NEW ORLEANS (AP) — When you fish for fun, you can cancel a trip whenever Bob Breck says Jack Frost is going to blow his frigid breath into the marshes of South Louisiana. But when fishing is your living and your client says he wants to go no matter what, you pull out your big coat, your stocking hat and your heavy gloves, and you go fishing.
That's what Capt. Marty Lacoste was faced with last week.
"It was horrible," he said of the wind and cold. "It was blowing 20 when we left the dock, and it got harder as the day went on."
LaCoste, though, did a couple of things to stack the odds in his favor, and he ended up having a remarkably good day.
First off, he hunted for clean water, and didn't stop until he found it. He knew the cleanest water would be in the most protected areas, and he was right.
"The main thing on a day like that is you've got to find the cleanest water you can find," he said. "If you can find clean water, nine times out of 10, you're going to catch fish."
LaCoste located water he liked Wednesday out of Dularge, but he couldn't buy a bite on tight-lined soft-plastics. He clipped a cork on his line, and it all of a sudden made the bait like a fish magnet.
"My first cast, I caught a 17-inch trout. I said, 'Look at this!'" Lacoste said.
He and his client continued to catch specks under the corks.
They were fishing 3- to 4-foot water, with tiger-colored Matrix Shads tied 2 feet below the corks.
The water was painfully low, and it continued to fall all day, pushed by the stiff northerly winds.
It was as low as I've seen it all year," LaCoste said. "If not the lowest, it was darn close."
After LaCoste and his client boated a box of speckled trout, they decided to change tactics to see what else was biting. LaCoste had expected a challenging day, so he brought along a little insurance.
"I always bring bait shrimp on days like that to use as a last resort," he said. "You can always catch something on bait shrimp -- redfish, black drum, sheepshead, something."
They did exactly that, boating a mess of reds and sheepshead.
LaCoste's sheepshead technique is as simple as fishing gets. He looks for pilings from dilapidated camps or oil-field structures, and fishes there. It's that simple.
He has some advice for people fishing the day after passage of a cold front: "Don't fish the day after a front," he said, laughing.
But if you do, keep hunting until you find clean water, and be sure to bring some bait shrimp.