Shane Zeringue, Casey McLaurin and Lane LeMaire fish with very few artificial lures, although they admitted speckled trout where they fish can be caught with fakes.
“Sometimes someone comes with us who just likes to fish plastic,” LeMaire said. “They catch fish, too.”
There’s no beating the real thing, however.
“(Y)ou catch more and larger fish with live bait,” Zeringue said. “Our preferred live bait is croakers.”
McLaurin agreed, but pointed out that croakers can be hard to come by.
“Few places over here sell them,” he said.
Zeringue explained why.
“The trout fishery here isn’t year-round; it doesn’t pay for someone to buy and rig a bait boat to catch them,” he said. “And it doesn’t pay to get set up to properly hold live bait.”
The men routinely travel as far as Chauvin in Terrebonne Parish to buy 1,000 croakers at a time from places like Bait House Seafood and Cajun Bait, hauling them back to Cypremort Point in a 200-gallon aerated circular tank in the back of a truck.
According to McLaurin, the trick is to keep the water cool.
“O’Neil and Symantha Sevin of Bait House Seafood will freeze seawater for purchasers,” he said. “We add some when we pick up the croakers and some more halfway back.
“At the baitshop, they hold croakers in refrigerated tanks.”
The three men marveled in almost awed tones at the efficiency of the Sevin’s bait system and the longevity of the croakers purchased from them.
“If we have to buy croakers from other places, we put ice in the largest size zipper-type plastic bags that we can find and add those to the water,” Zeringue said. “When the ice melts, it doesn’t dilute the seawater or add chlorine to the bait tank.”
When they can’t get croakers, they purchase cocahoe minnows instead.
“They are easier to find, hardy and live well,” Zeringue said.
But compared to croakers, they have some disadvantages.
“I don’t think that trout bite them as well as croakers or even live shrimp,” Zeringue explained. “Trout average larger on croakers, too. The larger the croaker, the larger the trout.”
Another option the anglers exercise occasionally is to throw cast nets for bait at weirs on Marsh Island. Cast -netting produces shrimp, mullets, croakers and pogies, the latter of which are very good bait but difficult to keep alive.
No matter what the bait they use, their rigging is the same: Carolina rigs on the bottom.
They are built with 18 inches of 20-pound-test Vanish fluorocarbon line, tipped with a 2/0 snelled kahle hook.
The other end of the leader has a stainless steel swivel on it. Before the swivel is tied to the main line, they thread a ¾- or 1-ounce egg sinker on the line.
They always make their leaders before the trip and store them on Tackle Buddies to save time when they lose a rig during a hot trout bite.
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