As fresh Mississippi River water pours into the Lake via the Bonnet Carré Spillway opening, here’s your chance to double down on speckled trout for the next few weeks.
Fishing lure maker Chas Champagne compiled this video story of Spillway openings over the years and where he found trout every step of the way.
Anglers can look forward to another year of fighting freshwater in the Pontchartrain Basin with the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway on February 27.
For the second year in a row and the third time in the last 4 years, this is becoming the norm, instead of the exception.
But the good news is anglers who fish the lake just right should be able to catch some trout in the next couple of weeks before the fresh water from the Spillway moves full force into Lake Pontchartrain. After that, the only thing that will be left will be bass and reds.
The fish each year seem to get hung up or trapped in pockets of green salty water and only time will tell where that will occur this year. Last year we saw our first consolidation of specks toward the south end of the trestle before the fresh water arrived.
The video below is one shot from DockSide TV just before the river water plagued the south end of the lake. In the video we were fishing against time as the Mississippi River waters made their way across Lake Pontchartrain. We found the fish compressed at the trestles on April’s full moon and caught plenty (starting at 1.47)
As it happens just about every spillway opening, the last place to get affected as far as the lake goes is the very north end. Last year before the Mississippi River water took over the entire lake, the very north end had some big trout piled up on the shorelines and we had a great two-week run throwing the Matrix Mullet and the Matrix Minnow hard baits on some mule trout. The DockSide TV episode below shows Capt. Kris and I having a great day throwing hard baits during a spillway opening.
As the river started to take over the lake last year we made one more series of good catches in Lake Catherine as it seemed the fresh water was having trouble finding its way into that lake. Here we did very well using the Matrix Floats popping corks over a matrix and vortex shad along with throwing top waters early in the morning. The video below goes into great detail on this as we shot a video the morning before the Louisiana Sportsman Show.
On the colder days once the spillway took over the lake we were still able to manage a few good catches by hiding out away from the fresh water way back in the deep man made canals off the north part of Pontchartrain. We were doing a lot of trolling and working grass edges and steep drop offs while doing so.
Eventually the fresh water will take over the entire estuary making finding speckled trout virtually impossible. Depending on how long they keep it open is crucial to whether or not it will shut the Lake down completely or just temporarily. And where you will find the trout piled up in front of the fresh water changes each year. One of the biggest consolidations of fish I can remember ahead of a spillway year was the year they opened it early in January. The trout were going wild feeding on white shrimp right in front of the UNO airport. Check this DockSide TV episode out on this phenomenal trout run.
If we get a mild spillway opening and a low Pearl River the lake does have a chance to rebound and get a trout run in the early summer like in the 2011 DockSide TV video below, but I would not count on that now that the MRGO is closed.
Make sure to get out there NOW and get in the little bit of trout fishing we will have this spring. Unfortunately it will probably be short lived due to the spillway but you should be able to make some really good catches ahead of the freshwater. Once it takes over though make sure to break out your redfish, bass and even sac-a-lait equipment because trout will only be found if you are willing to make a LONG boat ride. Below I listed a series of DockSide TV episodes over the years while dealing with spillway years.