Winter in South Louisiana can be very challenging time to fill the ice chests with limits of speckled trout and redfish. With constant fluctuations in barometric pressure, temperature and water levels it is a must to have lures in your arsenal that will produce whether or not the conditions are favorable.
Scent plays an important role in beating the odds when the conditions are less than favorable. After a good cold front blows through, the marshes drain to leave nothing more than mud flats, ultra shallow oyster reefs and deep holes.
In the morning hours when water temperatures are still in the 40s you need to fish the deepest water you can find in the marsh. Start off first thing throwing Yum Samurai Shads and Yum Samurai Curltails tight-lined on the bottom with 3/8 oz. non-painted round heads. The best colors in this 8-12 feet of dirty water is Silver Mullet/Chartreuse, Black/Chartreuse and then Glow/Chartreuse once the sun gets high in the sky.
Your presentation should be based upon what works best for you in the warmer months. Just slow it down a lot. A slow constant snap of the wrist along with a slow retrieve will produce vicious strikes from these lethargic fish. Try to avoid just dragging the bait across the bottom. It's important to give it that little steady "hopping" action across the bottom. Coincidentally, using Yum soft plastics is just as important as the presentation this time of year. These fish are extremely lethargic and picky! YUM's Live Prey Technology gives you that edge needed to fulfill the purist in you that refuses to touch dead or live bait.
Once the waters have warmed by mid-morning you should then work your way out of the deeper water searching for transition points or bottom irregularities. Switch to 1/4 oz. heads and search for little reefs or hills on the bottom in about 7 feet of water. The trout will suspend above these irregularities to sun themselves and to feed on baitfish that are also trying to warm themselves up. Cast out beyond these areas and let your lure sink three quarters of the way to the bottom.
Begin your slow steady "hopping" action retrieve once again until you find the exact depth the fish are staged at. If you find yourself getting a lot of short strikes it's because the fish are too small! Move on to different irregularities until the size improves.
If you find one particular submerged reef that you are catching a lot of fish on only to have them shut off all of a sudden you will need to regroup again! Break out some Smithwick Limited Edition Rogues in Nuclear Clown, Thumper or King Midas. Cast them out way beyond the submerged reef. Crank them down fast to at least a foot off the bottom and then let them sit. Give it a good twitch and a couple of slow cranks and then let it sit again for two or three seconds (Limited Rogues come in suspending models only and are specially designed to cast a little better than the rest of the Rogue family). The hundred or so trout that are still down there will literally fight each other to get that Rogue! It's that simple. Until next time good fishing!
Capt. Ross Barkhurst fishes the Redfish Cup and Redfish Tour events in addition to running Argonaut Charters out of Venice/Buras/Empire, Louisiana. Capt. Ross can be contacted at 504-329-0586.