Live shrimp can’t-miss for specks

Speckled trout and redfish are on along the coast, but somebody needs to flip a switch for Lake Pontchartrain to join the festival.

Freshwater action picked up in the Florida Parishes rivers after the Tickfaw, the Tchefuncte and the Pearl settled from the hard rains earlier this month, and the bluegill started to spawn.

Offshore action is solid on red snapper, even in areas inside three miles off the coast, and with the federal season opening Saturday, folks need to know there is a 16-inch minimum size and a two-per-day limit.

Weather

Southerly winds will prevail and are predicted to calm from 15-20 knots and small-craft cautions to 5-10 knots by Saturday, with seas falling off from 3-4 footers in the lakes and along the coast, to 1 foot or less near the beaches and in the big lakes to 2-footers offshore.

Know that there’s a chance of daily thunderstorms through Sunday with rough local conditions around those storms. Expect summer-like lows near 70 and highs near 90.

The major rivers are predicted to go on a hard fall in the next five days.

The coast

Live shrimp are the can’t-miss bait, especially east of the Mississippi River. Live shrimp on the bottom around the bridges appears to be the only sure thing in Lake Pontchartrain. Expect to catch a few trout on the falling tide, but most trips are falling short of limits.

Muddy-water conditions around The Causeway has lowered expectations for a late-spring trout run there. The near 20-knot winds will keep The Causeway’s north and south shore ends muddy, but it should clear under calmer conditions. When the water clears, most soft-plastic artificials should work as long as it has some chartreuse color in it.

When Lake Borgne calms, the action around oil and gas platforms is as good as it was last year. Limits are common on live shrimp around platforms in 8-14 foot depths.

The Central Coast is producing loads of trout on a wide range of baits including H&H Cocahoe Minnows, Dudley’s Terror Tails, Matrix Shad and the new Voodoo Shrimp. Work these under a cork in the open-water areas. Put them on a jighead to work the surf along the barrier islands, on the backside of the islands at East Timbalier and along the barges at The Fourchon.

Hefty trout continue to show up in Calcasieu Lake. Topwaters, Corky’s and Long As are taking bigger trout along the transition areas between deeper water and the shallow flats.

Freshwater

Bluegill and channel catfish continue to be the talk of the Verret and Des Allemands areas. Setting out jugs for catfish is paying off in canals with moving water.

Bass fishermen should consider the marshes near Turtle Bayou and Bayou Penchant, and the Pearl River system. Use spinnerbaits and buzzbaits early, then go to soft-plastic watermelon-red “creature” baits off the banks later in the morning.