Firstly, when it is about speckled trout fishing, it is all about how to become smarter than the fish. You have to know how a trout is going to react long enough before it does. Speckled trout are very smart. They understand that they are prey, so they will most likely try to avoid everything they think is going to harm them. So, as a fisherman, you have to be smart enough to catch the speckled trout fully unaware.
These fishes are usually caught by waders, from boats, from piers and from the shores. The techniques used to target speckled trouts vary according to the type of angler pursuing them. The reasons behind the popularity of speckled trouts are their abundance with year round availability, high-quality meat and their willingness to hit both artificial and natural baits.
Speckled Trout & Its Nature:
First of all, speckled trout are closely related to redfish, weakfish and croakers, surprisingly they do not belong to the trout family at all. Speckled trout are usually known by many unusual names such as spotted seatrout, specks, paper-mouths and yellow mouths. But when you hear somebody talking about Speckled trout, they are talking about the saltwater species most of the time. Speckled trout are from the drum family, that also includes Red drum, Black drum and Atlantic croaker. This family’s name was derived from the drumming sound which is produced through their air bladder.
Speckled trout can be found all over the entire gulf region and identified easily. They are mainly silver in color. They have olive green tints on their back with a huge number of small black dots on their dorsal fin also into the tail. Speckled trout have an elongated body with a large mouth. They have two canine-like teeth in the upper jaw, which is their distinguishing character. An average speckled trout is 12 to 14 inches long and weighs 1 to 3 pounds. But they can also weigh as much as 16 pounds.
Spawning Behavior of Speckled Trout:
- Their spawning season is from May to September. Their spawning activity depends on water salinity, currents and temperature. They prefer water temperatures between 58 to 81 degree Fahrenheit. A spawning season can provide you the best opportunities for catching speckled trout- particularly the trophy sized ones.
- You can find speckled trout in all inshore waters from the gulf coast of Mexico, extending over to Florida and also up the coast to Virginia. One important thing you have to know about the habits of a speckled trout is they like to spend their entire life in the same area. That means they don’t migrate at all. So, once you find them until a spot is not overfished, you may catch them at the same spots through years and even decades.
- Speckled trout prefer low-light areas and so they leave shallow waters after the sun rises. If you look for deep holes close to their spawning area or try the shade of local bridges, you may find them easily. Spawning mostly occurs at night and frequently coincides during a full moon.
- Speckled trout are basically ambush predators, and so they like to hide out in and around objects and obstacles. In that case, downstream of a bridge, grass beds, points, and docks are also their favorite spots. For speckled trout, moving water has always been the preferred feeding areas. Wind currents, tidal currents and flowing creeks are very good places to fish.
Baits and lure:
These tasty, beautiful fish are hard fighters who try to hit both artificial and live baits. Their food sources include crabs, squid, mullet and other small baitfish. What is their favorite food? Shrimp.
Don’t forget to use monofilament line with finer diameter because it will give better action to both artificial lures and natural baits.
There is no doubt that live shrimp or minnows can catch plenty of speckled trout, but properly applied artificial baits can also yield tremendous results. To make an artificial bait, use a 7 gm lead head with some any kind of rubber body. Try paddle-tailed, curly-tailed, or split-tailed grubs which can be very effective if you can make it look and behave like a shrimp. There is a wide range of colors that can be productive such as dark green, chartreuse or white. You can use any of those colors to the whole body or with tails having contrasting colors. Popular baits are with two colors ‘root beer’ or ‘salt and pepper’ tipped with green tails.
While using lures, you should use ones that can be easily cast. You can switch out often to move to different depths as well as experiment with the speed of the retrieve. If you hook a big one, try to keep it in front of you as you wind it in and running when you need to. When you bring it closer, it will try to make a few runs out. Then you should just drop the tip and let it go. Again when it really gets close, use the waves to bring it closer. Timing is a bigger factor here.
Speckled trout are predators. They mostly feed on shrimp and other crustaceans when they are smaller or under 12 to 14 inches. They prefer smaller fish (such as anchovies and silversides) as they grow larger. Larger specks commonly feed on menhaden, mullet and croakers.
If you have living shrimp using which you are going to fish, it is necessary to make sure that they are alive and also kicking, because they will catch more speckled trout this way. Try to Keep them cool, uncrowded and well aerated.
You can also use any ice chest as a shrimp box. Because it has a strong lid which can be a plug for easy draining, double as a seat and is insulated enough to help your shrimps off the bait-killing heat.
Speckled Trout Fishing Techniques:
Wading, surf casting, bottom fishing, landing nets, drift fishing,popping corks, slow trolling etc. are various common and effective Speckled Trout Fishing Techniques. These are briefly described here:
While surf fishing, you must remember that fish are usually tight against the shore. Hence, you need to make most of your casts parallel to the sand. Most importantly try not to send your cast out too far. These are very effective methods for fishing speckled trout and they also lend themselves to fly fishing.
You may want to fish in the “guts” of the surf particularly during high tides in the dips between the sandbars off the beaches. Remember, do not wade into the guts. Just Stand atop the sandbars and then cast into the guts. Because you do not want to disturb those areas. If you can see a flock of birds in the water, get ready quickly. Because now speckled trout and other predators are hopefully tearing through bait fish, and that’s why the birds are picking up the scraps. So, get into the position, then cast right into the fray.
3. Drift Fishing
It means drifting your boat over sandy flats, wrecks, oyster beds and rocky bottoms etc. In this case using a double “jig rig” is recommended. You should use soft plastic minnows, split-tail grubs or a combination of both.
4. Bottom Fishing
In bottom fishing, you can bait a Kahle hook with live shrimp. You can also use bait fish like croakers, menhaden or pogies. Besides, use a Carolina Rig attached with a light weight in order to get the bait down, but you must allow it to swim as naturally as possible. You can use this rig in inland bays or open water.
A landing net can be of great advantage especially when targeting trout. Every year, many fish are lost by anglers while attempting to swing a fish onto the boat or dock because they do not keep a net when the hook pulls through the mouth. Bridge fishing for trout is not recommended for this reason. Because the amount of pressure which is put on a trout’s mouth can result in a lost fish. But you can prevent this if you bring a bridge or pier landing net with you.
Popping a cork above a baited hook is also a popular trout fishing method. For this, you have to snell a hook to the end of the line. Then you need to attach a popping cork to the line about 18 to 24 inches above the hook. Free-lining baits can also catch a handsome number of fishes. To cast it, you have to only remove the popping cork as above using the weight of the bait itself. To gain distance, you may also add a some small split-shot weights of 7 to 9 inches in front of the bait. This setup most probably catches more fish than all other methods.
Speckled trout fishing is becoming a demanding sport since it requires knowledge. It is not enough to understand how the Speckled trout react, but you also need to learn what equipment and preparations you need. When you visit your local tackle shops or sporting stores, you will discover that there is often a huge collection of products designed specifically for trout fishing. To help you with your speckled trout fishing, there are many equipment specific things you might want to invest in. So, what you need to do is just look around the store to find what jumps out at you!