Finally! After months of waiting, the first segment on how to find new fishing spots is here. This is a critical step to making a great Circuit to run, especially when you are looking for a great speckled trout bite.
Why find new spots? If you have the ol’ trusty honey hole then why bother wasting time fruitlessly covering water? I like to take time to find new spots for a lot of reasons. I do this because I fish a lot and it is absolutely imperative that I put my customers on fish and that I do so in a timely manner. I will fish all day for them because I believe it is their fishing trip, but I don’t want them so tired at the end of the day that they are falling asleep at the wheel on the drive home. It’s important that I have a good Circuit loaded with great fishing spots that are all close to each other. As dynamic as the Louisiana marsh is, your trusty fishing spot won’t always produce speckled trout and reds. It’s good to have many trusty honey holes!
The Louisiana marsh is always under external influences. There all kinds of things that affect the marsh. You have the tide, river diversions, erosion and more. The marsh is constantly changing and good fishermen are constantly adapting.
The process of finding new fishing spots can be arduous and painful. If you’re the kind of fisherman that just wants to know where someone’s hotspot is, then this article is not for you. You would be better off bothering people on the Trestles in Lake Pontchartrain. This article is for the outdoorsman that aspires to become better by developing an understanding of the Louisiana marsh and the fish that inhabit it. I have spent a lot of days watching dollar signs fly out the exhaust of my Yamaha as I run from spot to spot, trying every technique in the toolbox. But I promise you that the reward has outstripped the effort I put in. Finding your own spots is better than actually catching the fish. Any schmuck can reel in a trout, but can you actually find them on your own? That is where the challenge and the elusive reward lies.
Using a computer and the resources of the Information Super Highway will allow you to save yourself money and make the best use of time when you simply cannot fish. Yes, nothing beats actual fishing experience, but consider that you cannot see what can be seen on Google Earth when you are out running around on your boat. By doing your pre-scout homework, you will have an idea as to where you need to be actually casting. Just because you can’t see current lines while you are there in person doesn’t mean fish aren’t stacked on a point preying on passing baitfish. I know some people have looked upon taking a new, technological approach with disdain. Fact of the matter is, it’s just another tool that, in the right hands, can make an average fisherman a superb fisherman.
The tools you will need for this are easily acquirable and simple to use. You will need the lastest version of Google Earth and some kind of word processor with a capability to include pictures. I use Microsoft PowerPoint, but Word works just as well.
Go ahead and take the time to get familiarized with Google Earth. It is a very powerful and useful program. If you’re not sure how to use all the functions, then take the time to learn them so you don’t get left behind in this article! Then you would only be doing yourself a disservice!
Now that you’re familiar with Google Earth, go ahead and open it if you haven’t done so already. Go ahead and set Hopedale (or where ever you fish) as your starting point. This will make it easier to return to your area to do prescouting. By now, you should know that you can “rewind” and “fast forward” to different points in time. Google Earth has compiled various satellite imagery over the years. As you rewind and fast forward, note that some marsh on the outside has eroded away and that some marsh on the inside has stayed the same. We will use this to our advantage!
As everyone well knows, redfish and trout love to stack up on underwater structure. This may not necessarily mean benthic structure like a peling or gas platform, but it does mean at least some kind of small change in the underwater terrain. It can mean as much as a foot of difference from the surrounding area. If there are oysters on it, then that is good, too!
Well, where are these reefs? They are everywhere, but usually not above the water where we can easily spot them. If you haven’t figured it out already and jumped ahead, then you can see this is where Google Earth comes into play.
Go to these coordinates in Fox Bay and look at the imagery from 1989:
You will see an island there along with a thin stretch of land that extends to the northeast. Now fast forward and note how the land is eroding away. As it does, it goes underwater and creates lumps or reefs that fish may inhabit. There is also an oyster bed in the area, at least pre-Katrina there was. Use your noggin and think about how I could have possibly figured that out without having ever been there (though I have).
So now you see how you can discover “lumps” of islands that used to be above water and points that have since eroded to the point where they are now underwater. Instead of seagulls and pelicans walking on them we now have speckled trout swimming on them! What’s great about these “unknown” fishing spots is that there is nothing to mark them. No rigs, no beaches, no islands. Nothing that stands out to scream to every other boat “Hey! Come crowd this guy’s fishing spot!”
Check out this old island here near Lake Athanasio. I actually slaughtered a lot of pretty 13″ – 15″ speckled trout here. Killed them on Dockside Matrix Shads in Lemon Head.
I found this old lump of an island using Google Earth. I drifted over it with the wind and found it on my depthfinder, then was able to anchor and catch more. If I don’t kill the trout there, I at least manage to pick up a few to polish off my limit of speckled trout.
But it gets slightly more complicated. Not every rise in the seafloor holds fish nor does every island continue life underwater as a reef. Some just get flattened out and no longer exist. This is why it’s pertinent to find a lot of these points, mark them down and then make a route that hits all of them. I will fish as much as 20 different spots that I have plotted out as well as any “targets of opportunity” that I see, which includes birds, points with moving water, current lines and oyster beds.
A quick word about fishing birds. If I am scouting I will usually pass them up. I do this because those birds aren’t static like an oyster reef. They move and do so dynamically. I can’t depend on them to be there for a fishing trip I have the next day. So if I have customers I will absolutely hit the birds up, but if not I am only wasting my time. What’s the point of catching fish that won’t be there consistently? If you have the discipline to pass up birds on a scouting trip then you may very well be a true Louisiana fisherman.
Anyways, back on track! Now you have an idea as to what to look for on Google Earth and how much of it you need to look for. But there is one more thing I like to do that really prepares me. This last tidbit of detail makes all the difference in giving me the confidence I need to effectively approach my fishing spots that I have prescouted.
I like to make a PowerPoint presentation, or Pre-Scout File, of each spot and print out the whole route. That way when I pull up I have an aerial view of the spot I am fishing. I take it to the next level by showing two, or maybe even three, pictures of the island/point as it has eroded over time. This gives me an idea where I need to anchor and where I need to be casting my line.
It’s easy to look at your spots and route on Google Earth and assume you will know where everything is at when you arrive, but this can lead to disaster. Making the associated Pre-Scout File really does give you that “warm and fuzzy” that you are doing what needs to be done to figure the spot out. You can run right past an ordinary cut that is actually a pond packed with redfish. You don’t want to do that!
Now you see how you can maximize your fishing trips even more. Combine this with Running The Swamp Stallion Circuit and in due time you will have a dependable Circuit that will produce every time. However, I haven’t revealed every secret that I use to scout for new spots. Subscribe to this blog, so that you can be the first to read my next segment on scouting for new spots.
Thanks for reading Captain Devin’s Louisiana Fishing Blog!