By all accounts, Lake Pontchartrain and its ancillary lakes and bayous are teeming with undersized and barely legal speckled trout right now. Capt. Dudley Vandenborre and Chas Champagne have been putting together healthy boxes of fish in Lake Catherine, and anglers are seeing near-constant action on falling tides in Bayous Liberty and Lacombe.
Though these fish are scrappy, they’re anything but large. Keepers measuring 13 inches are rare, and 14-inchers are downright mountable.
The fish are feasting on the early crop of white shrimp that are moving out of the marshes. Capt. Kris Robert said the lower Pearl River basin is loaded with them.
“The guys dragging for shrimp in there right now are catching a lot of 10-, 11-inch (speckled) trout in their trawls,” he said. “It’s about to break open.”
Small speckled trout in the Lake Pontchartrain area is more the rule than the exception this month, according to Capt. Mike Gallo.
“You typically see a lot of little fish in September. Those are simply fish that in May and June had not reached maturity and the instinct to move out and find saltier water to reproduce simply wasn’t there,” he said. “They just hang around and continue to eat. They may have been 8 to 10 inches in June, and now they’re finally starting to reach that 12- to 13-inch size.
“So it’s easy to go out and catch 40 or 50 trout, but you’re only keeping 15.”
Those fish will continue to grow rapidly, and they’ll be joined by mature trout that will move into the lake from outside waters. That migration will begin this month after the fish are done spawning, Gallo said.