Speckled trout aren’t exactly cover-oriented. A largemouth bass can hardly pass a piling or piece of underwater riprap without tucking up next to it like it’s found a new friend for life.
Even though they’re more transient, redfish too relate strongly to cover.
But speckled trout? They might feel codependency with each other, but no trout is going to cling very long to underwater anomalies.
That, of course, doesn’t mean the fish are entirely pelagic. Specks do use cover to their advantage, even if they don’t lock tight to it.
Case in point is the railroad bridge, known colloquially as the Trestles, that spans Lake Pontchartrain, moving freight between New Orleans, Slidell and beyond.
Though trout aren’t attracted to the bridge stanchions as security blankets, they do tuck behind them to hide and ambush bait that’s forced in and out of the lake by strong currents. It happens every spring and fall, and this year, it got rolling in March and has been excellent ever since.
A bridge too far?
Fishing the Trestles can be maddening, as all stretches look almost identical, but the fish will concentrate on different lengths of the bridge from one day to the next, with no apparent reason for the change. That means anglers will have to eeny-meeny-miney-mo where they start on any particular trip, and move often if the action isn’t to their liking.
They’ll also have to determine if the fish are on the upcurrent side of the bridge or the downcurrent side. Most often, the latter is the case, as fish hang out behind the pilings and feast on hapless prey.
But sometimes, when bait stocks are more lean, the fish will leapfrog each other to the upcurrent side to fill their bellies before their mates beat them to it.
Plenty of anglers target Trestles trout with live shrimp on Carolina or drop-shot rigs, but soft-plastics are also effective and tend to produce bigger fish. Standard offerings are Matrix Shads on 3/8-ounce Deathgrip jigheads tied to fluorocarbon leaders or fluorocarbon main line.
Fluoro is important and sometimes downright essential. Last autumn, the water in the lake got crystal clear, and I spent a day fishing shoulder to shoulder with Capt. Justin Bowles while shooting an episode of Marsh Man Masson. He whacked the fish, while I caught one here and one there.
The only difference was Bowles had 12-pound fluoro spooled on his reel, and I had 20-pound. On my next trip, just a couple days later, I went with the lighter line and was headed home in two hours with a heavy ice chest.
Usually, spring winds and rainfall add turbidity, making light fluoro less of a necessity, but it doesn’t hurt to bring a reel spooled with it.
Also in the spring, rising tides tend to be better, as they bring in clean water and fresh stocks of baitfish. Keep that in mind if you want to time your trip to maximize your chances for success.
Go slow, hit bottom
First-timers to the Trestles often go home disappointed, and the biggest mistake they make is fishing too fast. It’s essential to let the lure fall to the bottom after each hop. The fish are usually within a couple feet of the bottom, and anglers who don’t get there won’t get a bite.
Good equipment is also ultra-important. On most days, the bites at the Trestles will be super subtle, and if you’re fishing an inexpensive rod, you’ll likely never feel them. If you’re in the market and want a rod specifically for jigging speckled trout in deep water, go with medium-heavy power and fast action.
And don’t sit on your hands. Get out there soon. May is often one of the best months at the Trestles, but the action never extends very long into June.
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