While the COVID-19 virus has much of the world living under stay-at-home orders, the speckled trout are not staying home. In fact, our unusually warm March kicked them into motion and they are moving down the estuary earlier than normal.
I have measured 80o surface water temperature already this year, which is well within the spawning temperature of speckled trout. Trout are forced to move into water with salinity greater than 15 ppt during their spawning period, and the upper estuary they are leaving has less than 2 ppt of salinity, so they are not in the correct estuary zone for spawning.
Fortunately, it’s not just water temperature that controls their spawning function, but also the hours of sunlight. It might be 10o warmer than normal, but the hours of sunlight have not changed, so I don’t expect the trout to start spawning soon. In fact, I have been watching my harvested females and their egg sacks have been nonexistent or very small.
Where to fish
Speckled trout are being caught right now across a wide area from the upper estuary to the edge of the sounds. This makes finding them a bit more difficult, but just use the “scattered” excuse if anyone asks.
To find schools of 12” to 14” trout, I am targeting cuts and bayous with obvious bait and 12” or greater water clarity. To catch trout in the 2-3-pound range, I am still targeting shallow upper estuary lakes with grass, or the magnificent MRGO.
The larger trout are still very hungry for topwater baits during early morning hours in shallow water and along rock shorelines. They are also hitting jerkbaits aggressively throughout the day, especially when thrown against the rock shorelines of the MRGO. There is still time to rack up bragging rights and upsize your trout by throwing a Paul Brown Fatboy along the MRGO rocks where the rocks enter Breton Sound!
Our guiding principle for trout success in the next few weeks of this transition is to locate concentrations of bait. The brown shrimp are still small but shoals of 12”-14” trout are feeding on them anyway. Large schools of fin fish like finger mullet, bay anchovy, and menhaden are plentiful in the brackish zone (10-15 ppt) and that’s where I look for the larger speckled trout using lures that mimic the bait.