Return to Grand Isle yields specs, great camp living

Last week, we were invited to spend the weekend at a Tony and Ann Taylor’s family camp on Grand Isle.

We arrived around 2 p.m. Saturday and dropped the Kenner VX at Bridgeside Marina. Talking to Buggie and Doddie Vega, the marina’s owners, they informed me the front of the island was loaded with schools of big specks.

“Just find the birds and you will catch big specs,” Buggie said.

Tony took his boat and headed to the rocks in front of the state park. We followed close behind running in calm water. A north wind at Grand Isle means calm seas, and at the mid point of the island, we noticed birds diving on large schools of shrimp.

I immediately headed for the birds.

Just before getting to the birds, I killed the engine and drifted into the school. Tyler Hebert made the first cast with a salt-n-pepper/chartreuse terror tail and yelled out, “Fish On!” He landed a solid 2-pound trout that was 16 inches long.

Kevin Hebert made a throw with the same bait and was hooked up.

I like throwing a tandem rig to zero in on color quicker. A 2-inch chartreuse sparkle beetle on top and a 2-inch avocado/red tail sparkle beetle on the bottom. Within minutes the school of speckle trout had drifted off, but we had managed to catch four big specs quickly.

We decided to move eastward and came upon more birds feeding. Again, we drifted into the school and picked up more 2-pound or better speckle trout throwing the same baits. Looking down the beach on the gulf side, we could see birds hitting the water for a meal and boats trying to catch speckle trout.

With the sun setting fast, we called it a day and headed back to Bridgeside Marina.  We had managed to catch 12 speckle trout between 2 and 4 pounds. Tony and his crew had caught 10 specs at the rocks.  Tony cleaned the fish when we returned. We fried fish and ate white beans and rice.

The next morning, Gretchen and I left the camp around 6:30 a.m.  Tony had taken his same crew from the afternoon before. They left at daylight and now Gretchen and I were catching up to them.

We reached the rocks next to Tony and his crew and Tony yelled out “Fish between the two sets of rocks!”

I eased the Kenner hull between the sets of rocks, dropped the anchor, and killed the engine.

We were sitting in a large school of rain minnows.  Fish were hitting everywhere.

Gretchen started throwing the salt-n-pepper terror and caught a speck on the first throw. I helped her put the spec in the boat and measured it, 11 & ¾ inches.

“Got to throw it back,” I said.

I started throwing my tandem rig and was catching two at a time. Gretchen was catching as fast as she could un-hook her fish.

All the fish we caught were the same size. Occasionally we would catch a 14 to 16-inch trout. Tony eventually picked up anchor and moved to another set of rocks.

We stayed in our location.

After a few hours, we called it a morning with 30 speckle trout.  We must have caught over 100 undersized fish, which were thrown back for another day.

One-cut method easy way to clean a lot of fish by yourself
Back at the camp, Jack Fisher had boiled three dozen crabs, which had been caught in crab traps set out the afternoon before.

“What a great way to spend a Sunday,” he said.

We had fished a .3 tide range, which is not a great tide range to fish without using live bait. A foot of tidal range is ideal.

Now came the fish cleaning part of the trip.

I had decided to clean at home and I like to use the one cut method when filleting specs.

1. Place the fish on its dorsal.

2. Cut from the anus down to the rib cage and along the backbone towards the head.

3. Place the fish on its side and fillet from the head to the tail.

4. Flip the meat onto the scale side of the fish.

5. Fillet the meat from the skin.

After a little practice, one can fillet one side of the fish without stopping the knife.  It’s a great way to clean a lot of fish by yourself and you do not have to remove the rib cage after filleting.


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