Springtime Speckled Trout Fishing
Spring brings new life and with it often brings great fishing. Most of the speckled trout are leaving the rivers and creeks where they have spent the last several months and they are hungry! Most of the baitfish and shrimp are in very low supplies right now so speckled trout are not very picky. Speckled trout are doing three things right now; looking for food, headed towards higher salinity water and avoid being eaten.
Looking for Food
Speckled trout and other predator fish are looking for food and as much as they can find right now. As I mentioned before the vast majority of speckled trout are leaving the rivers and creeks right now in search of food. Where will they find this food? They will look for food on shallow flats, oyster and other reefs, and grass beds. In my experience speckled trout will find pogies, shad, glass minnows(bay anchovies), finger mullet and a few shrimp in these areas during the springtime.
While the water temperatures remain stable under 75 degrees speckled trout can and will adapt to very low salinity conditions. This is how and why we find speckled trout in the creeks and rivers during the cooler and colder months. However, as the water temperatures rise above 60 and the days become longer speckled trout are tuned to head toward higher salinity. Salinity at or above 15ppt. The higher salt concentration is imperative for speckled trout and other marine life to have successful spawning cycles. The first major speckled trout spawn will likely occur at or near the last full moon in April or first full moon in May.
Avoid Being Eaten
Despite the fact that speckled trout will eat another fish nearly the same size as they are. They too are on the menu for larger fish and large marine life. Thus another reason for speckled trout to be found hanging out around shallow flats, reefs and grass beds. The shallow water can be difficult for dolphins, sharks, bull reds and other large predator fish from making a meal out of a speckled trout. While reefs and grass beds can provide some cover for them to hide.
On the Flats
This is where you will find me targeting springtime speckled trout; on the flats. Look for flats close to the deepest water near the mouths of creeks and rivers. I will look for some visual clues like fish slicks, jumping mullet, or any type of surface disruption. I will use the wind to my advantage and not complain about the wind blowing. The one fishing method that will catch more speckled trout than any other method is a popping cork rig.
Drift till you Find them
While on the flats you should use the wind to your advantage. Position your boat up wind of the main areas you wish to target and then start drifting. Cast down wind and work your baits back to the boat. As you are covering water you may find long stretches of little to no productivity, this is normal. once you get a strike or catch a fish then you may want to slow your drift in that area or stop the boat all together. Sometimes stopping the boat can result in catching 2-20 more speckled trout in one spot. Other times it may just be a waste of time to stop. Some days its best to drift until you stop catching and then circle back and do it again.
Reefs are natural, man-made or a combination of both. Usually made up of some sort of shell or other hard structures like word, fiberglass, rock or concrete. Reefs are great for targeting speckled trout in the spring time because these reefs will usually harbor other smaller fin-fish that can easily be on the menu. Many of the reefs I target are going to be in water less than 10′ and I can use a popping cork or slip cork rig along with a variety of lures that work the entire water column.
Position can be everything
While on the flats we will use the wind to our advantage and cover large amounts of water to catch our springtime speckled trout. However, on the reefs you can be 30′ from the best spot and never catch a fish, while your buddy next to you is catching them every cast. It seems to me like speckled trout are roamers while on reefs until they find the perfect underwater setup. The wind is coming one way and the current another and it creates the perfect ambush point behind the largest pile of shell/rock. That is where your buddy is casting. You on the other hand have vast amounts of evenly placed rock that for some reason doesn’t appeal to the fish today. My recommendation is to cover these reefs very slowly using your trolling motor and when you find that one spot that’s holding the fish then lock it down.
Grass beds are normally going to be in areas of 10′ or less and in many cases 3′ or less. You will need to use a combination of flats and reef fishing tactics while fishing grass flats. I fish Mobile Bay and Mississippi sound and our grass flats are fairly isolated to a few select areas. Most of the time I will target speckled trout using lures that are either weedless or float above the grass. Look for days with a little wind but not too much. Too much wind will make it difficult to make accurate casts. Too little wind and you are having to use your trolling motor too much which could spook your fish.
Springtime is Getting Time
Spring is here and the fish are hungry. If you can get out then locate your speckled trout in one of the three areas I discussed here. You will likely find the largest concentrations of fish in one of the three areas I above discussed. Save the headache of trying to figure out all the details and hire a guide to show you some of how its done. Right now is the time to go catch speckled trout and a lot of them!
Good Luck Y’all!
Captain Patric Garmeson