Speckled trout follow a predictable annual pattern. In the spring, lengthening days and rising water temperatures trigger something in their pea-sized brains, and the fish get the signal it’s time to move to saltier water to create future generations of speckled trout.
That’s what they do throughout the summer, meeting nightly in deepwater passes to partake in massive fish orgies that produce fertilized eggs that move inland with the tides.
You would think the males, at least, would never grow weary of such a lifestyle, but apparently they do. By the end of summer, speckled trout have had enough of gettin’ busy and are really gettin’ hungry, so the bulk of them begin to move back inshore, not coincidentally at a time when white shrimp are leaving the skinny backwaters they’ve called home since their birth just a few months earlier.
Contained in those thin shrimp shells is all the fuel the exhausted speckled trout need to recover from the rigors of the spawn, and actually add fat layers in preparation for lean times in the winter.
But exactly when that move inland begins depends on the year. Sometimes, the only specks in interior waters in August are the juveniles that weren’t ready to spawn, but then there are years like this one, when those fish are joined by early migrators who get off the spawning grounds and commence to filling their bellies.
Capt. Justin Bowles and I have gotten clues that the fish began the move early this year, so we set out to intercept them at a halfway point, and though it took us a few stops to find them, we ended up putting plenty in the boat.