Diving birds, shad slicks lead to big trout

Diving birds, shad slicks lead to big trout

There are now some seagulls showing up on Lake Sabine and on Big Lake in Louisiana. Some of the speckled trout that are feeding under the gulls are nice size, while some are small. There are, however, some nice size sand trout present. There are some larger specks that have been consistent in other places. This type of action will get better and better as the time goes by with October and November being the peak.

Locating the feeding seagulls has been a hit-or-miss situation. They don’t seem to be all over the lake yet, and sometimes there is only a single bird or two present. Should you be on the lake and see a single or couple of seagulls diving and squawking, be sure to give them a try.

Another thing that has been paying off has been locating the shad-created shiny slicks on the water’s surface. Big Lake in Louisiana and East Bay in our area have long been favorite places for fishing the slicks. The surf on calm days has also yielded some really solid specks and redfish under them. Keep in mind that the smaller the slick, the fresher it is.

I’ve found, by casting a bait or lure up tide from the slick, that this is usually where the fish are. The main problem with fishing the slicks is that some other fish could be causing them. Gaftopsails and hardhead catfish also feed on the shad and cause the oily sheen. They will also feed upon your offering and put plenty of slime on your fishing line. Many anglers do not want the slimy gaftopsails in their boat. At one time, when it was legal to clean fish while aboard the boat, you could place the gaftopsails on a boat and allow the slime to dry. Then the fish could be easily filleted and the meat put into a plastic zip-lock bag and into the cooler. Since them, regulations have dictated a change in tactics.

I recommend placing the gaftopsail catfish in a plastic bag after their spiny fins have been removed. Then go ahead and put the entire fish in the cooler. Whenever you return home, it is OK to lay them out for 10 to 15 minutes before filleting them. Once that undesirable slime, has dried the fish are easy to filet.

Once filleted, I recommend giving the meat a mustard bath before mealing and frying it. The mustard in a small amount seems to enhance the flavor. In fact, I recommend giving most saltwater fish filets a mustard bath. Believe me, it seems to really make a difference.

Another way to locate some really solid specks is to leave the bird action in the lakes and bays and to head out into the ship channel. There are a number of places along the channel from west pass and Stewts Island on south that offer some excellent fish catching. By using a depth finder and moving along, slowly there will be breaks in the channel walls that are natural feeding and traveling routes for the fish. Besides that, there are some manmade inlets with shell bottoms and submerged points near drop-offs. These are fish hangouts.

On down the levy and below the Causeway, there are several places where there is shell bottom. There are also some bayous that many times are loaded with speckled trout and many more times holding both redfish and flounder. If there is bait present, there will be bigger fish present also.

The most popular spot along that channel for specks is what is known as Lighthouse Cove. The cove is a large shell reef that quickly changes depth from a foot or two down to 8 to 10 feet on down into the ship channel. Along the reef are some cuts and washouts that do attract all sorts of desirable fish.

Whenever the jetty is fishable, it will hold specks, reds, Spanish mackerel, sheepshead, drum, sharks and lots of other fish species. On calm days, it is not a great distance out to the short rigs a few miles past the jetty. Many times, some extra large specks are around those structures.This time of year, I highly recommend using live bait. Live shrimp, shad, finger mullet, small croaker and such fished with a popping float or free lining the bait with a split shot will pay off.