With a relatively warm February about to wrap up — and a warm March seemingly in the offing — Capt. Kris Robert will take advantage of the early bump in water temperature to capitalize on speckled trout that have already moved up to the flats.

To do this, he uses a two-pronged approach  to make his presentation as enticing as possible to specks in wintertime feeding mode, combining heavier line with a lighter jighead to keep the bait in the strike zone as long as possible. 

“You want the bait to fall as slow as possible,” sai out of Slidell, who recommends moving up to 17-pound test line and downsizing to either a ¼- or 5/16-ounce jighead. “That time of year, especially when they’re up on the flats, you’re not fishing in water that deep. So you want that bait to fall as slow as possible to keep it in the strike zone because a lot of those fish will be suspended in the water column trying to warm up. 

“So the slower it falls, the longer you’re keeping it in the strike zone. If you’re using a ⅜- or ½-ounce jighead, it’s just going to slam right past them into the bottom.”

But don’t think Robert is just slow-rolling his artificial lure on the flats. Quite the opposite — he’s jigging it pretty aggressively.

“When they get up on that flat, they’re in feeding mode then,” he said. “I’m actually popping it pretty good, making that cast and letting if fall slow. If you don’t get a bite there, I’ll whip it pretty good to try to get it off the bottom and bring it up as high as I can in the water column, and then let it fall down slow again. 

“That’s when you’ll feel that tick, or the line will go straight or tight on the fall.”

Robert said spots like the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet or the rocks by Irish Bayou in Lake Pontchartrain are great to target specks on the flats.

“From the MRGO rocks to about 10 yards out, the water will be anywhere from 3 to 6 feet deep and then it will drop off the ledge,” he said. “The MRGO is always good that time of year because you have a shallow flat extending out 10 or 12 yards, but when it gets cold those fish have access to 30 feet of water. 

“So they can go down in those deep holes when it gets cold, and when the temperatures warm up they’ll rise up off the bottom and get back on the flat.”

Last year’s opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway introduced a huge population of white shad into the system, and Robert said mimicking that with Matrix Shad artificial lures should remain effective for trout in the area.

“Trout we’ve been cleaning have had white shad in their belly, so we’ve been going with either the Matrix Shad in ultraviolet or magneto — something clear that mimics the white shrimp that are still hanging around, or the shad or pogies that are in the area,” he said. 

Capt. Kris Robert wih One Last Cast Charters can be reached at 228-284-9502 for more information.