The few days before the turn of the New Year, Big Lake's Capt. Bruce Baugh was busy with some great speckled trout.

On one of those days, the 58-year-old guide was hosting three wading fishermen on some special flats on Big Lake where they landed a dozen speckled trout ranging between 5 and 8 pounds.

"It was an awesome trip, and we were in a bunch of redfish," Baugh said. "We were throwing pink, broke-back Corkys for these fish in West Cove."

The anglers almost left the area because of the redfish, but decided to stay put because some large speckled trout began showing.

"Peter Landry caught the largest trout, an 8-pounder," said Baugh (337-660-1814). "For a while there, between all the redfish and good trout we were catching, all of us had a fish on. I placed my rod in the rod holder on my belt with the fish still on it so I could get a picture of my three clients fighting fish at the same time.

"I almost lost my rod because there was a real good trout on it, as well. Everybody's rods were bowed up, and the trout was buckling the rod in my belt so hard it was pulling drag."

According to Baugh, wade-fishing season has started in earnest at Big Lake. Big speckled trout can be found in pods on shallow reefs and flats from Turner's Bay southward to West Cove.

"It's my favorite time to wade-fish," he admitted.  "Even though about all the shrimp have exited, these big trout will stay in schools looking for their primary prey, which is the mullet."

He said a lot of anglers miss this opportunity because they think fish won't be on shallow flats this time of year.

"The water temperatures were 48 degrees recently, and many people think the trout will get into deeper holes here," he said. "Many of these bigger trout will not migrate deeper; they'll be ambushing mullet, and you will actually find them shallow in mud flats and shell."
 
And getting close to them by wade-fishing is exactly how Baugh has learned about their behavior.

"They will often just lay in the mud because their bellies are muddy when we catch them," said the guide. "And these big trout will actually try to dislodge your hooks in the mud, on shell and sometimes even on your legs."

Also, Baugh said that there is less fishing pressure on these fish this time of year because either duck season is in progress or the fact that not many anglers will fish in cold, wet weather.

"In some of the nastiest weather on the lake, we have taken big trout up to the 10-pound range," he said. "It can be miserable on the lake, yet it can be great for catching a personal best speckled trout in terms of length and weight."

In general, the wade-fishing action will continue through February, he said.

Baugh uses 20-pound braided line with a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader.

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