Having a successful day on the water this time of year can be tricky, mainly because of the prevailing cold fronts that seem to move in and out of the area with reckless abandon. However, one should not get discouraged by the ever-changing conditions. As a matter of fact, there are times when those fronts can actually be of benefit to inshore anglers if you know what to target and where. This brings me to the subject of this month’s report: speckled trout A.K.A. sea trout, specks, spotted sea trout and so forth.
Contrary to popular belief, sea trout are actually not trout at all. They are a member of the drum family, which is comprised of species such as black drum, the closely related weakfish and the more well-known redfish. Interestingly enough, the fact that they are so closely related to these other aforementioned species gives us some clues as to where and how to target this most popular “winter fish.”
Not unlike their closely related cousins, trout tend to stage in areas with deeper holes and troughs that are adjacent to shallower grassy flats. Although they will hang on harder sandy bottom, trout are primarily drawn to spots that have hard bottom structure nearby, such as oyster or marled shell. If you’re “thinking like a fish” this puts you in a prime location to not only forage, but to escape predators as well, regardless of tide.
Keep in mind, as tidal waters move in and out, so too will the trout. On the lower end of an outgoing tide, you can expect that these fish will congregate in those deeper cuts and troughs, as that is where a lot of the inhabitants that they are feeding on will end up. The beautiful thing when fishing these deeper pockets is that trout will stack up in them, meaning if you find one, you’ve most likely found the motherload!
On a higher tide, these fish will move out of the troughs and on up to the shallower grassy areas, making short work of small bait-fish and crustaceans that are being flushed across those flats on the incoming tide. It is during these stages that fishing top-waters and swim baits can be deadly.
By now, you must be asking yourself how all of this is relevant to my initial claim of cold fronts actually being of some benefit to the inshore angler during this time of year. Well, the answer lies within that most important of all variables when targeting any species: water temperature.
As with most inshore species, when waters cool, trout tend to migrate towards areas where the water temperatures remain at a relative constant. So, if you take into account all else mentioned in this article, then you are sure to find a trout bite no matter what the conditions.
Until next time… keep ‘em tight!