4 keys to topwater trout

A bone-colored topwater is all that’s needed to catch trout, as they mimic weak mullet, Capt. Theophile Bourgeois said.

Capt. Theophile Bourgeois has spent his career learning what makes trout tick, and he lives for that magical time of year when the big girls come out to play.

That’s when he pulls out his topwater plugs and goes to work — but don’t look for him to be obsessing over what color the fish want, because he’s figured that out.

“I order (Bomber Badonk-a-donks) 300 at a time, and they’re all bone,” Bourgeois said.

The reason is simple, said the owner of Bourgeois Fishing Charters, which is based in Lafitte La.

“Any time you see a raft of mullet, if you notice the ones in the back, you always see they’re discolored,” Bourgeois said. “Maybe a jack crevalle has nipped at them or something, but they’re the weakest ones in the raft.”

Bone-colored Badonk-a-donks perfectly mimic the sickly mullet struggling to live a few more minutes.

“If you get in that crystal-clear water, you can see the trout hanging around the back of the rafts,” Bourgeois said. “They’re watching those weaker mullet, and ever now and then you’ll see them flash through the mullet.”

That knowledge allows him to target his casts to areas he knows ups his odds of knee-quivering blow-ups.

“I’m going to throw my plug to the back of the raft,” Bourgeois said. “I’m not going to cast it to the front of the raft, where the healthy mullet are: Why would I throw it up there, where they’re on steroids and ready to shoot out the water at the first sign of a trout?

“Ninety percent of my big trout come off the tail end of a raft.”

He said he likes Badonk-a-donks because of the high-pitched sound the lures make during the retrieve.

“Every company makes two rattles: one high-pitched and one low-pitched,” Bourgeois said. “For redfish, I like a low pitch, but for trout I always want the high-pitched sound.

“I think it’s just the amount of noise in the water.”

Another key to topwater success relates to the retrieve.

“Everybody works topwaters too fast,” Bourgeois said. “Everybody is in a hurry; they want to catch one on every cast.

“Do you want quality or quantity?”

If you’re hoping to catch lunker trout, easy does it.

“You want to make long casts, and it should take 1 to 1½ minutes to retrieve the bait,” Bourgeois said. “If you move (your lure) more than 16 inches on a big trout, it’s done. It’s over.”

Knowing exactly how to work the lure is all about observing what’s happening.

“I’ll make my first cast, and I’ll twitch it, walk the dog a couple of feet and pause,” Bourgeois explained. “If I don’t see anything happening — the water boil, a fish move under the bait — I’ll lose interest and reel it and cast again.”

But if a fish reacts without taking the lure, Bourgeois said it’s imperative not to jerk the rod — a real test of nerves when a big trout boils the water.

Instead, just let it sit another moment, and then give the lure the slightest twitch.

If the fish refuses to make a move on the lure, there’s one more tactic that could get that hesitant trout to change its mind.

“You’ve got to make (the lure) move a lot — but not move it a long way,” Bourgeois said. “You want to make it erratic without covering a lot of water.”

So he’ll twitch his rod tip faster, which increases the lure’s action, but he wants to move it inches instead of feet.

“Once a fish has shown interest, it’s up to you to close the deal,” Bourgeois said.

About Andy Crawford 279 Articles
Andy Crawford has spent nearly his entire career writing about and photographing Louisiana’s hunting and fishing community. While he has written for national publications, even spending four years as a senior writer for B.A.S.S., Crawford never strayed far from the pages of Louisiana Sportsman. Learn more about his work at www.AndyCrawford.Photography.

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