Speckled trout are here, there and everywhere

Even in September, Justin Bowles targets speckled trout, but he knows limits are the exception rather than the norm. (Photos by Todd Masson)

If you asked the average angler whether he’d like to fish a region where the fish are absolutely everywhere, he’d enthusiastically nod his head, reach for his pole and ask you to point him in the right direction.

But actually, as with most things in life, the average angler should be careful of what he wishes for. When fish are scattered all over the place, they’re actually much tougher to target and catch, and there are two reasons why.

The first is that we anglers spend most of our outings not looking for fish, but looking for SCHOOLS of fish. We want to make multiple casts to the same structure or feature and have each of those efforts result in a bite. Ninety percent of the water might be empty of our target that day, but when we find the 10% that’s holding a school, we feel we’ve accomplished our goal.

The other reason is that schooled fish tend to be much easier to get to bite. Everything we present to a fish is unnatural, whether it’s a hunk of plastic designed to look like a baitfish or a live shrimp impaled on a hook under a length of monofilament. A fish that’s solo might be suspicious of such an offering, but one that’s surrounded by his buddies has to make a quick decision or risk missing out on an easy meal. In that split second, his yawning belly usually overtakes his cautious brain.

Crowd frenzy

Joel Masson used a Carolina-rigged Matrix Shad to draw a strike from this speckled trout.

Also, once that fish takes the bait and gets hooked, he acts like he just inserted a habanero suppository. He swims rapidly back and forth, and then, as if he acquired superpowers, he leaves the water and flies through the air. That activity excites the rest of the school and gets fish hunting for anything that moves. With so many targets in a frenzy, bites come on every cast until the school is depleted or moves out of the area.

Days are coming when the specks we love to target along our coast will again be schooled up, but none of them are in September. In fact, this month is often thought of among anglers as the toughest of the year.

That’s because fish are scattered everywhere, and that makes them difficult to catch in significant numbers. Some speckled trout are still in outside waters spawning, while others are making the trek back inside to feast on fall white shrimp.

Cast anywhere, and you’re liable to catch one, but you probably won’t catch a hundred. As a result, smart September anglers manage their expectations about how many fish they’ll catch in an outing. Ten per angler is an accomplishment, and most days produce fewer than that.

Be prepared

Additionally, those wise fishermen never hit the water with anything less than fully charged, deep-cycle batteries, since they know they’ll have to spend all day covering water. This isn’t a month to drop anchor.

Productive baits depend on angler confidence levels, but when I’m searching for fish, a TKO Shrimp under a VersaMaxx Knocker is almost always at the end of my line. The combo is especially effective this month since white shrimp are getting to be a size that speckled trout key on.

So, yeah, specks are everywhere this month, but that’ll make us all pine for the days when they’re not.

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About Todd Masson 542 Articles
Todd Masson has covered outdoors in Louisiana for a quarter century, and is host of the Marsh Man Masson channel on YouTube.

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