Speckled Trout Vs. Redfish: Which One is Your Favorite

Updated on August 15, 2022

For inshore anglers along much of the gulf coast, there are two prized game fish that stand out from the rest of the saltwater bay species. Both redfish and speckled trout hold a special place in the hearts of those who walk the flats or drift the shorelines from dawn to dusk. Other fish, such as flounder and black drum, are regularly targeted as well, but speckled trout and redfish are more consistently sought after and caught by both fishing guides and recreational anglers.

Poling A Skiff On The Flats Captain Alan

Similarities Between Redfish and Trout

At first glance, speckled trout and redfish have a lot in common. Both reds and trout can be caught in many of the same types of fishing environments. Jetties, back lakes, reefs, shorelines, flats, passes, surf, channels, and just about anywhere else you choose to fish in the inshore and nearshore saltwater areas can hold both species in good numbers.

The size of both types of fish are comparable. For a limited time while the fish recover from a past freeze, the slot limit size for keeper speckled trout in most of Texas is 17 inches to 23 inches. The regular slot limit for redfish is 20 inches to 28 inches in Texas. As these limits show, the average keeper redfish tends to be bigger than an average keeper trout, but there is significant overlap in the lengths of trout and reds that can be caught during a good day on the water. Visit the Online Outdoor Annual Regulations by Texas Parks and Wildlife for the latest bag and size limits for each saltwater species.

The comparisons of redfish and trout don’t stop there. Both reds and trout will regularly devour the same types of lures and bait. Top waters, soft plastics, live shrimp, hard body lures, saltwater flies, and various types of live baitfish can entice a strike from a large speckled trout or an upper slot redfish. There are a few lures that might favor one species over the other, but those lures are the exception.

Both redfish and speckled trout make excellent table fare if you decide to take a few fish home for dinner. Specks have a delicate white flesh that ranks up there with one of the best fried fish that you will ever taste. Redfish can arguably be cooked in more ways than trout, including blackening and on the half shell.

Given the many similarities between speckled trout and redfish, you might wonder why you have to choose a favorite. For most anglers, perhaps you don’t have a favorite and you are thrilled to have either species bend your rod during your next fishing adventure. But some fishermen are particular, and they argue that one fish is better than the other.

Five Key Differences Between Redfish and Trout

Here are five key differences between redfish and speckled trout for those anglers that most choose a favorite:

1) Redfish can be caught in the pristine back lakes and on clear, shallow flats during warmer weather. The back lakes and flats are certainly amongst the most scenic places you can fish along the coast, and most trout tend to leave these areas when the water gets too hot. Redfish are not as impacted by the hot water and can be caught in shallow water throughout the year.

2) A big trout is truly a trophy. Those who target large speckled trout know that these fish can be few and far between. Any trout over 25 inches has the chance to win most one-day speckled trout fishing tournaments, but a 25-inch redfish probably won’t take home the top prize. Ask any top tournament fishermen who has fished for both trout and reds, and they will let you know the value of a big trout over a big red.

3) Redfish are better for sight fishing. Stalking fish in clear water can be one of the most exciting forms of fishing for both fly fishermen and those chunking artificial lures. Redfish are more likely to throw a wake or stick up their tails while swimming around in search of their next meal. Also, those red bodies just show up better against the grass and sand along the bottom, making it easier to spot them and be able to deliver a well-placed cast.

4) Big trout take more skill to catch. Although some will say that redfish are harder to get to bite than a trout, once you get a bite from a big fish, the trout is more likely to end up as the big one that got away. Trout have softer mouths. If you set your drag too tight, then you can easily pull the hook right out of a big trout’s mouth. If you set your drag too loose, then you give the fish more time to get wrapped around an obstacle or otherwise get free on its way to the net. Big trout often come to the surface and vigorously shake their heads, which leads to both a thrilling display and a frightening few seconds in which your lure can be spit and the fish gets away.

5) Redfish put up a better fight. Chances are that if you caught both redfish and trout during a day of fishing, your average redfish pulled a lot harder than your average speckled trout. This is no surprise as redfish tend to be a bit bigger, but inch for inch the redfish is the species more likely to pull out drag as you reel it in to the boat.

Battle of Inshore Favorites

Whether you are a trout snob or a redfish addict, catching either species can add to a lifetime of excitement as you continue on your fishing journey. Captain Experiences offers fully guided adventures targeting both of these fish as well as many other species in both fresh and saltwater. Let us help you plan your next trip, regardless of whether you prefer redfish or speckled trout.

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