The dateline could read somewhere on the water in southern Terrebonne Parish.
To be more specific we were fishing in water that once was Raccoon Island, the last spit of land in what was a many-miles-long Last Island.
Bull redfish covered the reef and were hungry, and George Landry had enough blue crabs to keep four anglers busy for the nearly two hours between first light and the few minutes around 8 a.m. when the redfish decided they’d had enough of cracked crab on a hook.
Redfish up to 34 pounds were caught and released: Four boats, 15 fishermen, and from a quick count, as many as 30 bull reds stretched lines and strained muscles.
OK, so it’s 8 o’clock and let’s go find more fish. A radio call from Whiskey Pass at the western end of Trinity Island surprised Landry. Speckled trout were near the beach and feeding on shrimp. Birds were working the area that was a 10-minute trip across the Last Island chain and Whiskey Pass.
The trout were there, busting shrimp of a size that would be better served in a restaurant than to a hungry trout.
“This is the first time in at least two weeks that we’ve seen trout like this around here,” Landry said.
Charter skipper Bill Lake was more than surprised to see limits and near limits from the four boats that returned to his Bayou Dularge dock within sight of the end of the land in Terrebonne Parish.
“Catching speckled trout was a surprise, and a great surprise. August is a tough month for speckled trout,” Lake said adding that September is troublesome, too.
There are several reasons to explain why trout-rich places like lakes Pelto and Barre and Caillou Boca toughen on trout. Water temperatures are hot and trout are nearing the end of three months of spawning rituals. Speckled trout start spawning as early as late April in some Louisiana waters and can continue to spawn into September.
This year there are several other possible explanations for Saturday’s surprise on the end of Trinity Island, not the least of which was that the water there was the cleanest for miles — pretty, green water that was holding lots of trout food.
Another was that Wednesday and Thursday were void of violent thunderstorms, the rain and wind so common across the southern parishes for the past three weeks. Winds and roiling seas break up schools of bait (shrimp, mullet, pogeys) which, in turn, breaks up the big schools of hungry trout. So, instead of catching trout by the dozens in one place, frustrated fishermen must run from spot to spot to pick up two fish here and maybe five fish there.
For now, the trout are near the islands again. White shrimp are moving into the marshes. The Fall Inshore Shrimp season is set to open at 6 a.m. Aug. 22. By that time, the small white shrimp will be large enough to spark the interest of catchable trout.