Anglers who fish specifically for trophy speckled trout might spend long hours casting hundreds of times while hoping for one or two bites while ignoring nearby boats filling ice chests with smaller fish, but any cast could produce the fish of a lifetime.
“Sometimes, fishing for big trout is about as exciting as watching ice melt – until one hits!” said Kirk Stansel of Hackberry Rod and Gun (888-762-3391) who guides on Calcasieu Lake near Lake Charles, La. “When we leave the dock, we have to decide to target big fish or a lot of fish. It can be pretty slow when looking for that one big strike.”
Not to state the obvious, but to catch trophy trout, anglers must first find them. To find big trout, get away from the crowds. Whenever possible, fish odd hours and go during the week when fewer people roam the waters. Moreover, avoid following schooling specks feeding upon shrimp. While all trout eat shrimp, specks exceeding 3 pounds generally prefer fish, usually mullets, menhaden, pinfish, croakers, and even small trout.
“Large trout change their food habits,” advised Keith Kalbfleisch with Saltwater Adventures of Central Florida (321-279-1344) who fishes near Titusville on the east coast of Florida. “They become more ambush predators as they stalk the shallows looking for prey. They’re not running out into a school of fish with a thousand other trout.”
Instead of running down prey in open water, big trout act more like redfish or largemouth bass. They prefer to settle into cover and wait for morsels to come to them. They hang around sea grass beds, oyster reefs, rock piles, sunken boats, jetties, drop-offs, humps, or other hard, irregular structure where they can ambush prey. Go to isolated reefs or channel edges with access to deep, salty water surrounded by abundant large forage.
“In some ways, fishing for big trout is almost like bass fishing,” Kalbfleisch explained. “Big trout are opportunistic predators and take things that come close to them. A bait that I’ve probably caught more trout than anything else is a 5-inch fluke or soft jerkbait in a fishy shape. I like natural fish colors with a dark back and a whitish or greenish belly. Pearl, rainbow or glow are also great colors. Don’t use much weight, just enough to make really long casts and throw it as shallow as possible. Just twitch the bait and hop it. Don’t move it too fast. Really just take up the slack after twitching it.”
Although it might hit anything, trophy trout generally prefer bigger, slower baits. A giant trout conserves energy by occasionally grabbing one big, easy meal that it can catch without expending too much energy rather than chasing down a bunch of tiny morsels. Since big trout don’t feed that often, they generally stay in the deeper water at the bottom of the drop-off when not feeding. When they want to hunt, they rise up to the shallows and pick a place where they can ambush passing baitfish.
“Big trout are loners,” explained Chad Peterek with Chad Peterek Guide Service (361-920-FISH) who fishes the Baffin Bay and Port O’Connor areas of Texas. “People can occasionally catch a really big trout when fishing around smaller trout, but when I’m looking for a big fish, I like to fish close to a drop off. I’ve caught more big trout in areas within 500 yards of a big drop-off than anywhere else. When it’s cooler, I fish over a drop-off and throw deep. During a warming trend, I like to fish shallow, but close to an area with a sharp drop-off.”
People can catch trophy trout on a variety of jigs, poppers, spoons, and other temptations, but large top water baits often produce the best strikes. Many top water baits, especially the walk-the-dog varieties, mimic wounded baitfish struggling on the surface.
“When I’m fishing for bigger trout, I predominantly use bigger bait,” revealed Peterek, who has caught trout topping 11.25 pounds in the past. “I’ve seen big fish eat tiny baits, but I like to throw big top waters like a MirrOlure He Dog. In calm conditions, I throw a She Dog because it’s a little smaller and doesn’t make as much commotion as a He Dog.”
When all else fails, offer fish a chunk of squirming meat. Pick a spot with easy access to both deep water and shallow feeding flats. Place several rods with various live temptations, such as mullets or croakers, at different depths – and wait for that one bite of a lifetime!
Shop Sportsman’s Guide for a fine selection of Fishing Tackle!