Southeast Louisiana has mild winter weather compared to a lot of other parts of the country, but still, January is littered with cold fronts bringing in strong winds, high pressure and frigid water temperatures.
This might sound like a nightmare for fishing, but Dularge’s Capt. Marty LaCoste said the sheepshead, redfish and drum fishing can be phenomenal even under horrible conditions.
“You can still put a good box together fishing shrimp on a day where you think you might not catch anything,” he said. “Sheepshead, redfish and drum are the three main fish you’re going to catch while fishing shrimp. There are certain areas where the sheepshead are just piled up, and that’s all you catch.”
In the Dularge area, Lacoste fishes canals with structure like pilings as well as drains in the marsh.
“A corner on a point with some pilings with current moving through can be good, or you might have a dam and that has oysters on the bottom,” he said.
LaCoste also likes to fish dams in the area, particularly ones with oysters on the bottom.
Old shrimp work, too
LaCoste targets the sheepshead, drum and redfish with dead shrimp on a ¼-ounce jighead, and said having freshly dead shrimp isn’t necessarily important.
“Sometimes, I’ve got some old shrimp that may have been in the boat a couple of days, and they’ll still bite it,” he said. “They will hit a old, nasty rotten shrimp.”
Typically, LaCoste fishes the jighead tightlined, especially in the deeper areas, but he employs a different method when fishing shallow water.
“We might pull up to a point over an oyster reef that’s 1-to 2 feet of water, and in those circumstances, we’re fishing under a cork,” he said.
Although sheepshead, drum and redfish are more powerful than speckled trout, LaCoste doesn’t change his rod, reel or line setup. He uses 7-foot medium-power rods, 2500 series Penn spinning reels and ties the jighead straight to braided line.
Sheepshead have a bad reputation as being difficult to clean, but according to LaCoste, that infamous characteristic isn’t warranted.
“The No. 1 reason we never used to keep a lot of sheepshead back in the day was because we had to clean them by hand, and they were hard to clean,” he said. “Now that we use the Ridgid Sawzall (knife), I’ll keep 50, 60, 70. It’s basically the same exact thing as if you were cleaning a redfish.”