Macaluso: Trout make return to coastal list

Guess we had to leave it up to Mother Nature to tell us where, then when speckled trout were going to start their spring run.

Last year, it was March. This year, it’s early May, and just knowing that the run is hitting full stride in the eastern half of the state’s coastal waters is enough to get us ready to head south for the coming Memorial Day weekend.

The trick will be to go early before winds get up.

For the offshore folks, this is one of those four-day weekends open to taking a three red-snapper daily limit from state waters (the state uses 10.357 miles, and the feds insist state waters is out to 3 miles).

Freshwater action is confined to a very few areas, notably the marshes south of U.S. 90.

Weather

A weak cold front is predicted to move through Friday. That means northerly winds into late Friday before southeasterly winds take over at 5-10 knots, building to 10-15, bringing choppy-to-rough conditions to the barrier islands. Look for 2-3 footers offshore.

Expect a mid 60s-to-mid 80s temperature range with little or no chance of rain through Monday.

The Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers have crested — respective 35.4 and 14.0 foot readings at Baton Rouge and New Orleans for the Mississippi, and at 5.8 feet for the Atchafalaya at Morgan City. Expect a slow fall for the next week.

The coast

Don’t fight the Pontchartrain bridges for a few bites, because the reefs in the big lake are producing just like they did toward the end of the summer last year. All action is on soft plastics.

The reporting anglers started with the Matrix Shad “Shrimp Creole” and the Dudley’s “Shrimp Cocktail” colors, then later went to the Green Gobie and pearl white Gulp! curltail grub to haul in 14-inches and better specks, 21-4 inch white trout, redfish and a flounder.

The Central Coast’s report is similar to last week: The surf is where the bigger trout are taking topwaters when there’s a ripple to the beach. Smaller trout are out front and around the barges at The Fourchon. When the wind gets up, head back into the bays and lakes and look for birds. The trout are smaller there, but there’s enough of them in Barataria and Caminada bays.

Chasing birds in Timbalier and Terrebonne bays are yielding larger trout (13-16 inches) compared to smaller trout near Grand Isle. Casting double-rigs with anything chartreuse on the tail is attracting strikes.

In water with less visibility, electric chicken colors are working best.

Freshwater

It’s time to think about heading into the Ballpark area at Old River to look for big bluegill and chinquapin.

Bluegill still taking crickets around willow trees in the canals off Lake Verret, Grassy Lake and Lake Palourde.

Bass like buzzbaits, topwaters and spinnerbaits.