Never Fail Inshore Targets
In the inshore world, some species get the bulk of the attention and are regarded as prized fish. The redfish is one of these species that gets a lot of attention, especially in the waters around Venice, Louisiana. Well-known guide and accomplished redfish tournament angler, Captain Mike Frenette fishes here regularly for them. His Redfish Lodge of Louisiana brings people from across the globe to fish for the coveted redfish, but sometimes things don't pan out and they shift gears to other species, or his guests would prefer something different.
While it's world-class fishing for redfish here, there are times when they switch things up to the never-fail targets as a backup plan. "As good as the fishing is, there are times when the redfish aren't biting," he said. "Nothing in fishing is a given and sometimes we call an audible because the tides aren't right or the water is too hot for the redfish. The great thing about the whole Gulf Coast is that there are plenty of options and always something that is biting."
Captain Mike Frenette with a nice Tripletail
Species in play
The rich waters of Venice and throughout the Gulf of Mexico are home to many different species and Frenette is happy to tangle with them all while fishing for fun or guiding clients.
"We let the conditions dictate what we are fishing for, but we make sure the clients always have something to pull on the other end of the line," he said. "Tarpon, triple tail, speckled sea trout, sheepshead, and flounder are options. We also have a lot of fun with the jack crevalle and black drum. Everyone heads out in the morning with species they'd like to catch in mind, but sometimes we have to switch tactics to make the day successful and create some excitement."
Two anglers double up
Two ways for Louisiana Tripletail
One of Frenette's favorite targets is the tripletail, which he often chases, finding success while targeting visible structures in the water.
"The easiest and most reliable way to catch them is to fish around manmade structures, like pilings, crab trap buoys, and things like that," he said. "They're not just a 'fall back' fish. They are a great species to target and love holding tight to these structures so they can ambush their prey. We'll either use live bait or jig artificials like the Strike King Tidal Shrimp, but you want to make sure you are staying tight to the structure."
With this method, Frenette likes to use a 50 lb Seaguar Smackdown braid for a mainline and pairs it with a 40 lb Seaguar Inshore Fluorocarbon leader. "When fishing a structure, you need to dog them out of there and you can't finesse them at all," he said. "The first thing they want is to get back into that pipe or platform and wrap you up to get free. That's why we use the heavier line and trust that it will be abrasion-resistant enough to get them back out."
Another way that Frenette catches tripletails is by sight casting to them while targeting redfish as they will often be in the same areas, in shallow water, and drifting with current.
"I like to have a Strike King Rage Swimmer in the 3.75-inch size rigged on a weedless hook and have it ready to go," he said. "It's sort of a hit-or-miss way to catch them because you don't see them every day, but if you can get that bait in front of them, they'll eat it right away."
A big hard fighting jack crevalle
Jacks and trout
One often disregarded, maybe even disrespected, fish Frenette enjoys targeting is the jack crevalle. They are a powerful fish that some anglers shun because they are not as delicious as other species in saltwater.
"Jacks are so underrated; they are the strongest inshore fish species. Period.,” said Frenette. "They get a bad rap because they are not great table fare, but they are a blast to catch, and I have clients that come down here just to catch them."
What makes them great, according to Frenette, is that once you find them, they're usually very willing to bite. "You can catch them on plastics, topwaters, flies or conventional tackle, and all kinds of baits and you don't have to worry about having the hot bait to get bit," he said. "When you have schools of them coming at you, it's like target practice and game on once you hook them. We call them 'one hour Jacks' because a good one will take you an hour to land it."
Jacks will eat many lures including vibrating jigs that are common in the freshwater bass world
Because of their sheer strength, Frenette advises 50 lb Seaguar Smackdown and a 25 to 40 lb Inshore fluorocarbon leader. "Everything with your equipment has to be perfect, from your rods, reels, and line to how you set your drag," he said. "These fish will test your equipment and you. I have the utmost confidence that Inshore Fluorocarbon will not break on me. You have to have your drag set and let them make their screaming runs when they want to and not get in a hurry."
The speckled seatrout is another option and a popular quarry for many inshore anglers. Frenette likes to keep them on his radar for their consistent bite whenever they find cleaner water.
Captain Mike Frenette with a nice speckled seatrout caught on a swimbait
"The best areas are always going to have some cleaner water with some baitfish, usually," said Frenette. "They like to be close to shore, just off of it, usually in 3 to 5 feet of water. This is where you will often find the bait congregating with flowing water just off the beach."
Frenette likes targeting trout because they often provide fast action for his clients once he gets into them. They will generally approach it one of two ways: either 'freelining' artificial lures like the same Strike King Tidal Shrimp he uses for tripletail, without a cork, and also using those same lures with a popping cork for added attraction.
Tidal shrimp lure
"We run 20 to 30 lb Seaguar Smackdown to the cork and then have a 3-foot leader with no heavier than 30 lb Seaguar Inshore fluorocarbon. When fishing without a cork, we combine the lines with a uni-to-uni knot. "Trout can be very line shy, especially in clear water, so there are times when we use lighter fluorocarbon. 20 lb would be a good starting point and we'll go even less for our leader size."
Happy anglers with a healthy jack crevalle
One of the great things about inshore fishing and saltwater, in general, is there are plenty of fish in the sea to target. Keeping an open mind and knowing that something will be biting is a great way to turn a trip around with a backup target species.