May 24, 2018

What killed the bite at the Long Rocks?

This age-old spring hotspot was on fire, but only for a couple weeks before turning off like a light switch. These are my thoughts as to why this happened:

Fishing for speckled trout at the MRGO Long Rocks out of Hopedale, Louisiana was pretty good!

Catching a limit was easy, and we'd leave the fish biting.

One day we caught well over 100 speckled trout before ending the trip!

I'd say that's "classic" springtime speckled trout action in May, and traditionally we could see some degree of action remain there throughout the summer, despite most speckled trout progressing deeper into Breton Sound for the spawn.

Fish MRGO Long Rocks

What happened to the trout bite at the MRGO Long Rocks?

Sometimes this "classic" trout bite would begin as early as April, and last as long through June. But not this year. 

The great trout bite only lasted a couple weeks before abruptly turning off.

Well, what happened?

Many have weighed in on this, but these are my thoughts, some of which I haven't heard others mention. Let's take a look:

Boating/Fishing Pressure

Last week I fished the 14th, 15th and 18th, a Monday, Tuesday and Friday, respectively.

The week before that I fished a few days and all of these trips we did well jigging soft plastics, save the last.

Yes, there were boats there, most likely anglers who "knew how to fish" or were privy to early fishing reports.

The rest showed up after the word got out, without really any consideration as to why trout were there in the first place.

To say that there were a ton of boats at the Long Rocks would be an understatement.

MRGO Long Rocks crowded with boats

It's possible trout left because they were getting beat up by fishing pressure, but I don't believe it's anymore fishing pressure than what we've seen in years past.

Fishing pressure isn't anything new.

I remember fishing out there in the 90s and seeing what looked like a lot of used boats for sale.

Rafting Mullet left

We caught best in and around "rafting" mullet, or mullet staying near the surface of the water.

rafting mullet

When we were catching, we saw a bunch!

But when the bite died we saw hardly any at all.

It's possible the boating pressure caused those mullet to move out, and the trout followed.

High Rivers

There is way more freshwater in Breton Sound than what we've had in years past.

In fact, I remember 2011 and 2012 as being years we routinely caught trout limits across the entire sound, and those were years it wasn't covered in river water.

Still not sure? Just look at this article I wrote about the Freshening, or the massive amount of river water that has been flooding Louisiana's coast since 2011.

Today, most of my favorite spring and summertime trout hotspots are covered in pea soup, if not straight river water.

Trout are moving out to reproduce (if they're not already there), and need at least 17ppt saltwater to successfully spawn, according to this study

Well, guess what we are not seeing at the MRGO Long Rocks? 

That's right, salinities of 17ppt or higher, at least according to this Hydrocoast Salinity Map.

salinity map of mrgo long rocks

Click to Enlarge

For reference, here is the legend to interpret the map.

It seems to me that, during higher salinities of the past, the MRGO Long Rocks was a place they could feed between spawning.

Now, it is a place they stage before shoving out for saltier water, reducing the time they spend there.


Some people have an incredibly short memory, painting everything as "better back in the day", sometimes screaming "the sky is falling down" after a bad fishing trip.

And when that bad trip happens, they begin pointing fingers to blame some person or thing for their "calamity".

Honestly, I don't think there is "too much" fishing pressure, or "too many" guides or whatever.

At least half of the "Armada" at the Long Rocks weren't anymore a threat to speckled trout than if they had stayed home in the first place.

That and guides come 'n' go like one-hit wonders in the Top 40.

Nor do I believe limits should be dropped, though I do feel we could all practice a little conservation.

Remember, the only constant is change:

  • rivers go up and down
  • hurricanes come and go
  • water is inevitably opened up or dammed off
  • you get it

Just give it time...

I think we should be patient, because the rivers will eventually go down.

We will have a Saltening and, when we do, the speckled trout will have their heyday once again.

Tight lines, y'all!

Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a former fishing guide and lifelong inshore angler. He founded Louisiana Fishing Blog in 2012 to share his ideas as a charter captain and still writes in it today. Since then he's created a fishing university — LAFB Elite — where he teaches inshore anglers how to safely navigate Louisiana's coast and catch more fish.

You may also like

  • I can tell you this, as a fact. The difference in the amount of bait, (Pogies and Mullet) swimming by was VASTLY different. On 15 May, those schools were everywhere, and I caught an easy limit. The next day, almost identical wind/tide/water clarity conditions, there was very little bait swimming by, and I had to bust it to find a dozen keepers.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Never Miss Practical Fishing Tips & Tricks for Louisiana's Coast