When water rises, gets muddy in spring, hunt until you find them
March Madness means something completely different for a speckled trout fisherman. Watching river flood-stage levels steadily climb and salinity levels drop will drive a fisherman mad.
Jimmy Barnes of Sportsman’s Junction Outdoor Adventures avoids the madness by staying on the move.
“When the rain shuts down our bite in the bayous where my partner and I had been catching two-man limits of bigger than average trout,” Barnes said, “we figured that all the freshwater, along with the warmer-than-normal water temperatures, had pushed our spring transitional period up by at least a month.”
Shallow bayous holding less than 10 feet of water do not provide a layer of clean, salty water for trout to hunker down in after a heavy rain event, Barnes said.
“Unlike some of the bayous that have good stretches of deep water with good drop-offs, the small, deep holes in the bends of the bayous we fish are not large enough to hold enough bait to support a trout’s needs for any extended period, so they basically get flushed out toward the bay like they would when they start their normal spring transition,” he said.
So when the bite slows after an influx of fresh water, Barnes starts moving toward the bay until the bite picks up.
“We started checking some of our spots out closer to the mouth of the bay, closer to the front that had cleaner, salty water,” he said. “The fish we did find were scattered more in smaller pods, so staying mobile and a making lot of casts was key in catching a decent box of fish.
“We would stay on the move, tossing MirrOlure TTRs to cover as much ground as possible. When we hit some fish, we would stick the boat and sit on them casting, TTRs and Ultra Violet Matrix Shad soft plastics on ¼-ounce Hoosier Hooker jigheads until the bite quit; then we would be on the move again trying to find another group of fish.”
Bait presentation is another key to success.
“We always try to fish either across or with the current and let the current drift our bait right to the fish,” Barnes said. “I really like throwing my jig across and slightly upcurrent and drift it down with the current through where I feel the trout are holding, much like a fly fisherman would in a stream.”
It is difficult to sit in one spot and limit out this time of year, according to Barnes. Look for clean water and fish the entire water column before moving on to the next area. If clean water is nowhere to be found, look for shallow water adjacent to deep drop-offs.
This is a difficult time of year to catch trout for even the most seasoned trout fisherman so don’t get mad — get moving.