Fishing guides offer tips during tough conditions _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by JOE MACALUSO -- After Baton Rouge physican and fishing rodeo veteran J.J. Tabor hefted this giant Warsaw grouper to the scales at the Port Fourchon Marina for the final day of the 2015 Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo, young Alayna Lefort from Lake Charles took the dare to lie down next to the 206-pound rodeo winner. The 7-year-old Our Lady Queen of Heaven Elementary second grader fished in the rodeo's Chidlren's Division.

After exploring the waters east of Timbalier Bay last week, it’s time to turn to the waters to the western side of the state for a mid-summer report on catches and the folks who pursue speckled trout.

From Bill Lake south of Houma at Theriot and Steve Smith, who calls Cypremort Point his home (he also fishes Calcasieu Lake), the main complaint has been wind and dirty waters.

The Atchafalaya River continues on a rise the duration of which goes back to 1983 for sustained high water and still-rising water.

Lake, at Bayou Guide Service in Theriot — (985) 851-6015/website: www.captlake.com — described June as a “hit or miss month ... one day we’re catching 100 trout, and the next day 10, and the next day 100 and the next day 30.

“It’s just that inconsistent. The good days are when we can catch the wind right and the water is green,” Lake said.

Their main summertime targets are newly laid reefs at The Pickets and the old Mardi Gras platform west of Last Island, and Lake said hard winds, rough seas and muddy water have cut trips there.

“Traditionally we catch fish there all the way to end of July and catches taper off by the full moon in August,” Lake said.

Pointing to the remainder of the summer, Lake and his crew, when not able to get to the 8-12 foot depths at The Pickets, are staying inside and taking redfish limits.

“Now that the water is getting hotter and the fish are pulling off the artificial reeds, we’ll move out to deeper water, out to the Ship Shoal (block) 33 area,” Lake said. “We don’t have the live bait here that other areas have, so we use artificials.”

There is a live-bait boat in Caillou Bay, but Lake said it’s out of the way, and he doesn’t like missing the first two hours of the morning to secure live bait.

He said the most productive baits are double-rigged Bayou Chub (soft-plastic) Minnows, Cajun pepper color and chartreuse tail, on quarter-ounce jigheads and the Wedgetail Mullet, the chicken-on-a-chain color.

“Fishing is still good when we have the right conditions,” Lake said. “When it gets too hot in late August, we’ll switch gears to redfish through September until the trout start showing up on the inside.”

Charter skipper Wendy Billiot — Bayou Woman Guides, (985) 688-7965 — said the Bayou Dularge trout reports are the same Lake’s from the Theriot area.

At Cypremort, Smith — (337) 654-3880/website: www.captainstevesmith.com — said Vermilion Bay has “not produced well at all. If we get a west wind, then it blows in some clean water, but the (Atchafalaya) river is still high, and all the torrential rains we had in June have kept this area high and muddy.

“I expect this to be the usual high-water year, in that trout will show up in late September and we’ll whack whack them through October, November and December,” Smith said.