Winter trips to the bridges on Lake Pontchartrain

With all the pictures of big speckled trout coming off the highway 11 bridge and the train trestle that crosses Lake Pontchartrain, it was time to see for myself. On December, 28 Joe L. and I got out there about 7 a.m., launching from the south shore at the bridge. There had been a warming trend and the water temperature was up to 63 degrees F with a couple of feet of visibility. The wind was very light from the SE and a heavy fog bank covered the lake, with visibility of a few hundred feet. We worked our way around the shoreline to the bridge. I had my fishfinder running and it was picking up clouds of baitfish all around the bridge. I was fishing a chartreuse Gulp swimming mullet on a 3/8 oz jig head due to the hard current from the falling tide. We got on the down tide side of the bridge and I spotted numerous large fish on the screen. They were holding a couple of feet off the bottom, and it wasn’t long until I hooked into a nice 3 lb. speck of about 20”. I fished along the bridge toward the first drawbridge and then turned back. As I approached the spot where I caught the first fish I got another fish of about 15”. It was on! I got Joe to come over and he started catching them too. We would go on to boat good numbers of fish. Joe stayed and fished this area while I went exploring and drifted down to the I-10 bridge and pedaled out to the first concrete pad with the transmission tower. I caught a few in each spot. Joe stayed in the hot area and caught approximately a limit (25) of trout. Three of them were in the 24” / 4 lb. range and all were nice fish. I caught 10, and there was no need to measure any of them. We came in about noon.

I tried a trip on Wednesday morning, the 3rd of January, but the wind was up and from the north at about 10-15. I was trying to beat a cold front that would drop the balmy temperatures we had been having into the freezing zone. The tide was falling out hard, waves were up to 3’, and the water was churned up pretty good. I had to cut it short as it became futile. Bad choice – should have launched on the north side of the lake to get some shelter from the wind.

I had a little time to try a short afternoon trip on Friday the 13th. I launched from the south shore about 3 p.m., knowing I had about two and a half hours until dark. The wind was from the east at about 10 mph, and the tide was falling out pretty hard. The water temperature was 52 degrees, and it was dirty. It took a heavy jig head to get the plastic bait down. And although I tried the fly rod I could quickly tell the 15’ sink tip was not going to get the fly down in the strike zone. So I stuck with the conventional tackle. I fished a chartreuse Gulp swimming mullet and fooled a couple of decent ~17” fish at the bridge, and then I tried a quick run over to the train trestle but did not have any luck there.

jan-13

I got a message from Eric M. and met him out at the south side of the highway 11 bridge at 6 a.m. Once again the fog was thick, and the east wind started slow, but blew up a good chop at 10-12 mph by about 11 a.m. The water clarity was about a foot to a foot and a half, and the temperature of the water was 58. The sky remained overcast and the air warmed to about 70, but it was cool out on the water – glad I had a jacket. I switched fly line to an Orvis Depth Charge, and it helped get the fly down in the water column. I used a black and chartreuse Clouser minnow that I had tied the night before. I got a bite from a 15” speck about 8 a.m. I did not see many bigger fish on the fishfinder, but there was lots of bait around the bridge. I caught 3 more trout in the area, using a troll and strip technique. The fish were clearly not as dense as when Joe and I caught them a couple of weeks ago. I made a number of passes up and down the bridge, went over to I-10 bridge, the train trestle, the rock wall beyond it, and the shoreline, but did not have any luck. I came off the water about 2:30 after covering 8 miles, but pedaling essentially the whole time.

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