There’s no doubt that a popping cork with a soft-plastic underneath is a deadly way to catch a boatload of speckled trout — particularly in the fall when fish are gorging on white shrimp.
However, Capt. Charlie Thomason would rather get a root canal than stare at a cork for hours. He certainly rigs them up for his clients because they’re so user-friendly and efficient, but the veteran guide’s real passion lies in throwing hard-plastics for specks that rip the rod out of your hand.
Based out of Hopedale, Thomason said hard plastics such as MirrOLure’s MirrODineXL and Fat Boy are effective during November inside the marsh because they mimic a variety of injured bait.
“There are a lot of pogies in the water this year, and those baits give off the same silhouette,” the Bayou Charters owner said.
Thomason fishes these baits with a twitch, twitch, fall retrieve, and he said the fish invariably strike on the fall.
Because these lures imitate baitfish so well, understanding what the bait is doing in November is crucial to knowing where to throw the lures.
“As the fronts pass through, the winds turn to the northwest, and it’s going to blow the water out of the marsh,” Thomason said. “The bait rides the outgoing and incoming tides. Those fish really tend to gang up at the mouths of big bayous because it’s a great ambush point for them to catch bait on a falling and incoming tide.”
When looking for areas to chunk hard-plastics, Thomason looks for underwater structure that holds fish and filters the water.
“You want to fish those 3- to 5-foot areas that have oyster shells,” he said. “It’s more or less the secondary ledge you’re fishing this time of year.”
In addition to the subsurface plugs, Thomason keeps topwaters handy.
“I’ll catch fish on topwaters in the winter, but the prime time for topwater is the last two weeks of October through the end of November,” he said. “As long as you have foggy days, you’ve got good topwater action.”
November isn’t really hardcore winter yet, and Thomason said that’s advantageous when it comes to feeding patterns.
“The fish know winter is coming, so they start stocking up and gorging themselves to try to get as much fat on them as they can, so when winter comes, they can sit and not have to move much,” he said.