Had trouble fighting the southwest winds on the coast? Having trouble finding speckled trout?

Well, we’ve got the cure for those angling blues, an elixir sure to put a bend in your fishing rods.

The Verret Basin

Steve Fontana is the guy with his finger on the pulse of this vast stretch of water, and his good news is, for the first time in nearly three months, the No Wake Zone signs have been removed.

“Guys are running up and down the river,” Fontana said talking about Belle River. “And the fish are biting.”

Not just one species. Bass, sac-a-lait, catfish and bluegill are there for the taking and, to the point, Lake Verret, Grassy Lake and Lake Palourde are equally productive.

“With the water falling now everybody is taking advantage of it,” Fontana said. “The water remains high, but it’s fishable and the water is pretty throughout the Basin.”

His report came on the heels of a top-drawer catch of sac-a-lait Friday with his old buddy Brad Bouy, and their catches in Sunday’s “Boomie” Chustz Memorial “classic.”

Bouy teamed with Chuck Ballard for a first-place, 14.05-pound catch. Fontana and his tournament partner, Gene Andre, were second at 13.19 pounds, and Spencer Gremillion and Pat Rachal came in third at 11.72 and had the day’s big fish, a 4.44-pounder.

“We had a (five bass) limit by 7 o’clock, and once the sun got up, once it his 9 o’clock, it was pretty much over,” Fontana said. “It was typical. The shad were up (in shallower water) early and when the sun hit the water, the shad move to deeper water and the bass follow, or the bass move deep under the hyacinths and get hard to catch.”

Fontana said he and Bouy decided on their sac-a-lait expedition to split Lake Verret in half for Sunday’s event; Fontana took the north end and Bouy and Ballard the southern half.

“I got worried, because we didn’t get a bite in the first 20 minutes (Sunday morning), and I told Gene we had to move,” Fontana said. “When I saw the first bird (egret) on a wad of grass I knew the shad were there and it was bang, bang, bang for the next hour.

“By 9 (a.m.), we had 30 bass, and if we’d had a day like Monday or Tuesday (heavy cloud cover), there’s no telling how many fish we could have caught.”

There’s more, a lot more.

Fontana’s Friday story begins with his deep-down belief that live shiners are the best way to catch big Verret Basin sac-a-lait.

“I know a lot of guys who believe jigs are the way to go, and that’s OK,” Fontana said. “I like live bait and like big shiners, because big fish eat big baits.

“And the sac-a-lait are just like the bass, a lot of action early, then the move to deeper areas. We had all those sac-a-lait by 8:45 (a.m. Friday), and when we cleaned the sac-a-lait, we found they were eating the same-sized shad as the bass.”

He works the shiners on light line, no more than 8-pound test, and with a slip cork that allows his to work the shiner into various depths.

“It works on other species, too. Catfish and bass will eat the live bait,” he said. “And what we’re seeing now is, with the water falling, guys will be able to go after their favorite fish whether it be bass, catfish, sac-a-lait or bream, but watch out for the gar because they’re eating, too.”

For bass, it’s spinnerbait and buzzbait action in the early morning, and the guys who stay on the water after 9 o’clock have to go to slower baits like Texas-rigged plastics and flukes.

Florida parishes

Jeff Bruhl has a cure for the folks to the east of Baton Rouge, and the Covington angler said the biggest news coming from the Florida parishes rivers is an 8-pound bass came from Lock 1 on the Pearl River last week.

“That’s not the case anywhere else,” he said. “There’s a good early morning bite on topwaters in the Tickfaw and Tangipahoa (rivers) and they’re catching numbers of 10-14 inch bass. Maybe you can catch a little bigger fish on buzzbaits.”

Bruhl often checks with longtime fishing buddy Rodney Teal for other spots, and he said Teal told him of catching as many as 50 bass in the early morning in the Pass Manchac area.

As for the Pearl River, Bruhl said, “It was back up and muddy, but there are some fish coming from the lower Pearl. The water stayed a little cleaner there, but I’m expecting the place to explode in the next few days when the water levels drop and it starts clearing up again."

Bruhl said the constant muddy water throughout the Pearl system has kept bream and goggle-eye reports to a minimum, but for the most part the other rivers are productive.

“There are times when you get a good tide movement that the action continues into the morning, and there are times when you find schooling fish and you work them with flukes or floating worms, but there’s been little action on spinnerbaits,” Bruhl said. “But if you want to fish into the late morning, get slow with a Sinko or a Texas-rigger worm."