As is typical of late summer, the redfish bite is improving in the Hopedale marsh with better quality fish. But sometimes you have to wait them out and search. Last weekend made a solo trip, to Lake Robin hitting ponds and the shoreline. Had to stick and move, run away from trash fish (cats, ladyfish, pinfish, 6-inch trout) and the first red didn't hit the box for two hours when the tide started falling. Got a limit, but the redfish bite didn't peak until 10AM. Also bumped into the first keeper trout school of the season, including a 2.5 lb yellowmouth.
This week Hermine pushed lots of water in, so Jerry joined me with the plan to get them early and beat the heat. We were in Lake Robin by 6AM, but again nothing for two hours. Later I noticed Jerry had a banana in the icechest, and now the heat was on and no tide movement. The trash fish were even more vicious. It was not looking good.
Made the decision to at least run away from the trash fish, and went to the marsh north of Lake Coquille. Its a very remote area with narrow bayous, and I nailed at least three gar (thump, thump, thump) which in my books makes the day a success. Still, we needed some reds in the ice chest. It started off slow, but the trash fish were gone and we had some boils at the corks....there was hope. One finally was hooked and I threw him on the banana to make a future daiquiri for some crabs. I thought with the water high they may be at a dead end, and success. As we drifted the dead end pond the corks suddenly were going down, and it was on. We limited out with 20-24 inch slots just in time to head in...there was no wind, no clouds, a beating sun, hard on the system of us older men. When I cleaned the reds, they were full of minnows, so the school had corralled them in the dead end and were going to town.
Its easy to find our spot. Just looking for the banana peel on the pond shoreline in the Coquille marsh.
LAS has been posting an increasing number of teaser articles on the front page. That's fine, as LAS needs to make money too. But please label them as such. The articles start out great, then you scroll down, and find out the rest can only be viewed by buying the magazine. That's a frustrating waste of time to the reader.
I guess I just won't read any articles on the front page anymore. But that's something for LAS to think about. Full-length (and very good) articles are mixed with previews. Just make a distinction between the full articles and the teasers in the labeling. Otherwise, probably most will just skip reading all of them.
Noticed in the Advocate today that Entergy is planning to shutdown its Michoud plant. So does the Hotwater Canal just become a canal? Or perhaps the canal is not part of the main plant? Could be the end of an occasionally great winter spot.
Saturday morning Jerry and I launched out of BSM. We thought about following the flotilla down the back canal to try for speckled logs at the rocks, but elected to go for the mixed box close in. We still found some scattered nice trout in the Lake Robin area (all with eggs, so the rest will be going outside soon). We also got some sheephead and drum.
The reds refused to bite right away, which happens sometimes on a full moon - they feed at night. Usually the reds start at 10AM after a full moon, which is what happened. We got six nice ones, threw back a few more (including 16 inchers), then headed in with a full box.
We tried edging further out, but found dirty water in Coquille and some waves in the east wind, so turned around. Glad we didn't join the flotilla.
Most of the fish were in bayous connecting to ponds, or later in ponds when the water came up. Only used 4 gallons of gas.
Scouted Hopedale Saturday afternoon for 3 hours. Stayed very close with rain in the area for a mixed catch of trout, reds, a sheephead, and a bass.. First bass in that area for me. Lost some reds, must be rusty. BSM now has live shrimp and that's what the trout wanted
Also, another fixture is gone. The refinery near Shell Beach is being dismantled. It will be strange not seeing it anymore while driving to the marinas.
Three afternoon Hopedale fishing reports, been focusing first on drum and sheephead to stock the freezer, then giving the trout and reds a short go. All caught on live or fresh shrimp. The afternoon lets the water warm up and there is less boat activity.
Dec. 30 did a solo trip in the Bayou Bernard area - the sheephead were gone and all trout were 8 inches. Jumped north to St. Malo sheephead hole, and it was on, but medium size, first clue the females are leaving to spawn offshore. Stopped at 11 sheephead. Then fished Loutre for a few trout, one nice red, and some throwback reds. Just drifted bait under a cork along the shoreline dropoffs north of Engineers.
January 2 both my daughters joined me. It takes a while to get them in the truck, they want to be pretty for the pelicans. Rain was coming so we had to be efficient. Went to a couple St. Malo sheephead holes for 4 sheephead and 1 drum. Moved close to marina at a lagoon off the back-levee canal for a planned quick getaway. Good news - the trout cooperated. We got 6 keepers plus some more throwbacks in 25 minutes, then had to bolt.
January 4 my wife joined me. She also wanted to be pretty for the pelicans, got on water at 1PM. Headed to St. Malo...sheephead almost gone, just two. But the drum were steady with eight 20-23 inchers. Then headed to Bayou Loutre. Fished the shoreline dropoffs along the trees with shrimp under a cork and got three 23-25 inch reds plus throwbacks. Only one trout. Since I had brought the smaller icechest, we were done at 3:45PM.
Fishing usually starts getting inconsistent in the marsh by the second week of January, and with this arctic air on the way, the old boat/truck will take a break and get some maintenance/fixing. Lights, bilge pump, reels, steering, tires, muffler are all screaming for replacements. Shoot, even the bolts on the fishing net are broke. That's called fishing til you drop. Be back at it in March. Well, perhaps sooner :) Everyone keep those reports coming.
Fished Hopedlae Saturday. Once again, had it to myself with the 100% chance of rain, ha. It rarely rains all day, just need to be patient. The rain ended at 10AM, then it was overcast with some drizzle the rest of the day, perfect.
Found trout in many places in Bayou Bernard, but all throwbacks. Fish are right on the bottom over oyster reefs. Could not find any hungry reds. Salvaged the trip with sheephead over oyster reefs. Going to flash-freeze the sheephead fillets, fishing season mostly over for me after after Jan. 5. According to my fishing logs, the bite gets too inconsistent after that for trout/reds and the sheephead go offshore. That is, unless the reds stack up somewhere on those frigid days :)
Two more trips planned before then, though.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Looked like the rain was mostly going to hold off until evening, so did a solo pre-frontal trip out of Hopedale Tuesday. Plan was to stay close to marina in case bad weather broke out. First hit the sheephead hole in St. Malo
all small the first wave of spawners has moved offshore. Hopefully there will be more schools soon. Then tried for some trout
all (very much) throwbacks. Time for a new strategy
.then saw heavy rain on radar coming, decided to take a break and shelter at BSM.
After the weather passed, headed south to Bayou Bernard area. Stayed overcast all day with the area to myself and only an occasional slight drizzle. Perfect! More small trout but an occasional keepers. Then found some steady big red action near the entrance of a lagoon with the trout, plus three over 27 inches on shrimp (two went back). Tried more trout spots thick but small it was best to fish a lure to give the keepers a shot. A few trout were added to the ice chest along the way plus an occasional sheephead.
The tide switched, pressure falling with rain pouring west but not at Hopedale, water got warmer, and finally the chunky trout came out. I switched to minnows for them, along with the final slot red. Only kept trout at least 13 inches. Headed in with 16 trout, 5 reds, and 4 sheephead.
Most of the day the trout only wanted live shrimp on the bottom, or a lure if they were turned on. Cork only worked near the end of the day.
My Father-in-Law Jerry and I did another Hopedale trip Wednesday, leaving BSM at noon to catch the warmup and incoming tide. We first stopped at our sheephead hole in St. Malo, and they were thick. We filled up 2/3rds of the icechest in an hour with twelve 3-4 lb sheephead and three 4-5 lb drum. We decided to then check on the trout. Trout sometimes start getting funky and inconsistent by mid-December, and we found them to be slow even on live shrimp and a perfect incoming tide. We just found a few keepers in Loutre, Stump Lagoon, Mussel Bay, and Pete's Lagoon with a higher throwback ratio than normal. We picked up more huge sheephead, drum, and an 8-lb red along the way to finish filling up the ice chest.
Unless one is a trout fanatic, the sheephead is a great plan B. They are the best eating inshore fish. They school up in December with big females, then head offshore to spawn from January-April. Cleaning them takes a little longer but once you know the tricks it's not so bad. We just used fresh market shrimp for them, no live shrimp needed.
My sister Kelly and family friend Linda, Day 2. Let the hunters have their morning, as well as poor Saints fans go home to their TVs or the dome. We left Breton Sound Marina at kickoff. By the time we passed St. Malo, it was already 10-0, and 17-0 by the time we got to our first fishing spot at Hank's Pass. Spirits picked up quickly as we started getting a nice mix of drum, reds, trout, and sheephead on the bottom.
But the tide was perfect for trout, so left for Pete's Lagoon while the getting was good. I put the stick down, and both corks were already down. We had them going for 15 minutes, then they quit. Man, I hate it when that happens. The rest of the day we added to the icechest with scattered trout. I couldn't help myself, though, I wanted that fast bite with something that pulls, so headed back to the sheephead hole in Hank's Pass. After 11 sheephead, left the jailbirds biting and headed to Lena's for a few more trout. Finished with around 25 trout, 11 sheephead, 2 drum, and 2 reds. All caught on market shrimp, live shrimp, and cocohoe minnows.
My sister Kelly and family friend Linda flew in from Dallas for a weekend of fishing. Day 1. Last Saturday there was no wind, so headed to the relative gnat-free area of Proctor's Point from Chef Pass. It was an interesting slow run in the fog but that's life and why God invented GPS. Only found one trout but got in a pocket of nice reds. The White pelicans were also out roosting in force....what a beautiful sight! A front was coming through around noon, so we headed back for lunch at 11AM at the restaurant near Southside, just beating the pounding west wind switch.
After lunch we headed to the Wall. Saw the usual crowds with some craziness, and with only a few small trout didn't take long to decide to leave. We headed to a bayou east of the Wall and got on a good trout bite plus a nice bass we let go. Kept 8 very nice reds and 19 trout. All fish caught on a mixture of market shrimp, live shrimp, and cocohoe minnows.
An old friend asked me to take a father and his daughter on a Louisiana fishing trip during Thanksgiving weekend - Dave and Megan. Hey, we aim to please! They fish often but never in Louisiana.
We left mid-morning Saturday Nov. 29 to avoid the sunrise crowds and to catch the afternoon incoming tide. First tried close to Breton Sound Marina...only a few trout, time to make a long run east to avoid the crowds. Tide also switches sooner there. Took a quick break at BSM then headed for Christmas Camp region.
But...only a few fish. A bull red, a slot red, and a sheephead. No bites elsewhere, and no trout. Scratched my head and decided to join the Mussel Bay masses, hoping a lot had gone home. Indeed, many had, and we got to work. Finished with 23 trout, 5 sheephead, and a 23-inch red. Not great, but not bad either for the crowds.
Happy Thanksgiving! We decided to beat the crowds and fished Tuesday out of Hopdale. Haibo and his daughter Anna joined me. It was her first fishing trip. Wow, did she pick a good day. It was chilly, windy, and overcast. Wanted to avoid a long cold boat ride to keep her from turning blue, so stayed close to BSM. Tide was falling all day from 2.0-ft range and north wind. First stop, just a throwback trout and light takedowns...trout were still cold. Next stop closer to Lake Robin, Anna gets a 26-inch red, great way to forget the cold. Made another move to a bayou, she gets another nice red. About to move, and the trout warmed up briefly with a quick three. HMMM, decided to stick around and make short moves.
Scattered fish, move a little, scattered fish, then at the mouth of the bayou it broke open. Trout, reds, drum, sheephead....one hour later, the ice chest is full with only a little ice. Great way to get the next generation to learn about our outdoors. Finished with 20 trout, 9 drum, 5 reds, 1 sheephead. Four reds were 26 inches, one 29 inches, and the drum were nice too. Initially, cocahoe minnows did best, then live shrimp did better. Funny how they can switch like that. A few on a vudu once they really got going.
I'll be out Saturday with the crowds. Good luck everyone. My suggestion is to pick a stop, and if you find fish, just keep making short moves. It will be hard to make major moves with boats everywhere.
Two reports. Last Sunday my Father-in- Law joined me to Hopedale. Water temp was in low 50s, and it didn't take long to notice the fish were 'not everywhere.' We got on one trout bite in Malo before they got small and slow, left with 6 keepers. Tried a sheephead hole in Malo - 2 but not thick yet. Worked my way through Guyago....absolutely nothing! Hmmmmmm, this should not be happening in mid-November, but the water was unusually cold.
Decided it was time for a major move, and jumped to the other side of BSM. Fished the bayous, and nice trout started coming in the boat steadily, whew. Also got a 30-inch red. No limits, but Malo and Guyago threw us a curveball. All on live shrimp and minnows.
Wednesday afternoon fished solo in the cold out of Chef Pass. Tried the bypass canal first, nothing. I hate crowds, but gave in and headed to the Wall. Got on one good trout bite in a nearby bayou deep under a cork on live shrimp. Then drifted along a shoreline, catching and releasing bass plus a couple more trout. It got late, and everyone was leaving as the trout got small and slow. On a hunch, I decided to try a winter drift on the bottom. Sometimes a drift is better than anchoring for sluggish trout. Found the ticket -- live minnows with a heavy sinker on the bottom got a hookup every 30 seconds, and some of these were nice World Series trout. Live shrimp on the bottom had taps and usually was a lost 35 cents or throwback trout. The keepers wanted the minnows. A jig probably would have worked, too. Got chased in by darkness with 18 trout. When I cleaned the trout late, none had shrimp in the stomachs, just minnows.
If you go, bring a tolerant mindset. The Wall area has lots of interesting boating behavior and I'll leave it at that. I'm sure weekends are especially lively.
Decided it was time to join the Hopedale fun. Fished solo ahead of the weather Wednesday and did the Bayou Antoine-St. Malo-Bayou Guyago circle. Got on two trout bites at first two stops in current lines into major bayous. Stopped at 20 trout and let another boat have the spot - started focusing on meatfish, figuring I'll bump into 5 more trout along the way. First meat stop in St. Malo - 2 drum on market shrimp. Circled back, a few stops, no meatfish but dinks and scattered keepers. Next stop at a deep bayou going in a lagoon didn't have much at first, but its a high confidence place for a mixed box so stuck it out and enjoyed a satsuma. Ten minutes later, a red in the deep. The other pole was on the shore, and the cork started going down too. Got three drum and one more red on the shoreline on market shrimp and finished off the trout limit. Finished with 25 nice trout, 5 drum, and 3 reds.
It was cool, overcast, 10-15 out of NW, pressure low, tide falling all day. Great conditions.
Tip --- I start fishing with minnows in November. They usually outfish live shrimp on the trout. Bigger trout want finfish as the shrimp get small, plus they survive the dink taps long enough for the keepers to find them. It doesn't have to be cocohoes (which right now only the Rigolets is selling on the East side). People are surprised at the little minnows I use, which I catch on the side of the road, then just use a 1/0 hook.
I did throw a lure (vudu) and caught a few but the bait worked better.
Fished Chef Pass briefly late Friday afternoon with my wife Lisa and to stock up on live shrimp. Water low, then tide switched to incoming later. Saw birds, but only throwback trout and too windy to mess with. Then fished Alligator Point area. Just one nice red (wife) on a purple vudu. Saw a boat broken down, towed them in while Lisa and I ate a satsuma and listened to music for a pretty sunset cruise.
Saturday morning fished solo starting at 8AM. With Alligator slow Friday decided to fish the marsh on the east side of Lake P. Found several schools of 14-inch reds but nothing to add to the ice chest. Went in to the marsh, found a few bass, only keeping a decent sized one plus a small gut-hooked one.
Moved into the Pass itself on the north side. Free-lined some live shrimp, finally a couple of nice trout plus throwbacks. It quit, but the wind also slowed down, so hit the Lake P shoreline. One very nice red, one keeper trout, and throwback trout. Almost time for a break, but hit a point in Chef Pass in a deep hole....a nice blue cat. Now hungry, so met Lisa at the Hi Tide Bar and Grill for lunch and football watching. You can tie the boat up there, nice.
We went back out and this time targeted the Marquez Canal area. Very slow at first, just one nice bass. I was hoping the tide switch would get a bite going, and it did. We finally got a school of trout late afternoon and the ice chest got slimy. Free-lined shrimp, then switched to corks and vudus. There is also a nice redfish somewhere with a vudu in his lip.
Not sure where the drum and sheephead are at Chef Pass. Usually we catch those in November.
Chef Pass is a challenging area, but we're adding fish to the box and saving gas money. Hard to beat a short 20- minute drive. But I feel a Hopedale trip coming soon.
FYI, I heard rumors of some meat hauls under birds in the Bayou Bienvenue and Bayou Thomas area. I can only verify they are not the same trout under the birds at Alligator Point.
Took My Dad and Father-in-Law fishing on Halloween. Slow start, but we eventually found a few. Tide not falling until 9AM, so started fishing at 8AM. Tried the Alligator Point area -- unlike last weekend, slim pickings. Only found 3 keeper trout, and nothing else box-worthy. Found some birds, got our hopes up.....just throwbacks and gafftops! Gafftops on Halloween, spooky.
Then, the front came through at 10:30AM and a strong west wind kicked in. We weren't giving up, though. I headed to the sheltered waters of Marquez Canal. After a few more duds, found a trout school at the mouth of a bayou. We got 12 keepers, 10-20 throwbacks, and a bass. Then, it was time for Halloween activities and my Scream outfit. But we salvaged the trip. Everything on live shrimp, lures drew a blank all day.
Did a two-fer at Chef Pass. Fished the afternoon incoming tide Friday, and Saturday morning falling tide. My Father-In-Law Jerry joined me Friday. We had to stick-and-move and stay out of the north wind, but steadily put trout, reds, doormat flounder, and sheephead in the boat. We fished the Lake Borgne shoreline, cuts, and inside marsh. Live shrimp deep under a cork worked best, but also used a purple Vudu shrimp under a cork. The Vudu caught a flounder, two reds, a sheephead that swallowed the Vudu (?), and a few trout.
Be warned that using a lure usually kills the trout bite unless someone else is throwing live shrimp. I switch to the Vudu if there are lots of bait stealers, or if the trout have gotten small and want to entice a bigger one. Two-day total was 22 keeper trout, 2 doormats, 5 reds, 1 sheephead. Lake Borgne will not produce limits, but there are fish to be caught now, and it's nice saving all the gas money.
Incidentally, I've fished the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline a few times now with little to show so far. Friday just got one redfish blowup before we decided to go to Lake Borgne. The fish are just not in Lake P right now.
Another Friday trip......today Haibo and Jerry joined me at Chef Pass. Tide movement (falling) was in the afternoon, so we launched at 10AM. Caught the end of the incoming tide at Chef Pass, just 1 trout. There was no wind, so I did something I love to do but usually can't....run to Proctor's Point.
We first fished the east side at an area which usually has current. We arrived and in the clear water could see a few reds under schools of mullet. Perfect! Got two reds but the piggy perch were like piranha's destroying our bait. Put a Lemondrop lure on and got 1 more red and a drum. Then it quit. Drifted further down, just one trout but a nice one....ah, World Series trout time. Hoped to find more later.
With the water still up (but falling) tried the ponds and bayous for an hour, just one more more trout, water was getting too low; a little sightfishing showed no visible reds, water getting too low.
Decided to get back on the Lake Borgne shoreline, west side. Fished the mouth of a cut with a current. Slow stick and drift. The corks started going down....World Series trout mixed with drum! Fun stuff. Finished with around 30 nice trout, 6 drum, 3 reds that filled up the ice chest. Fishing deep under a cork with live shrimp worked best.
Sometimes things go wrong in bunches. One of my trailer boards broke last trip, so I launched the boat at the house in Eden Isles and we fixed the trailer in the driveway. Since the boat was already in the water, Friday made a brief evening trip to the Rigolets, only one nice trout but well-stocked with live shrimp for the next morning.
Saturday morning made the run across Lake P to the Chef Pass area. Almost there, and the engine starts sputtering. At the shoreline, the engine is running but only slowly and not well. Initial symptoms are bad gad from a certain dealer I'll leave nameless until we investigate more and confirm its not the engine (yes, it was a non-ethanol pump, too).
Well, my hands are now tied but its only 6AM so decided to make the most of it for a while. Slowly worked my way along the shoreline. Hooked a jackfish that I broke off, but man those are brutes! Next, got a nice red and beautiful flounder. Thought I had something going but that was it as the sun came up on an very hot October morning. Just bait stealers afterwards, and a little sightfishing in the ponds just gave me a couple of scooped-up crabs.
Decided it was time to call the cavalry, and called Sea Tow. I puttered over to a bayou and played with some throwback trout (and one keeper), and Sea Tow showed up very soon afterwards. I highly recommend getting that membership, because I'll adjust Pack's saying: 'You never know.'
I also want to thank my wife for dragging the trailer to Chef Pass Harbor :) And Chef Pass let me use the ramp for free due to the situation. Lots of good people in this world still.
And some not so good people. I then learned Chef Harbor's shrimp boat was stolen. I hope readers will also give them some business (located north of the bridge) while they pick up the pieces - ramp, ice, gas. Lou sometimes would go two hours out to get the live shrimp and was very reliable with having live bait in stock. They found the boat and it shouldn't take too long for them to get live bait going again after some repairs.
I hope to be on the water again soon, too.