Speckled sea trout are a popular game fish known for their aggressive bite and delicious meat. As one of the most prolific inshore species on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, anglers use the common assortment of fishing techniques to target them. During my conversation with Captain Mitch, a Corpus Christi fishing guide with 25 years of experience, he explained how some anglers target speckled trout while trolling.
Spotted seatrout also known as speckled trout or specks, are actually related to the drum family despite their name. An American favorite light tackle game fish, speckled trout have elongated bodies that are silvery-white in color, with black dots down their sides and on their fins. Speckled trout will sometimes also have a yellow to golden mouth, but as they age, the yellow mouth and spots fade.
Specks can reach over 35 inches and 15 pounds in their eight to ten years of life. However, the average trout is typically around 18 inches long, and three to five pounds. The world record speckled trout was caught in Fort Pierce, Florida and weighed 17 pounds, 7 ounces, with a length of 39.5 inches.
Speckled trout feed in shallow inshore waters that range from beaches, jetties, and inlets to flats, bays, and backwater. Captain Mitch explains that “trout are ambush predators so you will find them near grass lines, oyster beds, and drop offs where they can sit and wait for food.” Seasonal fluctuations in water temperature also affect speckled trout. When the water is warm, speckled trout spread out to find food but cooler temperatures push these fish back to protected waters. Speckled trout are sensitive to cold conditions and seek out areas that hold temperature. To find speckled trout during winter months, Captain Mitch advises anglers to “find areas with a mud bottom. Mud heats up faster and holds warmth better than sand.”
Fishing for speckled trout is similar to many other inshore species with live bait, soft baits, and hard baits all in common use. Fly fishing is also popular but speckled trout are often a celebrated by-catch while on the hunt for redfish. The strong predatory behavior of speckled trout makes cut bait fairly ineffective. Mitch explains that “these fish almost never hit dead or nearly dead bait, they want to kill their prey.” The most popular methods used to catch speckled trout are wading or drifting bays and flats while casting live bait or artificial lures.
Trolling is a technique most anglers associate with northern freshwater fish or offshore pelagic species but not speckled trout. Captain Mitch agrees that trolling for specks is an uncommon approach but continued to explain that it can be done and it’s effective.
The baits used to troll for speckled trout are typically a soft plastic paddle tail, swimbait, or shrimp and a weighted jig head. This is a common setup for anglers that wade or drift for trout but, Captain Mitch says “the baits are towed very slow. Put the boat in gear and let it idle.” This technique is used in the winter when trout are lethargic and head to protected mud bottom canals and back bays. While trolling for speckled trout is a unique approach, Captain Mitch says “it’s effective, but it’s not how I like to fish for them.”
Updated on December 6, 2022
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