Weather can still be a trip-wrecker in April, but follow this guide’s advice to learn how you can still put together plenty of reds and trout without burning a lot of fuel.
With not a ripple on the surface or a cloud in the sky, Capt. Charlie Thomason took his bay boat down a shoreline of Hopedale.
The slick-calm conditions allowed him to throw his cork-suspended live shrimp right up against the shoreline. He aggressively worked his popping cork, and within a few casts, he had a golden redfish peeling drag off his Quantam Smoke spinning reel.
Thomason grabbed the fish, tossed it in the ice chest and continued to mosey down the tide-absent broken-marsh shoreline.
He and his guests were picking off redfish, sheepshead and a few speckled trout — but the best was yet to come.
Thomason steered his boat toward a hard-current point with his trolling motor. He and his guests made casts, and almost instantly they hit the ace-in-the-hole, with their popping corks being dunked just about every cast.
The little current that existed was concentrated around the point, and the bait had nowhere to hide from predator fish as starving as Miley Cryus is for attention.
The anglers quickly loaded the ice chest with gobs of redfish, bass and speckled trout.
They were back at the dock with a heavy cooler before most people had even arrived at work.
The trip was just a typical April outing in Thomason’s Hopedale waters. The veteran guide finds some extremely good redfish, drum and speckled trout action this time of year.
While most bay boat anglers are itching to head outside, the wind in April doesn’t always make it easy to get there. But that’s no problem for Thomason because he finds plenty of fish still on the inside.
“Most of the fish on the interior are going to be in transition,” he said. “Some of the fish will be shallow and some of the fish will be in their wintertime patterns, but they will start suspending.”
Because some of fish suspend over deep holes, changing up your jighead size is vital, or else you’ll be fishing for the wintertime bottom fish that aren’t there.
“In the winter, I normally throw a 3/8-ounce jighead,” Thomason said. “(But in April) you need to change up and use lighter jigheads — 1/8-ounce or ¼-ounce — to where the bait actually floats along the bottom and free-lines so that these fish that might be suspended 4 or 5 feet off the bottom in 12 feet of water, you can catch them.”
Thomason also said a popping cork fished over the deep holes will give the soft-plastic the same effect of suspending.
He prefers new penny/chartreuse Gulp soft-plastics on his jigheads.
“That lure does really well for me this time of year,” Thomason said. “It gives me that chartreuse triggering effect, and that new penny shows up and silhouettes really well in deep water because it has glow in it.”
Speckled trout are finicky fish, and some days they simply refuse to bite.
But fortunately in Hopedale the redfish action is spectacular in April, according to Thomason.
Finding points in the marsh is one of the keys, Thomason said.
“A lot of times during April, your bait is going to start showing up — mullet and shrimp — and what will happen is whenever you have really good hard-current points where the current is moving across the point that’s in a bay that is 2 to 5 feet deep, those points are going to produce redfish, drum and trout,” he explained.
The best distance off the bank to target depends on the species you want to catch.
“If you are looking for redfish, you want to throw really tight to the bank,” Thomason said. “If I want to catch specks, then I’ll come in and bring my boat right up to the point. I like to throw out away from the point along the current line, and the trout normally hold on the current line.”
April is a month where we aren’t really in the harsh winter like we were in January, but we aren’t completely out of the woods as far as cold weather.
And, while he said fronts do impact the fishing, if you know what to look for those weather systems aren’t necessarily a negative.
“When targeting trout, the key is finding clean water when a front passes,” Thomason said. “The majority of the time (clean water) is going to be found in shallower areas, like smaller bays and lakes where they don’t get turned up as bad and the water doesn’t move through as much.
“On the redfish side, I think fronts help us out because they keep the water low, so it concentrates the redfish. It keeps them on points and coves, where they have a little bit of moving water.”
When targeting redfish, Thomason said it’s not the end of the world if you look down and see dirty water in April.
“The redfish don’t mind the dirty water, and they will actually stay in it,” he said. “You have to not get worried about the dirty water because that is going to happen a lot in April with the fronts.”
Looking for bait is one simple thing every angler can do to greatly increase chances of catching fish.
“If you are looking for bait in April, you want to look for mullet,” Thomason said. “You’re not going to see a whole lot of shrimp. Our water temperatures will still be in the low 60s.”
That’s particularly true early in the month. As April moves along, however, shrimp become a bigger player in the ecosystem.
You can also expect the size of the fish to go up as South Louisiana moves deeper into spring, the guide said.
“Your size of your fish will increase from what it was in the wintertime because some of those larger trout will start showing up and getting out of being dormant,” Thomason said. “I think bottom-fishing, the majority of the fish are going to be smaller — school trout — but high numbers of them.
“However, if you are fishing flats with Corkys, Catch 5s or any kind of suspending, hard bait, you will catch your larger trout along open bays with some grass, oysters and mullet in the area.”
And bait size matters, he said.
“If you use big baits, you are going to catch big fish, hands down,” Thomason said. “You always hear that, and it definitely holds true in months like April, when the fish are coming out of a dormant period.
“They are hungry, and if you throw something big out there, they are going to eat it.”
As far as twitch baits are concerned, Thomason is a huge fan of the Paul Brown’s Fat Boys, as well as Catch 5s and Catch 2000s.