Transition means trout missing

Since that all-too-short warming spell in early February, when the marsh warmed and sent bass, redfish and speckled trout into a mini feeding frenzy, fishermen have been able to find redfish most days, bass less frequently and speckled trout have turned into ghosts.

And fishermen are asking why they can’t catch trout.

Jerald Horst has most of the answers. The now-retired LSU AgCenter biologist has a passion for catching specks and has written two books, “Trout Masters” and “Trout Masters Too,” that explored the wheres, whens, hows and whys of most of the top trout catchers in the state.

Horst’s simple explanation is that trout are in transition mode.

“We’re in-between where speckled trout want to be in the winter and where they want to be during the summer,” Horst said. “Those are the stable pattern times: During the summer, the fish are looking to spawn and are along the barrier islands and in the lower ends of the bays.

“In the wintertime, two things happen: The males retreat to low-salinity areas and move into the interior waters, water that’s almost freshwater, and the females disperse throughout the system, some in saltwater, some where the males are, though there’s fewer of them where the males are.”

Horst said the folks who caught trout in December and January in the interior areas need to understand that in most years, water remains warm enough into that last month of the year but chills in January. Most years, February is the coldest.

“This animal (trout) is like all cold-blooded animals. They just don’t feed as much in cold water,” Horst said.

There are other factors: “What we see now is that trout will begin to segregate, that the females that are in the interior will begin moving lower in the bays,” Horst said. “This shuffles the deck, so to speak, and that means there’s no stable pattern, and where you catch fish one day, they’re not there the next day.

“Really the speckled trout are all over the place, and there is no way to predict where they might be from one day to the next,” he said.

So then most anglers turn their attention to redfish. Reds have been most accommodating in recent weeks. Fresh shrimp or your favorite soft-plastic lure, even baits like a Texas-rigged redshad worm, will attract redfish bites in runouts and along grass-lined canal banks.

But these days, Horst is like most other speckled trout addicts. He’s waiting for that first call that specks are showing up in the bay just north of Grand Isle; in Terrebonne, Timbalier or Vermilion bays; in Lake St. Catherine; or Lake Borgne. It’s a signal that the migration from the interior is on and the fish are setting up for their summertime run.

Controlling Henderson

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced last week the schedule for a series of what it called “large-scale herbicide applications for Henderson Lake” to control water hyacinth. The project began Wednesday and will continue throughout March.

LDWF fisheries biologist Alex Perret said when applied properly the herbicides are not toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms.

Chicot’s cabins closed

State Parks said last week that the 15 “deluxe” cabins at Chicot State Park will close Sept. 6 and remain closed for about seven months. The closure is, according to OSP, “to correct structural issues.” Chicot’s five “standard” cabins and all other park facilities will remain open.

If you have reservations for the park during that time, call (888) 677-2442.

Guide sentenced

Denham Springs charterboat guide Josh Howard was sentenced Wednesday after pleading guilty to violations surrounding an April 2012 incident involving catching a bluefin tuna.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ report detailed receiving a tip that “Howard participated in the catching and retaining of a large bluefin tuna” after the bluefin season had closed. That tip led to an investigation and a subpoena for Howard’s cell phone, which the Enforcement Division said they believed had photos of the fish.

The report said: “When agents approached Howard with the subpoena and asked for his phone on May 18, 2012, Howard threw the phone overboard into the water thereby destroying any suspected evidence.”

Agents arrested Howard that day and used a search warrant to seize Howard’s computer from his Denham Springs home. Agents later confirmed the computer held photos and videos of the catch of the out-of-season tuna.

Howard pled guilty to two counts of resisting an officer, one count of intentional littering and one count of violating recreational take of tuna regulations. He was sentenced to forfeit his 2013 charterboat licenses; forbidden to serve as a charter captain during 2013; fined $850 plus court costs; and given 32 hours of community service and two years probation.

Life-jacket sites needed

BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water’s Life Jacket Loaner Program for Kids are seeking sites for its loaner programs.

The program allows parents to borrow a properly fitting life jacket for their children. There are no borrowing, nor renting fees.

The two groups want to add 40 new sites this year to the exiting 500 loaner sites around the country.

Loaner-site applications will be accepted until March 31: To apply or for information go to website: http://www.Boat
US.com/Foundation/LJLP.