Water temperature dictates plan of attack, guide says
The Lake Pontchartrain estuary provides a lot of different types of fishing, and that can be super advantageous this time of year when conditions change so much.
Lake Pontchartrain guide Capt. Mike Gallo has many options when he leaves his lodge this month, and on colder mornings, he heads for deep water.
“Once (the water temperature) gets below 55 degrees, I think you need deeper water — the dead end canals like Geoghegan Canal, Lakeshore (Estates), Eden Isles and Venetian Isles,” he said.
Gallo said there are certain elements of those areas that are appealing to specks in the cold weather.
“They all have consistent depth, and those fish can get down on the bottom and get used to the temperature,” he said. “They don’t have a lot of current to swim against; they don’t have to waste a lot of energy. If food happens to come by, they’ll go get it.”
The specks’ lethargic attitude is quite a stark contrast from the warmer months, Gallo said.
“In the summertime, we say they’ll go 20 feet to find your popping cork and plastic,” he said. “In the wintertime, they’ll barely go 20 inches. Once you find them, if you find them in 12 feet of water or 18 feet of water, that may be the biggest part of your pattern right there — finding 18 feet of water.”
He said a good depth finder is a must-have in cold weather months.
“I really use my electronics a lot in the wintertime,” he said. “Get that thing zoomed in. You’re obviously using your depth finder for temperature and looking at the bottom to see if you can see areas that you think are fish.”
In the deep canals, Gallo throws 3/8- and ½-ounce jigheads teamed with Matrix Shad, Deadly Dudley or Gulp lures.
“I’m going to use light colors when the shrimp boats are around,” he said. “When the shrimp boats kind of move out, then I switch colors. I’ll still try them, but I won’t try them first.”
The moment water temperatures climb above 55 or so, Gallo fishes the Trestles, and also shorelines in Lake Pontchartrain that have grass.
When fishing the shorelines, a lot of times Gallo reaches for a popping cork, but he changes up from his normal cadence.
“I don’t pop it as quickly as you would in the summertime,” he said. “I might pop it once every 20 seconds.”
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