The Vermilion Bay speckled trout fishery is known for two things. First, it produces a lot of big specks. Second, it’s a highly seasonal fishery.
From sometime in December until July (in an average year), high Atchafalaya River discharges turn the bay and the waters over the famed nearshore Marsh Island reefs into a muddy freshwater mess — with lots of catfish and some redfish but no speckled trout.
Team Bone-A-Fide Smasher Speckled Trout Fishing Team doesn’t mess around in the bay — never.
Not even when the river is low and the fishing inshore is hotter than a $2 pistol.
They go offshore.
Until the river drops (the magic mark is 10 feet at the Butte Larose gauge), speckled trout fishermen are forced to fish offshore. But most of them look forward to the green water moving in after the river drop that allows them to fish closer.
Not these guys.
“I like it because I have this fishery figured out,” Shane Zeringue said about offshore trout fishing. “Plus, I like the whole boat-ride thing.
“And another 30 miles out, I can catch mangrove snappers.”
At the mention of mangrove snappers, Lane LeMaire’s ears perked up.
“Yeah! If the weather is flat and we catch a limit of trout, or if the trout bite is slow, we boogie out there,” LeMaire said.
There’s a simple reason why the team of anglers points their boat southward.
“The good thing out here,” Casey McLaurin said, “is that you never have to measure (trout). The smallest fish are 16 to 17 inches.”
“On the other hand,” Zeringue said, “you don’t catch many over 4½ pounds out here. For some reason, 6-pound trout are caught inshore.”
Zeringue’s comment didn’t throw cold water on LeMaire’s ebullience.
“Another good thing is that you catch bigger numbers, LeMaire said. “You limit out more often. You can catch 100 trout just like that.”
He snapped his fingers as he finished the statement.
All three men agreed that it isn’t uncommon to limit out on trout by 9 a.m.
Offshore trout fishing south of Marsh Island is focused on man-made structures: working oil and gas platforms, as well as former platform sites.
The target depth for their offshore trout fishing is 15 to 20 feet of water. During the course of a fishing season, they will range from the Eugene Island platforms in the east to the platforms in the South Marsh Island and Vermilion Blocks.
Speckled trout fishing seems to be best in the east early in their season and improve gradually going to the west as the season wears on until they end fishing on Labor Day.