by Chris Berzas
As the waters warm all along the Louisiana coast, fishing in the surf for speckled trout and redfish increases in intensity. This activity reaches its feverish peak around the July 4 holiday.
It’s a great way to beat the heat of the summer – while at the same time adding tasty yellowmouths to the cooler for scrumptious dining whenever and wherever you choose.
And there is no doubt that Louisiana’s Grand Isle becomes the speckled trout surf-fishing capital of Louisiana in the summer. These waters consistently deliver great numbers of speckled trout to many anglers due mainly to its location where southeasterly winds bring in an abundance of shrimp and baitfish – chief prey for the numerous speckled trout running the beaches.
Public opportunities abound to access the surf in and near Grand Isle including Grand Isle State Park and Elmer’s Island Refuge.
As for Grand Isle, resident population in the census approximates 1,300 in the winter, but swells somewhere near 20 thousand as anglers and tourists flock to the island mainly to enjoy angling pursuits.
The Grand Isle beaches also offer recreational crabbing ventures in the summer. Families usually fish for speckled trout and white trout on the surf early in the morning, and then turn their activities to crabbing.
According to Sheila Bradberry of Grand Isle State Park, anglers have been finding runs of speckled trout since mid-May.
“We are open for beach camping (tenting only), and the pier and the beaches are open,” said Bradberry. “The restrooms remain closed for repairs (since Hurricane Isaac). There are other restrooms available for use in the day-use area.”
For more information, contact the Grand Isle State Park Website at: http://www.crt.state.la.us/parks/igrdisle.aspx.
Another popular surf-fishing location just west of Grand Isle is Elmer’s Island refuge just west of Grand Isle. Surf-fishing for speckled trout can be great here where it is common to take limits under favorable conditions.
“We had closed Elmer’s Island after Hurricane Isaac and then re-opened portions,” said Julia Lightner with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “As for now (mid-May), there are sections open at the entrance and a half-mile to the east.”
As of mid-May, the only activity allowed on the area was recreational (rod, and reel; hook and line) fishing. Recreational crabbing was prohibited at the time. The LDWF continues to monitor the site for tar mats and tar balls on the area. The recreational harvest of crabs shrimp and oysters was also prohibited.
Lightner urged anglers and others to keep up with notices regarding open areas and activities by visiting their website often at http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/refuge/elmers-island.
In southwest Louisiana, anglers have fond surf-fishing excursions on the Beach. The “Beach” is described as that portion of the coastline running along Louisiana’s Gulf Beach Highway 82 from Holly Beach westward to Sabine Lake. If you ask the guides and anglers who frequent Big Lake and Sabine Lake, there are quality and trophy trout present in these waters.
“There’s no doubt that the Beach here along Hwy. 82 holds speckled trout of quality that is very well representative of Big Lake and Sabine Lake,” said Ken Chaumont of Lake Charles. “There are good numbers of 6s and 7s taken in the surf in this area, and plenty 3s and 4s.”
Regarding any surf fishing in Louisiana, Chaumont said that anglers should “read the surf” to be successful in scoring on numbers of speckled trout.
“The key to successful surf-fishing in the summer is to understand water quality,” said Chaumont.
“If a south wind at 15 to 20 knots hits the shelf of the beach, it can clear fast where even the next day you can be fishing in just slightly stained waters.”
Chaumont urged anglers to cruise beach highways and look for bird activity – as well as baitfish scurrying and moving along the beaches. Of course a high moving tide is most favorable to find racing schools of baitfish and ravenous, chasing trout.
“The surf is mainly an early morning bite for trout in my experience,” said Chaumont. “And you want to fish the beach with topwaters early such as Heddon’s Spooks, Mirrolure’s She Dog, and the Rapala Skitterwalk. Egret Baits’ Kick A Mullet also works well when these trout are chasing mullet in the deeper troughs.”
At mid-morning, Chaumont recommends than surf anglers change from topwaters and suspending lures to tail baits such as Wedgetail Mullets and Bayou Chubs.
“So far this summer, we are getting excellent reports about our new VuDu shrimp working well in the surf under popping corks,” he said.
“And also, cast east-to-west and west-to-east, and not north-to-south in the surf.”
The angler explained this angling direction due to the dynamics of the beach.
“If an angler will precisely observe the beach terrain at very low tide, you will see: beach – then trough – then sand bar,” explained Chaumont. “There will be cuts or low areas (sloughs) on the sand bar, and it is here where the baitfish will run in a moving tide, and of course – the trout will follow them into the trough between the beach and the sand bar. The way to fish these cuts is walking through the trough to the sand bar and cast east to west. You want your topwaters above them (the sloughs) early, and plastics such as Bayou Chubs and Wedgetail Mullets dropping in these cuts later in the morning.
Certainly the first trough can offer great fishing in the very early morning. Look for baitfish running in this trough and on the beach’s edge.
Of course, if anglers so choose they have ample opportunity at fishing with live bait by taking a cast net along and throwing for live mullet and croakers as well.
Please consult the 2013 Louisiana Fishing Regulations Pamphlet for creel and length limits of the species you are after before heading for your chosen surf-fishing locations this summer.