Following speckled trout to their annual summer haunts is vital if you want to have success this year, and studying maps to see where those places are is time well spent.

Avid angler Andre Thomas fishes the outer bays on the east side of the Mississippi River this time of year to intercept the trout moving outside. 

Places like Lake of Two Trees and surrounding areas are great places to catch the trout as they migrate outside.

In those areas, Thomas concentrates his efforts in locations with oysters and grass.

Fishing for specks with soft plastics is an easy way to catch numbers of fish, but Thomas said he’s targeting them with a lot more hard plastics this year. 

“This year, I’m going to work on my hard bait technique,” he said. “I’m going to be fishing a lot of grass flats this year, seeing how many fish I can get on topwater and twitch baits.”

There are many oyster-lined areas in the outer bay region, and Thomas said to be prepared to hit a lot of them.

“It’s not consistent, like in the fall, where you can go to the same spot week after week,” he said. “The fish are going to move a lot more.”

One of the reasons the fish are so scattered is because the bait is so spread out, Thomas said.

“It’s not going to be like the fall where (the shrimp) stack up, but the brown shrimp will start to move in,” he said.

Thomas likes throwing the Ghost Walker topwater for calling fish up, and he always has it tied on to a long, 7 ½–foot rod.

“If they hit as soon as the bait hits the water, it picks up more slack,” he said. “When I started topwater fishing, I used to topwater fish for stripers on the West Coast a lot, and I would throw an 8-foot rod because you would inevitably have fish hit the bait in the first couple seconds after it hit the water.” 

Thomas likes to throw topwaters in low-light conditions.

“When the sun’s high, it definitely dwindles,” he said.  “The perfect day would be overcast day with a 5 mph wind. That would be ideal.”

When either the sun gets high in the sky, or the fish just are not committing to the topwaters, Thomas likes jerkbaits such as the RIP Stik by Egret Baits or the Rapala X-Rap.

He likes giving his jerkbaits a lot of action.

“The bait tends to react better than it does with a single twitch,” he said. “I’ve been making myself go to more twitches instead of less.”