My friend Danny Womack, who lives in Lafayette, is a speckled trout fanatic. Typically throughout the summer months on any given day, he’ll hook up his 24-foot Sea Hunt boat and make the drive to St. Mary Parish in the wee morning hours just to launch at Burns Point to head offshore to Eugene Island.
A couple weekends ago, he called and asked if I wanted to join him. The allure of catching trout was eating at him. But, by the time we made it to EI-32, more 30-miles out, the seas were at 2- to 3-feet, not the most comfortable when trying to fish.
The rig produced one gafftop catfish. EI-65 produced one speckled trout. And, EI-74 produced nothing but a couple bluefish, practically considered by-catch around these parts. In the meantime, the seas went from 2-3 feet to 3-4 feet. Not good.
The ride in was miserable. Not until we made it closer to shore and shallower water did they become more manageable.
Soaked, with a nasty salt taste in my mouth, I said, “Not fun, Danny!”
To which my buddy replied, “I guess I was over anxious to catch a few trout. The weather said the wind was only supposed to be 5-10-mile per hour. I heard a report during the week they were catching at 74. Next time, you pick the day.”
So, what’s the best day or conditions to catch speckled trout this summer? Clearly, weather plays a role. So does the tide; just ask any angler.
Todd Masson, former editor of Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina Sportsman Magazines, now publishes an online website dedicated to diehard speckled trout anglers called www.laspecks.com. According to Masson, the website was developed to provide trout anglers, like him, a place to hone their skills and get better at the sport that keeps them up at night and on the water early many mornings.
Masson, who is an award-winning writer and author of the book, “Specks,” said, “It includes forums to allow anglers to interact and share information and also has a ‘friends’ network to help anglers keep up with specific people. It’s a unique site in the outdoor community. Best of all, the feature stories and reports on laspecks.com are what’s happening right now. You don’t have to wait weeks to find out what’s going on in your area and whether fish ‘might’ be biting then. You know when you read it that it’s happening now.”
Perhaps what Womack and I needed was the MASS Index. The Masson Algorithm for Speck Success — MASS.
“The MASS index is a formula I worked on for months that considers a number of different real-time factors and melds them with predictions for the next day to spit out a number between 1 and 10 that is a rating for the next day’s speckled trout activity. It’s quite accurate.
“Many people look at solunar tables and monthly tide charts to try to determine how active fish will be, but both elements are very near useless in south Louisiana. For instance, you’ll have trouble finding feeding specks if the water is so dirty, no matter what the solunar tables say. Also, if southeast winds raise the water levels, tides might rise for two or three days straight before falling again for the same amount of time once the wind relents. That’s why tide charts are notoriously inaccurate,” Masson said.
Masson also says the MASS Index can’t be predicted a month in advance. Therefore, at four p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, Masson provides his forecast for trout anglers on the website, providing a prediction for the next day.
For the past two years, trout anglers haven’t had it easy around these parts. The 2010 BP Oil Spill had many state and federal waters closed for much of the summer. In 2011, the second worse flood on record kept freshwater flowing well into late summer above flood stage. And, when that occurs, it’s difficult to find a trout in East Cote Blanche, West Cote Blanche, Vermilion and Weeks bays. In short, the water just isn’t salty enough.
This past weekend, on a trip into the basin, it’s remarkable how low the water is compared to 2011. This week it’s been hovering below the 3-foot mark, and that bodes well for trout anglers this summer.
Womack says, “For trout, all of that area gets better the later into summer it gets. There’s so much fresh water that loops around that way from the Atchafalaya River and Spillway, it’s not until the river drops well below flood stage, where it allows saltwater to come into Vermilion and Weeks bays. And, that usually is when the river in Morgan City is at 2-3 feet.”
For up to date “real-time” information on speckled trout action, go to www.laspeck.com
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