It’s hard to admit Florida beats us in this category when Louisiana is home to a world-class fishery.Enter your text here...
Florida has always held bigger trout. Why?
The sad truth is that Florida has bigger trout than Louisiana. In fact, their state record is 17 lbs and 7 oz! That beats our supposed state record of 12.38lbs by 5lbs! But why is this the case? Using what we already know about trout, let me shed some light on this phenomenon.
What Big Trout Like
Big trout are nothing like their smaller counterparts. They like clean, salty, moving water with lots of big baitfish. A bigger trout will eat the biggest thing it can find and then not eat as long as it needs to.
Louisiana has these things, right? Yes and no. We have them, but not nearly as well as Florida has them. Florida's largest trout, also the world record speckled trout, was caught near Fort Pierce.
If you look at a tide chart for this area, you will see that they have a lot more moving water. The range is higher and the tide is steeper.
With a semi-diurnal tide, as opposed to our diurnal tide, bigger trout will have the advantage of water that is constantly moving.
Strong tides like this could prove too much for smaller trout. Our weaker, less frequent tides may not be the best for a humungous 17lb trout.
Take a look at this tide from Fort Pierce, Florida.
Now take a look at a tide on that same day at Gardner Island (in Hopedale, Louisiana)
See the difference? The contrast is quite stark! Check out this easy explanation of the difference between diurnal and semi-diurnal tides.
Recall how I use satellite imagery to spot tidal rips and current lines. Using this I can locate where trout would stack up and feed on baitfish being pushed by the current.
How many more tidal rips and current lines could we find if the tide moved twice a day and was three feet tall?
My answer: a lot more.
Cleaner & Saltier Water
We all know what a river diversion does to the trout action and big trout are no exception. Fort Pierce does not have a large river dumping fresh water into the area and does not have thousands of square miles of marsh to buffer water from the full saltiness of the sea.
This provides a higher salinity environment that big trout thrive in.
A gigantic estuary like ours with its organic detritus and introduction of fresh water allows for a lot of turbidity.
Turbid water is really just a fancy term for saying "dirty" water. Chocolate milk is very turbid, whereas tap water is not turbid at all.
Turbidity and Speckled Trout
A place like the Bayou Biloxi marsh is an awesome area for small trout to mature because the water is turbid enough to protect them from most bird attacks.
A lot of trout wouldn't survive if it were not for this important factor. While turbidity is good for smaller trout, larger trout prefer cleaner water.
The clear saltwater of Florida provide this kind of water. Bigger trout are so big that they are not preferred targets for most birds anyways.
Also, trout have relatively thin gill plates that are easily irritated by particles suspended in turbid water. Again, bigger trout are creatures of practicality and comfort. They are not going to deal with an uncomfortable environment and will shove off in search of cleaner water.
Speaking of which, how do you know what clean water looks like in Louisiana's marshes?
A fourth reason is possibly genetics.
A few marine biologists believe some speckled trout populations are genetically different from one another. This concept is similar to that of the largemouth bass, with there being Florida and Northern strains.
Perhaps there are Louisiana and Florida strains of speckled trout? Not likely. Texas has their fair share of lunkers.
I do know that if I wanted to find bigger trout, I would have an idea as to where to start looking!
A good place to start is the Chandeleur Sound, or even Lake Pontchartrain. Out there the water is consistently cleaner and saltier. (Not the case with Lake P now that the MRGO has been closed) The baitfish are bigger and the tides are stronger.
Either way, this just gives me an excuse visit the Sunshine State and fish for big bass, big specks and even a snook or two.