Lake Ponchartrain among best spring fishing spots

Lyle Johnson
Captain Greg Schlumbrecht, right, and Goosie Guice show a couple of hefty specs caught at the Causeway bridge.

All that cold weather we had this year sort of put a damper on some of the activities in the outdoors. The bass spawn was later than normal, wild turkeys weren’t answering to hen calls made by hunters and the speckled trout fishing has been way off for about four months.

A couple of things that turned out pretty good was I haven’t seen or been bitten by a mosquito in my yard yet. This is the latest I’ve ever waited to cut the grass in my lifetime and the weather has been awesome, staying pretty cool.

But things are getting back to normal and we’ll probably be sweating and complaining about the heat and humidity pretty soon. A good sign of normality is that the speckled trout are being caught again; not on fire, but picking up.

One of the best springtime spots in our state for giant specs is Lake Ponchartrain and some reports have been trickling in about some pretty nice catches. It’s one of my favorite places to fish for specs and one of my favorite people to fish with is Captain Greg Schlumbrecht.

The estuary that includes Lake Ponchartrain is unique in many ways. The amount of bait fish that is produced here is one of the reasons that the trout grow so large. The methods of fishing are certainly different because of the depth; it can range from eight to fifteen feet deep.

Other that fishing the shoreline, there is not much structure available but the upside to that is that it can concentrate the fish where it is available. So just where could one catch some speckled trout in Lake Ponchartrain? Let’s take a look.

Closest to home is the power lines on the west end of the lake that you can see from Interstate 10. They run south to Kenner and east past Pass Manchac and hold fish in the spring and fall. Landings are available at Manchac, Peavine and the Bonnet Carre Spillway in Norco.

Depths range from 6-feet to 10-feet and fishing plastics on the bottom is the best all around methods for catching specs, redfish and an occasional flounder. Market shrimp will add drum and croakers to your catch.

As you head south along the power lines, there a few rigs as you near Kenner. Shell beds are always put down before a rig is built that adds to the attraction of the rig legs that also concentrate the fish. Fish them in the same fashion as the power lines.

The causeway bridge crosses the lake for 24 miles, running north and south and holds some of the biggest trout in the state. It’s a little deeper here, up to 14 feet, so fishing plastic on the bottom is a top producing technique as well. Heavier jig heads need to be used for the depth and the current; 3/8 ounces is a good place to start but ½ ounce or heavier may be needed.

On the east end of the lake a railroad bridge crosses the lake as well along with the Hwy. 11 bridge and the I-10 twin spans as well. The depths of these bridges are a little shallower; from 8 to 10 feet but the techniques that produce fish are pretty much the same as the other spots.

I like fishing these bridges because it’s much like bass fishing. A good troll motor is a must because of the current and the need to move from piling to piling. Anchoring is nearly impossible and usually after a fish or two you need to move to the next set of pilings or salt water stumps as I like to call them.

The technique is much like fishing a plastic worm; cast as near to the piling as you can and let your bait fall to the bottom. The strike can happen on the fall and is usually detected as a very light tap, then reel in the slack and set the hook hard to ensure a proper hook up.

There are artificial reefs in the lake that are located in 15 feet of water that are very productive as well and the locations of these reefs can be found at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/fishing/programs/habitat/viewdata.cfm.

The only downside to fishing Lake Ponchartrain is the wind. Lots of open water allows for very little protection from the wind. Eight miles per hour is about the limit for boats under 24 feet, so make sure you get a good wind forecast. Even on a calm day, the waves can come up pretty fast, so keep a look out for the weather as well.

The trout are showing up at the bridges says Captain Greg, “The water is dirty but the fish are still there. The dirty water is on top and the clean salt water is underneath. We’ve been catching them on Deadly Dudley’s in the blue moon and opening night on the bottom.”

For a great day on the water with a guide, give Captain Greg a call at 985 960-1709 or log on to tofishcharters.com to contact him. He’s beginning to catch really nice specs in the lake. Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. So until next time have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you.