NEW ORLEANS (AP) — If Tristan Daire had never learned not to judge a book by its cover, he might have missed out on a fantastic speckled trout bite Tuesday.
Daire and his fishing buddy, Chas Champagne, had redfish on their brains when they hit the water near Chef Pass.
"We've got the Louisiana Saltwater Series redfish tournament coming up, so we went to poke around to see if we could find any reds along the Intracoastal," Daire said. "But the water was filthy dirty, and it was windy. We knew it wasn't going to happen."
So rather than waste the time on the water, the two anglers decided to check out some of their favorite speckled-trout haunts near the intersection of the Intracoastal Waterway and the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet.
There, too, they found water that looked more suitable for planting than fishing. Such a lack of clarity is highly unusual for the area.
"It was filthy. I've never seen it that dirty," Daire said. "It's always clean there -- always. It was strange."
After a couple of fruitless stops, Daire and Champagne wandered over to the shuttered Bayou Bienvenue locks. From there, they worked northwest in the MR-GO and also east in the Intracoastal toward the Great Wall.
They picked up plenty speckled trout along the way, including fish up to 3 pounds.
"Over toward the Wall, the fish were smaller," Daire said. "They were 11 1/2- to 13-inch fish, but down the rocks, there were much better fish."
The anglers found the fish in 15-25-foot water, which presented some unique challenges.
"With the water movement and the wind, you constantly had a belly in your line," Daire said. "It was tough to stay in contact with your bait."
The anglers had their most consistent success on tiger-colored Matrix Shads fished on 3/8-ounce jigheads.
"You had to be popping it pretty hard," Daire said. "That seemed to be the key to how they wanted it. I tried slowing down a few times, and didn't get a bite."
In addition to the specks, the anglers also caught redfish and black drum.
The fish were all deep, probably because of the recent cooler temperatures. Daire said they tried fishing the flats, but got skunked there.
A veteran of the area, Daire expects the specks to begin moving en masse toward Violet, Seabrook and the bridges in eastern Lake Pontchartrain during the first or second week of March. Until then, the bite should remain red-hot in the Intracoastal and MR-GO for anglers who don't let the dirty water scare them off.
Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com