March is a strange month across the Lake Pontchartrain basin. The fish aren’t exactly at the ever-so-popular bridges yet, like the Causeway and the Trestle — but they’re not still in their winter holes either.
The past three years in March, Capt. Kris Robert of One Last Cast Charters has found very good speckled trout action in Lake Catherine.
“Last March, I had some real productive days until we had those fronts move in,” he said.
Roberts throws popping corks to target the trout. He favors 4-Horseman corks for their great sound, as well as their castability.
“They’ve got a little bit of weight behind them,” he said. “You can get some distance on them.”
Lemonhead, shrimp creole and tiger bait Matrix Shads are among Roberts’ favorite colors. He really likes another in particular.
“I love the Holy Joely, because it just looks like a shrimp,” said Robert, who feels like tossing a variety of colors to start a trip is important.
“If I have a couple of customers on the boat, we’ll all be using different colors and see which one is the hot color, and then at that point, switch over,” he said.
Jighead weight under a cork is something a lot of anglers overlook, but Roberts pays close attention to it.
“I try to use the lightest thing I can, because I want it to sink the slowest it can,” he said. “When you’re popping that cork, the bait comes up, and the slower it falls back, that gives them a faster opportunity to grab it.”
Another thing Robert focuses on is his cadence as he pops his cork.
“A lot of people will pop, pop, pop and continually reel,” he said. “The fish is trying to figure out where that sound is coming from, and if you’re steadily dragging it out the strike zone when he hears the last pop, you’ve already drug it out of that area. I like a hard three pops, let it sit for a few seconds, let the current move it a little bit and pop it again. I’m taking up the slack, but I’m not moving the cork out of the area. I try to keep it in that area as long as possible.”
When Roberts hops in his boat in the morning, he keeps an eye on the American flag, which helps him determine which area of Catherine to fish.
“If it’s blowing out of the south or southeast, I’m generally on the south end of Catherine, because that’s where the cleaner water is going to be,” he said. “Opposite — if it’s blowing out of the north or northeast, then I’m heading back more towards the Rigolets part of Lake Catherine.”
Once he gets in those areas, he positions himself near the vegetation.
“I’m definitely looking for grass lines,” he said. “They’re sitting on that grass line ambushing the white shrimp. Some of them are left over from the year before that just kind of buried down, and some are the new hatchlings being born that are hanging out in Catherine.”
Identifying where the grass is can be pretty simple, particularly with some quality sunglasses.
“You’ll actually see the grass line, and all you’re doing is getting on the outside of that grass line and just kind of working it in that area,” he said. “I love the areas with hard shell bottom, and I like the areas where water is ripping around a point.”