We would all love to roll up on the first spot we stop at and find speckled trout or any other specific fish species we are targeting and just start stacking em up! But that’s not as easy as it sounds. You can spend days scouting and know where they are at. Then motor up the next day and it seems as though it’s a ghost town. In this article we will talk about the 7 steps to follow for finding speckled trout in Louisiana.
The hardest part of to finding speckled trout or any other species you are chasing is finding those fish early to get on that strong morning feed. There are a million articles out there that talk about the best knot to tie or best rod & reel combo or best bait to use, but what it really boils down to is your ability to find fish early and take advantage of that aggressive morning feeding pattern. Having good equipment is important but is second to your ability to find and locate fish quickly. If you can’t find fish, then all the best fishing equipment in the world wont put those fish in the boat! Here are the steps to follow to get you on speckled trout or any other saltwater species in Louisiana.
A lot of anglers use the “lets go out and find anything that will bite” attitude when heading out on the water. This rarely works out. You GOT to identify the species you want to target that day. Speckled Trout behave differently from Redfish who behave differently from Sheepshead who behave differently than Flounder, etc… Picking your target species is very important because you will have to employ different tactics to successfully catch good numbers of fish. Sure you may pick up a mixed bag of species on your fishing trip in Louisiana, but targeting the right species on the right day will give you the best odds for success. So keep your eye on the ball and be persistent.
Knowing the seasonal pattern is especially important when targeting speckled trout. During the hot summer months here in Louisiana speckled trout tend to be further out away from the docks and marshes. They will be outside the marsh in what we call “Big Water” where the water has a higher salinity. Speckled trout need that higher salinity water in order to spawn so you wont be finding many speckled trout on the “inside” marshes in the summer. During the winter or cooler months of the year the speckled trout do not require as high of a salinity content as they do during the spawning months so you can consistently find trout in the inside bay’s and marshes. During the winter months speckled trout are more focused on feeding and surviving rather than reproducing so finding trout closer to the docks and marshes is much easier.
Understanding the biology of the fish you are targeting will help you find them much quicker. If you take a quick look at Redfish, their biology such as larger gills, don’t require them to be in that higher salinity water. They can withstand and thrive in lower salinity waters. In addition, Redfish do not reach sexual maturity until they reach 27” in length. So the slot limit redfish that we are after (16” to 27”) can be found in the inside bay’s and marshes year round.
Seasonal patterns also dictate what fish are feeding on. During the spring and fall months we see huge shrimp migrations here in Louisiana. White shrimp leave the marsh in the fall heading out into the Gulf of Mexico to spawn and brown shrimp leave the marsh in the spring to head out into high salinity waters to spawn. During these migrations shrimp travel in predictable areas with strong tidal movements. Knowing where these strong tidal flows are and when the shrimp are migrating will put you in the right area to capitalize on those big speckled trout bites because they are following the food source. In the winter when there is no shrimp to be found speckled trout are feeding on finfish,shad, etc in the inner bays and lakes.
So getting a good understanding of the seasonal patterns and how they affect your target species will cut down on your search time.
Knowing the wind forecast is important not only for your safety but also in helping you determine what species of fish you should be targeting that day. If the wind is blowing 15-25 knots its probably not a good idea to try to get out to the outer bays and large open bodies of water. If you want to go get your butt kicked in 2-4 foot seas go for it, but probably not advisable. Fishing on high wind days should be a day to target Redfish,Flounder, Sheepshead and / or Black Drum. Plan on staying in the inner marshes and bayous and let the natural wind blocking marshes work in your favor.
Understanding how tides are affected by the wind will also help you in finding speckled trout. Some winds can stall or stop a tide flow and on certain winds the wind can help push water increasing the tidal flow. As a general rule of thumb is if wind is blowing from land out to sea it will drop water levels and stall tidal movements and if wind is blowing from sea towards land is will raise water levels and increase tidal movements. To read more about The Best Tide for Catching Speckled Trout check out our main blog page or click the blue link.
In most cases your morning will not start off with that picture perfect water level and tidal movement that you read the night before on your tide charts. This is usually due to wind speed and direction affecting the water level. Cold fronts can affect water levels too. In general cold fronts are accompanied by pretty strong winds out of the north dropping water levels and warm fronts are accompanied by strong winds out of the south raising water levels. Typically the water is dirtier during and following a cold front as the waters drop. And water is typically cleaner when warm fronts or winds out of the south or east pick up pushing that sea water into the marshes and raising water levels. Why are water levels important? Well, higher water levels provide more areas for fish to occupy and means cleaner water to fish. Lower water levels mean muddier water and eliminates areas for fish to occupy and also eliminates areas that you can fish effectively.
Sunny days make it easy to sight fish for Redfish back in the shallows, but on cloudy overcast days finding redfish in the Louisiana marsh takes a little more effort. We tend to have better luck locating and catching speckled trout on cloudy overcast days and catching redfish on those clear bluebird sunny days. Speckled trout are ambush predators. They tend to be under the bait looking up waiting for the right time to attack. If the sun is bright overhead, its tougher for speckled trout to see while looking up, whereas redfish are generally running shallow waters and looking down for easy pickings on the bottom. If you are going to chase speckled trout on those bright sunny days, get out early before the sun gets overhead and once the sun starts beating down on the water, move to your redfish spots.
Here is the state of Louisiana one of the reasons why we have such a rich diversity of fish species is due to the influx of nutrients coming out of the Mississippi River. With that said, not knowing where the river water is flowing and the areas it is turning into chocolate milk will put you on the sidelines searching for speckled trout. Use tools like Modis satellite imagery. Modis updates their images daily and is a great tool to use prior to heading out to fish to know areas to avoid and areas to fish. Find clean water and you can find speckled trout. Redfish can handle the dirty water but you will find better fishing if you can find clean water and avoid the areas getting turn up by the Mississippi River.
Social media has changed the game when it comes to knowing the local fishing reports in Louisiana. There are plenty of good social media pages such as Hook Dat Fishing Charters Facebook Page that can offer some good insight on what’s biting and where. However, do not use social media as your only tool for finding out the local fishing reports. People like to brag so it’s a good place to start to get an idea of what’s biting, what baits people are using and general areas to focus on. Something to keep in mind, if there are a lot of people posting on social media about smashing fish at a specific spot, then know that you are going to have a lot of competition or the fish may move out before you get there because of the obscene amount of fishing pressure. So utilize the steps outlined in this article and get out and find some fish.
A few other notes that will help you in finding speckled trout in Louisiana. Network, Network, Network. Don’t just talk with your fishing buddies, but talk to guys outside of your friend circle. Talk to that neighbor that annoys the hell out of you but seems like he has more time for fishing than working for a living. Talk to the guys at the marina where you buy your bait or to the guy standing next to you in the fishing lure section of your favorite fishing & tackle shop. Network and you may pick up a few tidbits to get you in the right area on your next trip.
Don’t just fish spots, but fish CONDITIONS! Know the weather, study the wind and learn where NOT to fish based on the incoming weather conditions and where you should be fishing to give you the best opportunity to fill up your cooler. You can eliminate a lot of time by knowing where the water will get muddy first on a given weather pattern. This comes with experience and time on the water. Take notes on those less than good weather days in addition to those banner days and refer back to your notes when the weather will be less than ideal.