Speckled trout catches average so far

Maybe it’s because 2012 was such a terrific speckled trout year that 2013 was bound to lag behind those memorable April-July catches of a year ago.

Or maybe it was the cooler-than-normal spring, the high-and-still running hard Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers that have kept trout catches down to what most anyone would call the “average” range.

Or maybe it’s the constantly shifting winds that have kept trout from piling up in the huge schools coastal anglers found last year.

Whatever it is, fishermen east of the Mississippi River, in the Lake Borgne area out to the Breton and Chandeleur sounds, are battling not-so-favorable conditions this year, and the quick, 25-trout limits so common in the late spring and summer of 2012 have been difficult to duplicate.

Same’s true along the Central Coast: Grand Isle folks have been heading east into the Four Bayous area, east of Grand Terre Island, with reasonable assurance of hauling in a limit or near limits — if conditions allow.

Reports from a handful of veteran charter skippers are that they’re having to work deeper into mornings to return to camps and marinas bragging that their customers brought trout limits with them.

To the west of Grand Isle, in The Fourchon, Timbalier and Terrebonne waters out to Caillou Boca and Raccoon Island, reports are that limits are not as common.

Into last weekend, folks hitting the barges at Fourchon, the submerged rock piles in front of what’s left of East Timbalier Island and a spot that’s become known as “West End,” waters west of East Timbalier and into lakes Pelto and Barre, were OK with catching larger-than-usual specks, but numbers that fell short of the 25-fish limits. Satisfaction for them is knowing they were bringing in 10-15 trout per fishermen with the average trout size running well over two pounds, with some trout running up to four pounds.

The overall assessment from fishermen is that they’re not seeing the large numbers of brown shrimp moving from the marshes. The heavy movement of shrimp congregates hard-feedding trout. Nor, they report, are they seeing big rafts of mullet and expansive schools of pogeys, which head the food-source list for two-pound plus specks.

Live bait continues to be the top producer, but guides are saying the habits of the trout change almost daily, that one day live shrimp provide all the action, but the next day it could be cocahoe minnows or live croakers, or pogeys they net for their customers.

More shrimp closures

With most of the Terrebonne Basin closed to inshore shrimping, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries issued another closure Wednesday.

Effective a half-hour after Saturday’s sunset, the inside waters from the Atchafalaya River Ship Channel at Eugene Island west to the western shoreline of Freshwater Bayou will be closed to shrimping. Then, at 6 a.m. Tuesday, waters from Freshwater Bayou to the Louisiana-Texas state line will be closed, too. Go to website: www.wlf.louisiana,gov for closure maps.