Fish are in transition, moving in small groups and frustrating anglers who want schooling action
Poll a thousand Louisiana anglers about their favorite month of the year for speckled trout fishing, and September would barely make the top 12. It is to speckled trout fishing what July is to Burlington Coat Factory.
It’s not that NO speckled trout are caught in September; it’s just that the number is closer to zero than in any other time.
There are a number of reasons, but the biggest is that September is the heart of the speckled trout transition. This month, trout are absolutely everywhere, which would seem like a good problem to have, but it can actually be really bad news for anglers.
Fishermen like the fish to be grouped up in certain areas, in schools that are so insanely large they seem limitless. We like to cast, feel that hard tap, reel in a fish and repeat until our limits are rapidly reaching the temperature of the ice that surrounds them.
We don’t care that there aren’t a handful of speckled trout scattered in the middle of the lake we crossed to get to the honeyhole. Fishermen seek the big schools, not the rugged individuals.
But in September, speckled trout are about as sociable as Antifa members at a Trump rally.
Pods, not schools
They don’t really group up anywhere, preferring to make their way to inland waters in twos and threes. That means, more times than not, September anglers who think they’ve gotten on a hot bite often watch it dissolve to absolutely nothing with only a pittance in the box.
Another problem with September is trout stocks aren’t all that great this time of year. The fish have been pounded on by every swinging Richard with a plug that floats for the last 5 months, and all that pressure has taken its toll.
Certainly, new specks are being recruited into the fishery every day, as youngsters clear the 12-inch minimum, but it takes time to overcome the attrition of the summer. That’s why it always seems a higher percentage of fish caught in September are undersized.
But none of this means September is a month when you should keep the cover on the boat, waiting for the dry skies and crisp air of October.
If you manage your expectations, you can actually have some decent September success. You just have to move like a Jazzercise instructor. When a good bite wains, give it two or three more casts, and that’s it. Don’t wait for the school to turn back on. It probably wasn’t a school to begin with. It was just a handful of punks on a street corner looking for easy marks.
Also, successful anglers fish September like it’s an extension of August rather than the beginning of October. Outside areas that held specks throughout the summer are more likely to be productive than the inside spots that will attract them next month. Think oyster reefs, beaches and wellheads rather than bayous, lakes and grass beds.
The only exception to that rule is if we have a tropical event or a significant southeast wind sometime during the last two weeks of the month. Specks ride that influx of clean, green water like a conveyor belt, and at the other end are white shrimp that spent the past several warm weeks getting long and fat in the nutrient-rich marshes.
High water toward the end of this month can often lead to action that will make you swear September is something other than the 12th best month of the year for speckled trout fishing.