March 8, 2018

Why the Spillway will Kick Ass for Speckled Trout Fishing

Smart inshore anglers foresee future opportunities when they pay attention to history.

The Bonnet Carré Spillway Creates New Opportunities

Right now there are two kinds of inshore angler in the Lake Pontchartrain basin:

  • those bummed over the spillway
  • those not so bummed over the spillway

Why would anybody not be let down over the news about the spillway?

Well, considering the last two times the spillway opened the fishing was incredible.

That's right. I said it.

Afford me a couple minutes and I'll explain why.

When was the spillway last opened?

The last two times were in May 2011 and January 2016.

The 2011 opening was the largest of the two, flowing for 42 days with nearly all the bays open.

In 2016 a max of 210 bays (out of 350) were open for 22 days, this gives us an idea as to how much water flowed into Lake Pontchartrain.

For comparison, the Army Corps of Engineers estimates they'll need half the bays open for about 20 days, starting today.

How was the fishing awesome?

It was awesome because anglers were still catching lots of speckled trout, especially big speckled trout.

Let's look at each opening individually.

Post-2011 Opening

A lot of anglers wrote off "Lake P" after May 9th, 2011.

But they were wrong when Dan Schmidt nailed a speck there weighing 8.14 pounds.

Then he did it again, two weeks later, bagging a monster weighing 7.84 pounds.

You can read that article here.

But that isn't all! In this article written by Todd Masson, Lake Pontchartrain veterans Chas Champagne and Kris Robert confess to nailing limits of...wait for it...3 to 5 pound speckled trout.

Robert claims this is due to the river water concentrating specks further east.

It makes sense, after all. Where ever there is river water is one less place to fish, eliminating a lot of water and giving anglers the chance to be more productive.

Post-2016 Opening

This opening was a little sooner than 2011's, taking place in January.

And even though it flowed with fewer bays for a less amount of time, it was still a lot of river water, probably even more if you include the other floods.

Yes, you should remember the 500-year and 1,000-year floods we had impacting every river from the Pearl all the way to the Amite.

In fact, there was not a single river that didn't flood to epic levels that year, dumping a colossal amount of river water into Lake Pontchartrain.

The effect was a repeat of 2011, but on steroids, with the best fishing in Lake Pontchartrain anyone had seen in years.

Hundreds of anglers regularly caught boxes trout, on the bridges and in open water.

The fishing was so good I was able to tag hundreds of speckled trout after keeping enough to eat.

The sight was unreal, seeing so many boats floating the east side of the lake catching speckled trout.

I distinctly recall shrimp drifting past, getting hit by trout at the side of the boat.

It was just unreal.

Filling all these tags was easy when the flood set Lake Pontchartrain on fire.

Could it be the same this time around?


It really depends on the weather.

See, river water isn't bad, it's fuel for the food chain.

And this fuel can really blow up the fishing, just not by itself.

It's a binary explosive, needing two parts to go BANG!

One part is river water, and the other part is saltwater.

Both of these combined in 2016 when the Lake experienced a consistent east wind.

This resulted in a lot of white shrimp growing in the lake and leaving in the fall, with all the trout stacking on top of them.


Smart inshore anglers see the opportunity in everything by maintaining a positive attitude.

They realize the spillway is just part of the natural cycle that every life form in its way has come to rely upon.

There's no point in nay-saying, whining or being unnecessarily critical.

Doing so is just wasting our energy.

Instead, lets look to the past to see what we need to do in the future.

After all, we have one part in place, let's keep our fingers crossed that the second part comes!

Stay Tuned

In the next article I am going to show you where river water flowed first in 2016 so we know where to start looking for the best fishing.

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.

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