Speckled trout along the Central Coast left even veteran fishermen scratching their heads last week.
The previous week, trout from Four Bayous Pass west into Timbalier Bay singled out live croakers for their favorite early morning meal.
Usually, the bait big-time trout fishermen call “Grand Isle croaker,” are sent hunting a trout bite on a Carolina rig - egg sinker rigged in front of a glass bead, a barrel swivel, a length of fluorocarbon leader tied onto a trout-snatching hook. Two weeks ago, the most unusual live-croaker-under-a-cork trick worked on specks up to four pounds. Not last week, at least not in most places.
“It was live shrimp or nothing,” charter skipper Frank Dreher said. “No live shrimp, no fish. Some soft plastics (artificial lures), and you could use the Gulp! Shrimp (artificial with scent attractant), but (trout) want live shrimp.”
Why the change?
Here’s a possibility: Two weeks ago, June’s full moon was moving water from the bays and marshes. Shrimp move on this full moon’s tide and hit Louisiana’s coastal waters (the Gulf of Mexico) in big numbers. It’s a feast for man and fish alike.
For the last 40 some-odd years of catching trout, the weeks after full and new moon phases in May, June, July and, to a lesser extent, in August and September, most trout have shrimp in their stomachs when they hit the fish-cleaning table.
The other two months of these months, croaker and live pogeys will catch big trout.
OK, so the two top teams in last week’s Catholic High Alumni Rodeo snatched their respective 18.25 and 17.95-pound five-trout stringers on live croaker, but the majority of the fish, even some four- pounders that showed up in other boats, ate live shrimp.
At the cleaning shed, Sam Barbera produced trout after trout with 16-30 count shrimp - good enough for a cocktail or remoulade - inside trout.
That 18-pound stringer came from Team Tide 1 On, and top hand Eric Coco said all their big trout came on “?hand-caught croaker. We spent a lot of time culling through them to get the right sized croaker we wanted to use.”
The near-18-pound stringer came from Pete McKnight, Billy Rapp and Hillar Moore (yes, the D.A.) on live croaker worked in the surf along Fourchon beach. McKnight anchored his Carolina Skiff close enough to be able to cast into the breaking rollers behind the sunken barges/rockpiles that dot The Fourchon. That and produced the 4.15 pounder Moore caught to take the rodeo’s second-place trout.
So, from Wednesday’s Central Coast reports, it looks like trout have switched back to feeding on a combination of croaker, small pogeys and shrimp, but with a new moon scheduled Friday, next week’s bill of fare for specks might be all shrimp, all the time.
Saturday opens Geaux Fish and Labor Day (Sept. 5) ends Louisiana’s second months-long fishing extravaganza that bellies up with the summer-long CCA-sponsored S.T.A.R.
Geaux Fish’s top prizes are centered around 50 specially tagged specked trout, one of which could be worth $250,000.
Geaux Fish is a partnership between the Louisiana Charter Boat Association (LCBA) and BP (of BP-Deepwater Horizon fame) and Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists tagged the 50 speckled trout that have been released in coastal waters from Breton Sound west to Calcasieu Lake.
Five other trout are tagged for major prizes like a new Ford truck, a Blazer Bay boat and $5,000 cash with the other 44 trout tagged for cash and prizes. If the $250-grand fish is caught with the LCBA member skipper, the angler can add another $25,000 to his or her take.
Registration is open to anyone with a valid fishing license, but fishermen must be registered and have accepted the rules and regulations to be eligible to receive prizes.
For rules, go to website: www.GeauxFish2011.com.
The growth of the St. Aloysius Father-Daughter Fishing Rodeo and last week’s CHS event - the latter drew a record 317 anglers - can only serve as a billboard for other Capital City area groups to take a stab at a fun-filled fundraiser. Both events were held at Moran’s Marina and were successful despite going head-to-head with more well-established fishing events.
Catholic’s rodeo was as competitive as ever, with Team Tide 1 On taking the trout and redfish calcuttas.
A tip of the cap goes to Rudy Valenciano and his all-family team for a five mangrove snapper stringer weighing 53.75 pounds, a rodeo record that bettered his team’s 52-plus pounds two years ago.
Like most rodeos, the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil disaster cancelled last year’s St. Aloysius and CHS gatherings, and both came back strong with first-rate catches throughout their leaderboards.
South Pass warning
The U.S. Coast Guard, working with the Corps of Engineers, made changes to aids to navigation within South Pass and its approaches Tuesday.
The USCG station in New Orleans identified what it called “severe shoaling in South Pass?making it impossible to ensure that navigational aids adequately mark safe routes through the pass.”
The report noted depths as low as two feet in the center channel in the pass.
“We are strongly encouraging all mariners in the region to avoid South Pass,” USCG Capt. John Arenstam said. “Hydrographic surveys from Corps of Engineers have indicated many areas of less than six feet exist in the Pass.”