Nearly two weeks of constant easterly winds created problems for Louisiana coastal fishermen, not the least of which was a last weekend filled with extra-rough seas and an almost constant procession of stormy squall lines.
And when those conditions forced them to head to inshore waters, all they found was water so high that it covered marshes, docks, landings and parking lots.
So what’s a dyed-in-the-wool angler to do?
“We knew the conditions weren’t right, but we were going anyway. We had to. We put our money up for the Catholic High (Alumni) Rodeo,” David Olinde said.
Olinde was one of four Team Zito members. With Brad Zito, Ray Bourgeois and Trey Esnard, they fished the Venice area, using tried-and-true tactics (mostly live bait) and worked cuts and protected waters in the lower reaches off the Mississippi River.
While Central Coast fishermen were fighting dirty water and strong-enough waves to soar six or more feet over the east side jetties at Belle Pass, Team Zito were pounding 2-3 pound speckled trout and darned near lapped the field in CHS Rodeo’s Speckled Trout “calcutta,” one of the rodeo’s pay-to-play divisions.
“We caught fish,” Mike Matthews said after spending Friday and Saturday tucked in behind Grand Isle and, hopefully, out of the teeth of a 15-25 knot east wind. “We found some good (clear) water, but high winds limited the places we could go. We caught trout, but none over two pounds.”
The same was true for a spot the Pointe Fourchon trout flotilla have come to know as “West End,” a spot near the western reaches of East Timbalier Island. The boats that braved open water to get to the spot were rewarded with enough trout to make their adventure rewarding — and for anyone who could find live shrimp for bait.
Live shrimp appeared to be the line between success and failure. While Berkley Gulp! worked best among artificials, live shrimp worked two feet under a cork was what make trout, redfish and flounder bite.
But there were few, if any, speck and redfish limits, and fishermen realized the blame laid squarely on the days-on-end 10-25 knots northeast and east winds that plagued the entire Louisiana coast.
Prolonged hard winds teach hard-learned lessons: Predator species like speckled trout and redfish and the snappers, lemonfish and other deeper-water species like to congregate around huge schools of croaker, mullet, pogeys and shrimp. Wind breaks up big bait balls, and breaks up schools of hungry predators.
Veteran charter skipper Steve Tomeny and a dozen media folks who showed up at Fourchon found that out Wednesday.
“Before the winds started, we were finding big (red) snapper and lemonfish, but not today. We need south winds and calmer conditions for the fish to bunch up again,” Tomeny said.
“We’re getting that today (Wednesday) and by the weekend we should start seeing lots of big snapper ready to eat again. It should be a great weekend.”