Ray Chagnard rarely misses a week of fishing in Delacroix, and he said this is absolutely the best time to be there.
“So many more people fish in June and July than in the winter months, but the fishing is so much better in December and January,” said the owner of Chag’s Sporting Goods in Metairie. “You only have to run 10 minutes from the launch, and it’s all on plastics.”
And the menu is filled with speckled trout, redfish and bass.
“Everything comes inside with the fronts,” Chagnard explained. “It pushes the bait in, the water is low and everything is concentrated.”
If it’s a cold January, fish of all kinds will gang up in deep holes in the bends of natural bayous and canals. Places like the Twin Pipelines and Oak River hold treasure troves of fish.
“Oak River is always a top producer,” Chagnard said.
He said trout lounge in the depths, with the most-productive holes being near shallow water.
“If it warms up 8 to 10 degrees, they’ll hit those bays and start feeding,” Chagnard said.
But a lot of those fish will be throwbacks, so you’ll have to weed through a lot of trout to catch your limit.
Sticking with the deep holes, however, will yield a different result.
“Your bigger trout tend to stay deep,” Chagnard said. “You stick to running water around the points and bends, and you’ll catch fish.”
Redfish also begin schooling up, offering the opportunity to catch multiple fish in single locations. Spoons can be deadly when they’re shallow.
But while they’ll cruise the bays on warmer days, Chagnard said reds retreat to the same holes as trout when the temperatures are low.
Bass do the same, with bays holding a little leftover vegetation being best for warmer days, and deep water being the fall-back when the deep freeze kicks in.
Deep fishing is the same for all these species: Tight-lining jigs on the bottom.
“You’re just bumping the bottom,” Chagnard said. “If you find clams or oyster shells on the bottom, that’s a home run.”
Because the fish will be in current, upping your weight to get your lure to the fish, which are hugging the mud, is critical.
“You want enough weight to get to the bottom, but you don’t want to dog your bait down,” Chagnard explained.
Another key is your equipment: This isn’t a time to go with light-action rods because fish will not be hammering your lure.
“You want a medium or medium/heavy rod with a fast tip,” Chagnard said. “You want something you can cast with, but still have that sensitivity so you can feel the bite.
“If your rod is too flimsy, they can pick up your lure and spit it out without you knowing it.”
Braided line also helps.
“I like to tight-line with braid because it has more sensitivity,” he said.
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