At a time when it appears speckled trout fishermen are finding more of their quarry than they did a month ago — even in Delacroix and Hopedale — bass fishermen continue to moan and groan about how the high water in the major rivers have kept them wondering just when their favorite fishing holes will turn from sour to sweet.
Yes, Virginia, speckled trout are moving into a springtime pattern most coastal anglers have come to expect. Trout are showing up, although not in great numbers, from east of the Mississippi River west into Grand Isle, Fourchon and Terrebonne waters.
Wind and troublesome squall lines are downsides to this action: windy weekends have become the norm, and if you’re pegged into fishing Saturdays and Sundays, then you’re uttering the same litany of fishing sorrows as your freshwater-fishing buddies.
Don’t expect any changes: The weekend forecast calls for 15-20 knot north winds Friday with a shift to 10-15 knots from the east Saturday.
Rays of hope
Leave it to the Denham Spring-based Junior Southwest Bassmasters to point the way. Somehow the club’s organizers find the just-right place for the youngsters to learn the finer art of catching south Louisiana largemouths.
Just Saturday, 38 young fishermen and their adult “guides” pointed their tows to the Amelia public launch to fish the marsh, and their results proved there are places where bass are eager to take artificial offerings.
Club leader Jim Breaux reported the young fishermen brought in 14 five-bass limits, and 30 of them weighed at least one bass. That’s first-rate action for what can only be considered a down time for freshwater catches no matter what species is targeted.
“With the B.A.S.S. High School and Junior Bassmaster Louisiana state tournament in two weeks, the club used this month’s tournament as a scout trip for the state tournament,” Breaux reported. “With all the high water in the Belle River/Lake Verret/Bayou Black areas, 117 bass were weighed in and 100 percent were released alive to fight again.”
Most of the bass were on the smaller side: Connor Rushing’s five bass and 12.3 pounds topped the 15-18 year-old age group, and Luke Miller won the 11-14’s with five bass weighing 8.61 pounds.
There was one hefty largemouth, Brady Talbot’s 5.13-pounder.
Again, with so many young anglers and their guides, there were a several productive lures, mostly on spinnerbaits and crankbaits, creature baits like Speed Craws and D-Bombs, with some coming on frogs and the topwater Whopper Ploppers.
For information on this club, call Breaux at (225) 772-3026.
Persistent high water
Passing over the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers Monday, there doesn’t appear to be good news in the foreseeable future. The latest Mississippi River crest advisory is for a 41.5-foot level May 9 at Baton Rouge on the Mississippi River. The Bonnet Carre Spillway opening is keeping the New Orleans reading at 16.5 feet.
The Atchafalaya was running red, which means lots of Red River water moving into the swamps.
And on the Belle River side, Doiron’s Landing remains closed with no-wake zones posted throughout those waters.
Hymel’s the champ
Norco angler Justin Hymel outcaught the other 189 Nonboater Division anglers to take the division’s title in last weekend’s TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional on Lake Guntersville in Alabama.
Hymel was third after the first round with a three-bass, 11-pound, 15-ounce catch, brought in 9-2 on Day 2, then added another 11-9 on the final day for a 32-10 total. David Staffford from Team Texas was second at 30-13.
The way the B.A.S.S. Nation Central works is 19 states send 10-angler teams each to compete in Boater and Nonboater divisions. The top man from each state qualifies for the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship set Nov. 6-8 on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina, where top finishers move to the Bassmaster Classic.
Howard Hartley of Patterson was Louisiana’s Boater Division qualifier. He finished fourth overall among the 190 “boater” anglers, and was tied for third, but lost out to heaviest-single-day-catch tiebreaker. Hartley had a 49-6 three-day total and moves to the nationals.
The top “boater” man was Texan James Biggs. He competed from the Oklahoma team, which claimed the team championship.
Like Biggs, Jason Pittman, of Covington, was a member of the Mississippi team and earned that state team’s berth in the nationals. He finished 11th in the Boater field with 43-7 total. Bailey Madere of Madisonville also competed for the Mississippi team and finished third on his team’s Nonboater list.
For Hymel, the win came from persistence and endurance. While “boater” anglers have a five-fish daily limit, “nonboater” fishermen had three.
“I didn’t catch my last (second-day) keeper until 10 minutes left to fish; I caught my last (final-day) keeper about 30 minutes before check in,” Hymel said of his down-to-the-wire win. “Keep your head in it every time. You never know, so don’t give up.”
Hymel told B.A.S.S. reporters he caught most of his fish on a wacky-rigged stickworm, but switched to a Texas-rigged Missile Baits Baby D Stroyer, a Texas-rigged Dialed Baits ArmBreaker and his third on a wacky-rigged ArmBreaker.