No one will argue that the
speckled trout is one of the premiere game fish in South Louisiana! Not
only is it great table fare but it is a terrific topwater fighter! When
hooked, it will give you quite a show as it dances & thrashes wildly
on the surface as it attempts to regain its freedom. Speckled trout are
known by many different names such as spotted sea trout, specks,
yellow-mouths, and paper-mouths. "Specks" are found throughout
the entire gulf coast & are easily identified. They are silver in
color with olive-green tints on the back and numerous small black dots
which extend over the dorsal fin and into the tail. The lower jaw is
larger than the upper jaw which has two prominent canine teeth. In
general, specks have an elongated body with a large mouth. The diet of
speckled trout consists of small crustaceans, shrimp, & small fish
such as pogies and croakers. The average size is 14-18" & weigh
1-3 lbs. Specks like shallow coastal areas near sandy & mud bottoms.
South La. has abundant bays and lakes that fit this description. Our
estuaries are among the best throughout the entire gulf coast!
SUMMERTIME FISHING FOR SPECKLED TROUT
The months of May, June, and July, are by far the best time to catch
specks. Speckled trout start
moving into our estuaries in April and the
summer months provide non-stop action. This is their reproductive season
& the only thing on their mind is "FEEDING"!
This is when you will find large schools of hungry specks in the coastal
bays & all along the barrier islands located south of Cocodrie. We
have many fishing techniques you can use such as drift fishing, bottom
fishing, surf fishing and wading. I like to utilize all four techniques,
but I think drifting is more productive in the summer months.
DRIFT FISHING occurs over oyster beds, sand flats, rocky bottoms, and
mostly near the numerous oilfield tank batteries and other related
structures. My bait of choice would be a tandem rigged artificial
cocahoe minnow or split-tail beetle. To locate the specks, start at the
surface and work your way to the bottom. Depending on the conditions
(wind & current), the fish may be holding near the surface or
suspended at mid level depths. If rough, specks will tend to congregate
near or on the bottom.
BOTTOM FISHING with live baitfish such as croakers, pogies or menhaden
,live shrimp and live killifish Cocahoe minnows) is also very
productive. This is one of my favorite types of fishing as I'm a firm
believer that this is the way to catch your trophy speckled trout! I
like to fish with a no. 5 or 6 kale hook for the larger trout. Hook the
baitfish through the lips or dorsal fin. Do not use any weight & let
the baitfish swim as free as possible. If you're fishing in deep water
or in shallow water where the current is too strong, use a carolina rig
with a small weight(1/4 or 1/2 oz.) to help hold the baitfish on the
bottom. I promise, you won't have a very long wait for the fish to find
your bait! Try to concentrate your bottom fishing around the deeper
oilfield structures in the open gulf or inland bays for best success.
WADING AND SURF FISHING is very popular & productive along south Louisiana's
barrier islands. Timbalier and Last Islands are located south of
Cocodrie, La. Specks are very abundant all along the chain of islands
& can be caught in great numbers on the gulf side as well as the
back side. I prefer to fish the gulf side & whether you wade or cast
from your boat, keep in mind most of the fish will be located in the
"GUTS" off the beach. This is a gully of slightly deeper water
that is located usually between the first and second sand bars. The
depth is usually 3-6 ft. and these guts run parallel to the beach.
Speckled trout and numerous other game fish use these guts to travel
along the beach while feeding. When fishing the surf, you need to learn
how to "READ THE WATER"!
What I mean by this is to look for signs of gamefish that may be
present. Some examples would be, starting with the most obvious, is
feeding sea-gulls. Find the feeding gulls and specks are sure to be
present. Feeding pelicans are another dead give-away. Schools of hungry
specks are feeding on the shrimp or baitfish sending them fleeing to the
surface to escape. Another sign of feeding specks are called
"SLICKS" These oil slicks floating on the surface is caused by
the active feeding of gamefish and regurgatation of baitfish. You will
usually detect a sweet smell near the slicks. Fishing under and around
these slicks are very productive for specks as most fish will be caught
on the bottom as they wait for injured baitfish and/or the remains of
baitfish falling from the surface. The best way to fish the birds or the
slicks is to quietly drift or wade into the area being extra careful not
to disturb the feeding fish. If you're in a boat equipped with a
trolling motor, use it instead of running your outboard! The best lures
to use in the surf are top-dog Mirr-o-lures, Johnson spoons, Zara
spooks, ripplin redfins, 52-M18 mirr-o-lures, plastic cocahoe minnows
and live bait is always an option. Also fish any cuts,washouts or points
with moving water all along the island chain. Pay particular attention
just inside and outside of the tidal passes as these areas consistantly
hold great numbers of specks.
WINTER FISHING FOR SPECKLED TROUT
August and September are known as transition months for speckled trout
in south louisiana. The spawning season is over and the large schools of
specks have broken apart. Specks start to migrate to the inland marsh,
bays, lakes and the numerous pipeline canals and bayous. I love this
time of the year because you don't have to travel far in search of fish.
Specks will spend most of the winter months in the deeper canals and
bayous as October thru March is prime time! The techniques used for
winter time speck fishing is quite different from the summer. Specks
cannot tolerate the cold water as well as other gamefish. As the
temperature drops, they will move into the deeper "HOLES"
seeking warmer water. Their metabolism slows and they are not aggressive
in their feeding habits. Dead-end pipeline canals or "POCKETS"
as we call them,are usually the best areas to fish for winter specks.
I use a single artificial cocahoe minnow on a 1/8 or 1/4 oz. jig head
and work it along the bottom. The secret is to work it as slow as
possible. The best colors are tuxedo, black/chartreuse, smoke/chartreuse
and avocado. Do not expect a violent strike, but rather a gentle twitch.
Watch your line closely and look for a slight movement to the left or
right. Slack in your line might also indicate a fish is present. When
you feel something out of the ordinary, set the hook firm but gentle.
Remember, specks have delicate mouths and are easily torn by the hooks.
Setting the drag properly is very important as you want the speck to run
a bit, rather than have the drag too tight, resulting in the fish
tearing its mouth. Another thing to be aware of is that specks are sight
feeders. You will need to locate good clean silt free water to be
successful. Clean water can be hard to find in the winter months. Cold
fronts play a major role in winter time fishing. With the passage of a
cold front, the winds usually blow 20-30 mph for a few days. The
combination of wind and extremely low tides will have the inland
waterways looking like chocolate. It is extremely hard to catch specks
in these conditions. As a rule, I usually don't fish until the third day
after the passage of the cold front. By then the conditions have
returned to near normal, making for a great day on the water! Now you
should have a very good idea on how to get your share of speckled trout
"SOUTH LOUISIANA STYLE" ! Take care on the water and good luck
Capt. Bill Lake
Bayou Guide Service
210 Gaynell Dr.
Houma, La. 70364
Capt. Bill Lake
Bayou Guide Service