normanJust minutes from downtown New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain is one of the most unique coastal lakes in the country. It has seen vast improvements to the water quality over the last decade. In addition the lake is seen by some as offering the perfect habitat for many species such as speckled trout, redfish and flounder.

Vandenborre realized the potential of the lake long before anyone was targeting trophy trout. He was particularly impressed with the eastern end – from the Twin Spans to the mouth of Lake Borgne. Here he fishes the series of bridges that offer current, food supply and bottom structure. These are some of the secrets to the magic of Lake Pontchartrain.

dockshot1His favorite areas are in the southeastern quadrant of the lake, where Lake Pontchartrain bottlenecks into Lake Borgne. Here are the Trestles, the narrow section of eastern Lake Pontchartrain where Irish Bayou and Slidell are connected by four concrete spans. The other top areas are the U.S. Highway 11 bridge, and the twin spans of the I-10, or Causeway, which connects Metairie to the Northshore.

hugDudley found this area to hold the largest trout he had ever seen. But he soon learned that these big trout here were very difficult to catch.”Lake Pontchartrain is very unique,” he said. “It’s not like any other place I’ve fished. The strikes are so short – they’ll grab your bait and spit it out before you can blink an eye. It can be really frustrating for people who are new to the area.”

But Vandenborre welcomed the challenges, while making adjustments to both his tackle and techniques. He went to a rod with a medium- to medium-fast taper to feel the subtle strikes. He even changed the way he held his reel so he could actually touch his line to feel any activity. With these changes, some say he took “finesse fishing” to a higher level, refining his techniques to an art.