they’re hanging deeper this year than usual, probably due to the heat.
Payne said deeper canals and bayous can hold redfish as well, and live or market bait fished on the bottom, or even soft plastics like H&H Sparkle Beetles in chartreuse, clear, motor oil or glow, fished in tandem off the bottom, should produce.
“I just follow the normal procedures; I want to find clean water, moving water, current lines around points or any signs of bait,” he said. “That’s where the fish ought to be.”