A neap tide is one that occurs when the difference between high and low tide is least. It comes twice a month in the first and third quarters of the moon. The problem with a neap tide … is that it can totally shut the trout bite down.
“A neap tide is a challenge in those tidal-dependent areas, which I consider to be all the eastern bridges in Lake Pontchartrain,” John Kendrick said. “Ironically, a lot of people stay in on windy days, but I want some wind, especially if I’m fishing a neap tide.”
In fact, Kendrick is so dependent on the wind when fishing a neap tide that he doesn’t even bother wasting his time if the wind is still when there is very little tide range.
In his estimation, neither water nor bait would be moving.
Kendrick prefers a 10- to 15-mph wind because that’s the only thing that’s going to move the water during a neap tide in a tidal-dependent area.
“A tidal-dependent area to me is a spot where the fish are used to there being more tide than less,” Kendrick explained. “Take the (Lake Pontchartrain) Causeway, for example. Because it crosses such a wide section of the lake, the tidal current isn’t as strong. Those fish are used to eating in less tide.”
However, move to the east side of the lake where the shoreline starts squeezing down between Big Branch and Bayou Sauvage national wildlife refuges, and the tide starts ripping as it moves in and out of Lake Pontchartrain.
“That area has so much tide that it’s their normal habitat,” Kendrick said. “A lot of water moves through there, so that’s their normal tidal pattern. The farther west you go, the less tide you have, and those fish aren’t as tidal dependent.”
In other words, during a neap tide with no wind, the trout around the eastern bridges become a lot less enthusiastic about feeding because there’s no tide bringing them any food.
The reason Kendrick likes the 10- to 15-mph wind during a neap tide is because it will move water much like the tide would, and it positions the fish in the same way.
“During spring, a southeast wind is your perfect wind,” Kendrick said. “Think about it: Everything is moving back in from the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Sound, and a southeast wind pushes water, bait and fish back in from those areas.
“That’s also why I like an incoming tide this time of year.”