Focus on the wellheads, islands for end of summer specks
Leaving the rising sun behind us, we headed west out of Port Fourchon across Timbalier Bay, much bigger than I remember it from years ago.
“Today, Lakes Pelto, Barre, Raccourci and Terrebonne Bay all run together,” explained Kip Plaisance who guides with his son Max for Plaisance’s Tidewater Charters out of south Lafourche Parish.
“I remember years ago, when the lakes and bays were somewhat separated. We lost numerous islands over the years from erosion. People who know where those islands were can still catch fish around them.”
We headed to Casse-Tete Island, also called Hatchet Island because it looks like a hatchet from above. The cork splashed just off a grassy point with the first cast and immediately disappeared. The largest trout landed on this warm late summer day couldn’t resist the squirming live shrimp.
More trout quickly followed with Chris Holmes, Nicholas Gremillion and James “Goosie” Guice periodically adding to the box. With live shrimp, we never know what might pull on the line. We fished a couple more islands and then headed to some old structures that once supported large tanks when I last fished these waters. Only the pilings remain now.
“Older people still call it the Tank Battery, but the younger generation calls it the Deer Stand because part of it resembles a deer stand,” Kip said. “We jump around to different wellheads in the summer looking for fish.”
Before the day ended, we put 13 species into the boat, practically everything found inshore except sheepshead and flounder. After landing several more shrimp-slurping specks, I opted for a jighead sweetened with an avocado and red paddle-tailed plastic trailer. Electric chicken also produced some good fish. Bigger trout seemed to want plastic more than shrimp.
“With live bait, we’ll catch a lot of other fish besides trout,” Kip said. “Often, we’ll get a little better grade of trout with plastics because we get more reaction strikes.”
At each spot, I experimented with different retrieves. Sometimes, trout hugged the bottom. In water five to 10 feet deep, I let the bait sink to the bottom. Some trout smacked the descending enticement. If not, I bounced it a few feet off the bottom and let it settle again. At other times, suspended trout wanted baits swimming higher in the water column. I’d occasionally pause the swimming retrieve to let the lure sink a couple feet.
“When I get bass fishermen on the boat, I tell them to work a plastic a little bit faster for trout than they would a Texas-rigged worm,” Kip instructed. “If people want to take the time to fish plastics, they’ll get more trout bites than live bait, but live bait gets them going faster.”
Kip also free-lined live cocahoe minnows, using just a small split-shot to take the bait a little deeper. At one structure, he hooked a massive bull redfish and fought it to the boat. A large bull shark shot out from under the vessel. In seconds, it gobbled about 25 pounds of redfish, leaving only the head. In late summer, bull reds traditionally come into the bays from offshore to spawn.
“Big schools of bull reds usually show up around the beginning of August with the peak from mid-August through September,” Kip said. “In late summer, we also get a cobia run.
“In late August or September, trout begin moving back into the inland bays and marshes toward Leeville or Golden Meadow. Then, we fish the islands and wellheads toward Lake Barre.”