Trout photo

A bundled-against-the-cold Troy Doucet shows off this solid, midwinter speckled trout he caught in the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet on a trip with fishing buddy John Kendrick.

Speckled trout have been tough to come by this winter across the Louisiana coast, but you wouldn’t know that by the slime in John Kendrick’s ice chest.

For the past four weeks, the Lacombe resident has been catching limits in an area that’s popular with local anglers, but he’s mostly been using a extraordinarily patient technique that escapes most other fishermen.

Kendrick has been starting his trips at South Shore Bait & Marina on the shores of Chef Pass adjacent to historic Fort Macomb, but he hasn’t been fishing that specific area.

“The (Intracoastal Waterway) is filthy, maybe from opening the locks on the Mississippi,” he said. “I don’t know exactly why, but it’s pretty funky.”

So Kendrick has been running to the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, a place many anglers feel has dried up in recent weeks. But he’s not fishing the way most of those anglers are.

Kendrick is throwing jerkbaits, which is a popular pattern in the MRGO, but he’s fishing them painfully slowly.

“Take (Sunday) for example,” Kendrick said. “The tide was falling pretty hard, so you needed just a ton of patience. You really had to wait a while to let it get down, and the tide fell hard all day. It seemed like it never did slow down.”

Kendrick was throwing a Marsh Cricket-colored (green) Matrix Minnow, a lure that has a natural slow fall that’s accelerated when it’s twitched.

He found the fish in water 10-to-12 feet deep, but the fish were holding about 8 feet down. Oh, no! Suspended fish, the most difficult pattern to catch fish.

“It was a very light bite,” he said. “I’m not exactly sure why because it was fairly warm. It was odd. When you fish hard baits, you normally feel that smack, but you wouldn’t feel the bite. There would just be pressure, almost like a (Trestles) bite. It was very strange.”

What was also unique was that the fish didn’t want any lures that got down to them quickly.

“They wanted a slow, slow fall,” he said. “I tried throwing a MirrOlure 52M — something that was more of a fast sinker — and they wouldn’t touch it. I also tried to add weight to the Matrix Minnow to get it down faster because of how hard that current was ripping, and I didn’t get a bite. It had to be a slow fall.”

On Sunday, Kendrick also tried an avocado/glow soft-plastic on a 5/16-ounce jighead, and caught several fish on that, too.

“They would kind of go from one to the other, but the jerkbaits definitely outperformed the jigs overall,” he said.

The key to the soft-plastic bite was to make sure the lure passed right in front of the fish’s face.

“It wasn’t so much a twitch or a jerk; it was a hop off the bottom,” Kendrick said. “You had to get it up two feet off the bottom.”

Kendrick has been doing well along the rocks outside of the wall, but Sunday, he also caught some inside the wall near the old Bayou Bienvenue lock.

Despite the recent warm-up, water temperature Sunday was only 56 degrees, Kendrick said. Also, the water was clean, but not green, he said.

If there was a negative to Sunday’s trip, it was the size of the speckled trout, according to Kendrick.

“They were running a little bit small,” he said. “We did have a lot of throwbacks. We hit some patches of bigger trout, and they came from right off the rocks, which is typical.”

Although the good action at the MRGO has a shelf life, the end is not imminent, Kendrick said.

“I’ll be doing this another month, or until something happens in (Lake Pontchartrain),” he said. “I guess that means I might be there another two months.”

Where to launch

In addition to South Shore Bait & Marina, anglers may also access the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet from Chef Harbor Marina on U.S. 90 in eastern New Orleans and Eddie Pinto’s and Bait, Inc., on Paris Road just south of the “green bridge” over the Intracoastal Waterway.

The run from any of those marinas is in protected waters.