|29 1/4" Speckled Trout caught on a Paul Brown Fat Boy|
For the past two years, I have been chasing a 30" Speckled Trout. This number is stuck in my head because, in my mind a 30" Speck is considered a true trophy anywhere you can find them. I have probibly had a few fish at that 10 lb mark, but not the "dirty thirty". In this chase, two things have become apparent though. First, I have become what my friends call the stereotypical Speck fisherman. Come the fall, Gators consume all of my free time. Second, I have become pretty damn good at finding, and getting the big girls to bite when most people can't. With that out of the way, I will first start off with the areas I target.
In the fall and winter, when these fish become lathargic, I fish where I can find any amount of baitfish. This generally equates to warmer water which are typically shallower flats. Now when most people think of a flat, they think of an area with a set depth. This is not always the case. On these flats, even a 3-6" depression is enough for these fish to feel comfortable and ambush their prey. I also focus on grass lines, submerged structure, and choke points. For you hunters or military folk, think of a place that you would set up an ambush.
The next type of area I focus on is what I consider an intermedate area... Dropoffs. These big specks dont want to expend a lot of energy chasing down their prey, so if the current is sweeping bait off a flat or over a ledge, you can bet that youll find a speck or two waiting for an easy meal.
The final area is the depths. These areas are sanctuarys for fish in the winter because they can find the most consistant water temperatures here. Mainly, these fish will be suspended, and tougher to target, unless you have the right tools.
Other considerations can be made given the time of day you are chasing these fish. For example, at night I enjoy fishing dock lights and light lines. These are areas where something as simple as light can create artifical structure that hold prediator and prey alike.
Baits and Gear:
|Tactical Angler Clip|
Leader - I fish with 20-30 lb Seguar Red or Blue Label, prefering the 25 lb Blue Label over all. I only downsize my leader if I am having an issue getting the presentation I desire.
Connectors - This is a must for a quick lure change. I tried in the past the snap section from a swivel, but have had some heartbreaking losses because of tackle failure. Also, they are a pain to work when your hands are cold, which happens to be 80% of the time. Because of this, I have switched over to the small Tactical Angler Clips. These dont seem to bother the fish, and facilitate quick and easy lure changes, even on jigs and ewg's. Finally, I have yet to break one, even on fish well above the advertised breaking strength. Without these, I dont think I would be getting the numbers of big ifsh i am fortunate enough to find.
|27" Speck Caught on a TA Crossover Stalker|
Photo Credit - Joe Underwood
Topwater - Keep these handy, because you never know when you will get that magical topwater bite in some of the craziest conditions. High pitched baits like the Mirrolure He-Dog work well for active fish, while your one knocker spooks work well for more timid fish. Personally, I love fishing the Rapala Subwalks, and the new crossover series baits from Tactical Anglers. The bait pictured below got me my PB topwater speck at 27" just last week.
|Tactical Angler Crossover Stalker|
|PTL Swinging Hammer on a Weighted EWG and Jig Head.|
Another plastic that has found a place in my tool box is the PTL JP Hammer Shad. I like fishing this bait around ledges and in the depths. It mimmics a prevelant baitfish this time of year, the Guedgon. I pair it with either a Scrounger jighead for a very tight but agressive wobble that brings the fish in, or simply on a jig head working the depths. This bait on the Scrounger tends to trigger very agressive strikes, whereas a regular head tends to attract fish on the fall, simply picking up the bait and hilding on to it.
|Another Gator caught on a PTL Swinging Hammer|
|PTL JP Hammer Shad on a Scrounger and Conventional head.|
|A 26" Speck Caught on a PTL Swinging Hammer|
Photo Credit - Rob Choi
|29" + Speck caught on a Fat Boy|
|Paul Brown "Corkeys" from top to bottom:|
|Vudu Mullet and Heavy Dine.|
There is noting in the world like getting a gator speck to hit a twitch bait you casted to it. The heavy thimp from the first second is adrennaling pumping. However, there are times when the fish are scatered and you need to work larger areas to find them. This is where the great trolling vs. casting debate comes into play. I for one will utilize either technique on any given outting to help maximize my catching potential. I will troll until I find fish in an area and/or a pattern, then start casting. One thing to keep in mind is that you are still working and searching for the fish. You have to get the right depth, color, presentation, and area to acomplish either. Trolling also presents the challange of line management. which increases the complexity of this method.
Current - current is one of the largest tangables that you will face. The current helps give you an idea where the fish are going to stage, and it also moves bait into and out of areas. The general rule is to work with the current, whether it be casting straight up current working down, or fan casting to 45* to find your fish. If you are not catching fish working with the current, do not be afraid to go against common fishing conventions and work against the current. This method is not a top producer, but going against the current has produced fish for me when going with the current has not.
Lure speed - I have learned that the bigger fish tend to hit on slower, less agressive presentations. With that being said, I will start off slow, and work my way towards faster presentations. Many times, the smaller fish will hammer faster presentations out of instinct. These reaction strikes are due largely to competition with other, larger fish. If you're not catching the size specks you desire, slow down your presentation and hold on.
In closing, I hope that this gives you some insight into Gator Speckled Trout fishing. Good Luck, go on out, and stick a pig!
|28" Speckled Trout caught on a Fat Boy|