Vol 37 | Num 3 | May 16, 2012
Article by Capt. Bruce McGuigan
Q: What are the secrets to catching speckled trout?
North Huntingdon, PA
A: Speckled trout anglers are a breed all to themselves. They tend to keep a low profile and don’t share a whole lot of information.
Speckled trout are an elusive, challenging fish to catch. Conditions have to be right, your technique has to be solid and your hook-set needs to be right on.
Here are some things I have learned over the years from some excellent speckled trout fishermen and from time spent chasing these fish.
For tackle, I prefer a 7-8 foot light/medium action rod. The longer rod lets you cast your lure further and the soft tip helps you with gently setting the hook. Remember, these fish have extremely soft mouths, so a delicate hook-set is crucial.
When choosing a reel, look for a medium to low gear ratio. Look for one around 5.1 or under. The Shimano Spheros 5000, the Penn Conquer 5000 or the Fin-Nor Inshore Spinning Reel in the 4000 or 5000 size are all good speckled trout reels.
I like to spool my spec reels with monofilament. I know a lot of fishermen like to use braided line, but remember that monofilament will give you a little stretch, which again, softens the hook-set a bit and won’t tear the lure from the fish’s mouth. The lighter line the better. Monofilament in the 8-10 lb. test range is perfect. If you do use braided line, just use a 3-4 foot top shot of fluorocarbon leader.
Most of the speckled trout fishermen I know choose MirrOlures as their number one lure for speckled trout. MirrOlures come in various styles, but you want to choose ones from their “Sinking Twitchbait” line. I haven’t done well with topwater lures for specs. My favorite lures are ones in the 52M series, a MirrOlure classic. These lures sink at a rate of 1 foot per second and don’t appear to have much action, but speckled trout love them. My 1st choice is their 52M-808 which has a black back, fluorescent orange belly and gold scale. My number two choice would be the 52M-11 that has the classic red head, white back and belly and silver scale. My third choice would be the 52M-704 that has a fluorescent hot pink back, yellow belly and silver scale. This one is also known as the Texas Chicken. Other good colors are the “PD” (Purple Demon), “NS” (Night Stalker) and the #18 that has a green back, white belly and silver scale.
I have also found MirrOlures in the STTR and the TT series to be effective. I like the root beer colored lures.
Sometimes, speckled trout will hold on the bottom, so another good lure to use is a 1/4 to 3/8 oz. jig head tipped with a 4-inch curltail in a metal flake style. Good colors for the curltail are silver, root beer, smoke and chartreuse.
When it comes to colors, speckled trout can be very finicky. During one part of the day they may be hammering a certain color, and in the next instance you couldn’t buy a bite. Don’t be afraid to change lure color. Make a couple of casts and if you don’t get a hit, change it up.
Conditions are important no matter what type of fish your are targeting. For speckled trout I like clean, green water. The current has to be moving and I prefer the outgoing tide when the bait is being pushed down the bay. Give me a 20 knot, northwest wind on the front edge of an approaching system and 6-feet of water that has a broken shell, gravel or sandy bottom and I am right where I want to be. Water temperatures should be in the low-50’s to the mid-60’s. This is typically conditions we can find in the fall which coincides perfect when the fish are more concentrated, getting ready for their migration.
As far as technique is concerned, I cannot over emphasize a slow lure retrieval. This is key to hooking speckled trout. Stealth is another important aspect. These fish can spook easily, so you don’t want to go flying into your spot. I like to arrive as quietly as possible. After I set my anchor with my bow into the current, I usually wait for 10-15 minutes before I throw my first cast. This lets everything settle down. I then cast perpendicular to the boat and let the lure tumble into the tide, slowly sinking as it moves towards the back of my boat. If the current is really moving, I wait longer to begin my S-L-O-W retrieval to allow my lure to sink. Most strikes seem to happen just as the lure is swinging around the back corner of the boat, right before it is directly behind us. When I am using a MirrOlure, I only use a slow retrieval technique. If I am using a jig head, I will give the rod a slight twitch, but also keep the retrieval as slow as possible. If think you are retrieving as slow as you can... go slower!
When the strike happens, DO?NOT set the hook like you see those bass fisherman do on TV. Let the line come tight and crank through it. A hard set will only tear the lure from the fish’s soft mouth.
Speckled trout fishing can be a lot of fun and be prepared, it can be addicting. When you think the bite may be over, keep fishing. It tends to occur between mid-September when the bunker are moving out of the bay up to the 1st week in December.
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