When tracking down a trophy trout across the Gulf coast salinity is the key ingredient. Monster trout in Lake Pontchartrain, a well known trophy trout estuary, have been as rare as a unicorn on the moon in the last several years. Sure two, three and four pound trout are showing their face as normal in the lake but the real wall hangers are flat out not around and haven’t been for several years now. We spent many, many years in the past seeing multiple six, seven and eight pound trout every month caught by multiple anglers across the Pontchartrain basin but those size trout have been extinct lately. The last big trout run we had in the Lake was back when a spurt of monsters came through and Doc Weiss caught multiple trout in the eight pound class back in 2012′. With all the fresh water this year and the first time opening of the spillway in January I knew this year was going to be a tough one for the big girls in the lake. Surprisingly though, this spring season was actually pretty good and better than the last few years l, but the lake monsters still avoided us for again another year. So what do you do if you want to have a shot of putting a big speck on the wall? Find salty water is the answer. In the late spring to early summer which is prime time for six to eight pound trout salinity is probably as important as having a hook on the lure your using in chance of catching a real monster. The lake right now is at a dismal one part per thousand on the salinity scale which is fine for school trout or for chasing trout in the fall and winter when trout are not in spawn mode. When speckled trout are in reproduction mode which peaks in May and June salinity is a must have. Salinity levels of seven to twenty parts per thousand is ideal. Trout need salty water in order for there eggs to hatch properly. On top of that, brown shrimp like salty conditions also and the brownie’ run the last several years coming through the Rigolets has been dead. These two things are essential for monsters and we are missing these key ingredients to find legitimate mules. Well the Matrix Crew will do just about anything to find a wall hanger trout or at least put our selves in areas where they live so that’s what we have been doing here of late.
Here at DockSide TV we take our trophy trout fishing serious, so serious we have been traveling all the way to Florida in search of a panhandle wall hanger since we feel our typical waters such as the Pontchartrain basin is going to be missing the mules again this spring. Florida fishing is different to stay the least. Over the last several years we have been spending time over in the Pensacola and Destin area focusing on areas such as Big Lagoon, the Santa Rosa Sound and the Choctawhatchee Bay. The trout in these areas are big and smart. Boat traffic is high, but not by fisherman like we deal with back home, the waters are filled with power boaters just cruising around but causing just enough commotion to bother these big trout. In Florida the trout we are looking for are called Gator trout and let me tell you they are hard to catch but most certainly there. Bringing over basic Louisiana techniques such as pulling up to a point throwing out a popping cork and catching fifty trout is to say the least a fantasy. Stealthy approaches, early starts or even fishing in the pitch dark is some keys to success across the panhandle when chasing these Gator trout. Here at Matrix Shad we just finished our first top water lure called the “Matrix Mullet” and it is a big trout killer. With all the shallow grass flats in Florida top water at low light hours is one of the best strategies to have. As most know wade fishing is very effective in shallow water for big trout so that too is a great technique to use. If you plan to stay in the boat like we do a trolling motor should only be used to guide you not power you across flats. Allow the wind to push the boat by always having it at your back. Be as absolutely quite as possible at all times, we even turn the live well off when fishing these flats, it really is that crucial. On our last trip to the panhandle back in May this spring our best catch came in the midst of a drizzling rain while using the “Matrix Mullet.” We were using the wind to our backs using the longest rods we had in hopes of making the longest cast we could with our top waters. The longer the cast the least chance that lurking gator trout knows you are around. We didn’t catch any wall hangers on our last trip but we did get on a good run of three to four pound trout and they were killing that top water in the rain. Sometimes the most uncomfortable weather to fish in will be your best chance to catch a monster trout as they seem to let their guard down. It may be from the lack of boaters or the dropping of the barometric pressure. What ever it is we have seen it too many times and have seen some phenomenal catches under abnormal weather conditions. When in Florida we also fish deeper water. Usually when the sun gets up high and bright we tend to move off the flats and fish deep. Sometimes its a bridge or even a reef with depths up to 25 feet. In these deeper water we have also found monster trout hanging around in the Florida area. The most important tool when fishing non top water lures is fluorocarbon fishing line. We don’t use fluorocarbon on the top waters because fluorocarbon sinks and dips the nose of the top water down but when we are fishing deep with Matrix Shad’s fluorocarbon is a must. The water is so clear and the fish can really examine the lure under these clear circumstances and fluorocarbon line is virtually invisible and you can fool these finicky mule trout. On our last trip to the Perdido Key area we spent a lot of time fishing deep around a bridge crossing the Inter-coastal water way in 15-20′ of water. We used 15 pound test fluorocarbon attached to a 1/2 oz Golden Eye jig head on the “Shrimp Creole” Matrix Shad and caught several three to four pound trout. We had another great week fishing the panhandle and as every trip out there we learned so much. When fishing for these finicky fish you really learn a lot of great techniques to bring with you across the entire gulf coast. To view some of these DockSide TV episodes on fishing across the panhandle check them out at www.Matrixshad.com and until next time “Good fishing”.