October is arguably the best month of the year for coastal Louisiana kayakers. The weather is mild, with predictable patterns, and the fish are hungry. While speckled trout can be caught from the kayak year-round, now is the time they are heading back to the interior marshes en masse from their summer haunts in the outer bays. Fishing during the fall provides short paddles and less pressure, as many anglers switch gear to hunting seasons. Live bait is generally not necessary, and it’s prime time to get out in the ‘yak and fish. With the spawn over, trout no longer need the higher salinity waters closer to the Gulf. This is great news for areas like Southeast Louisiana that have seen a decrease in salinities due to hydrology changes from hurricane protection projects — which have caused increased retention of freshwater. As the trout return to the interior bays and lagoons, they can be caught alongside reds, bass and freshwater cats. Trout like grass, too. As these areas become fresher, submerged aquatic vegetation fills many of the ponds and lagoons. While fishing grass beds is common to bass and even red fishermen, trout are usually targeted in open water. However, simple changes to your lure selection will help you yank trout out of areas you never thought they existed. Popping corks are a staple for fishing trout with both live bait and plastic tails. However, fishing them around grass can be a challenge. Simply changing to a weedless jighead allows you to drop and pop a bait next to a grass bed, or down through an opening. The thin wire weed guard keeps the bait free of grass and bends out of the way on the hook set. If you prefer using hard plastic lures, the multiple treble hooks are a nightmare fishing in grassy areas. Try changing out the hooks on your favorite top-water or suspending lure to specially designed single hooks.They have an inline eye and are made with thin, strong wire that reduces the amount of fouling on grass, but doesn’t really impact the hook-up ratio. Several manufacturers are also introducing hard baits that come factory rigged with inline hooks. Of course, not all areas will be covered in grass and you can fish these areas with any of your favorite lures or live bait. Live shrimp are available at most marinas and continue to be a prevalent food source for trout throughout the fall, and even into the winter. And don’t rule out shallow areas for trout as long as the air temperature is mild and the water remains relatively warm. Areas that are only accessible by kayak can produce outstanding catches of trout during the fall. Medium to large shallow lagoons that narrow down to deeper passes and canals are often trout havens during this time of year. The trout spread throughout the lagoon during normal water levels and concentrate in the deeper areas if the water is low.
With the heat of summer fading, plan to fish longer if necessary. Use the kayak to cover ground and fish your way from spot to spot. Hit up any feature that looks fishy. Trout are working their way into schools, but may not be found all bunched up like they are later in winter when cold water temps concentrate them in deeper holes. Two or three fish from one small area may be all that you find, but if you move and repeat those small catches, you might end up with a limit before you know it. Reds, bass and flounder are also available throughout the marsh during the fall. The good news is that they all hit the same bait and lures — and in the same general areas. To specifically target certain species, some lures and techniques work better than others. For reds, weedless gold spoons can’t be beat. They work well through and near the grass, and reds can’t resist them. However, trout, flounder and bass are commonly fooled by gold spoons too. For bass, spinnerbaits and Texas-rigged soft plastics are favorites in the marsh during the fall. Just don’t be surprised to find a trout on the business end of a spinnerbait, or a flounder that has inhaled your bass worm.
If you find yourself out on a windy day, put the kayak to work to your advantage by either drifting or slow trolling. Get out in the larger lagoons or bays and drag a live bait or plastic tail on a light jighead. If the wind allows, let it move the kayak quietly along while having a rod in a holder pulling a bait behind you. Fan cast all other directions with a popping cork and you just might stumble onto a hotspot. Happy Fishing!
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