Trolling for springtime trout

Many anglers love to know great fishing locations, and although that’s certainly important, avid angler Stan Mathes puts a lot of thought into his technique this time of year.

In fact, despite the relatively chilly month, he throws topwater baits to big speckled trout in the marshes around Delacroix, Hopedale and Pointe a la Hache.

He said there’s one factor, though, out of anglers’ control that can have a big impact on the fishing in the area.

“The biggest factor now, with all the breaks in the river and levees on the east side, is how much river water comes down because the river water is so much colder,” he said.

Assuming the river is down, Mathes fishes the inside marsh, and finds water clarity to be ultra important.

“I will start fishing the inside bays where I can find clean water,” he said.

When drifting in the bays, Mathes throws MirrOlure She Dogs in bone and purple colors.

Mathes said anglers shouldn’t expect to catch numbers of trout, but the quality can be impressive.

“You might only catch 15 or 20 fish, but I’m talking solid 2-, 3-, 4-pound fish,” he said. “There’s nothing better than a topwater strike.”

Generally, topwater baits catch much larger trout than soft-plastic swimbaits, and Mathes thinks it’s purely due to the size of the lure.

“Every now and then you get a smaller trout that thinks he’s King Kong and he’s going to hit it, but the big fish that can handle a bait that’s 4, 5, 6 inches long — you’re going to (catch) them,” he said.

Bigger baits allow fish to expel less energy, and get more food for the calories burned chasing it.

“Those are the big trout that made the winter in the marsh, they’re hungry, and they need something big to eat,” Mathes said. “They’re not looking for a half-inch shrimp coming out the marsh.”

Many elements have to line up for topwater fishing to be good, and if Mathes isn’t having success on topwater, he opts for a different method.

“If I can’t find them on the top, I’ll troll for them,” he said. “I love to troll in the springtime.”

Mathes trolls in canals and deep passes all across the marsh. When doing so, he likes to troll a variety of baits behind the boat.

“I usually put out four lines: I’ll put out a Rat-L-Trap, a sinking MirrOlure and a couple of pieces of plastic.”

Although he experiments, he doesn’t feel like having tons of different colors is necessary during the colder months.

“A lot of times that time of year, they’re not particular because they’re so damn hungry, they’ll eat anything that moves.”

One of the biggest keys when trolling is going at the correct speed. Most boats can’t go slow enough with an outboard, so Mathes, along with many other trollers, relies on his trolling motor.

“I don’t like to go anything less than 1.5 mph, and I don’t like to do anything over 2 mph,” he said. “Optimal for me is about 1.8, and I can do that with my trolling motor.”

About Joel Masson 167 Articles
Joel Masson is an avid angler who has fished South Louisiana his whole life. He lives in Mandeville and can be reached at

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