Fishing, whether recreational, charter, or commercial fishing, has been a way of life for Glen since he was little.
Topwater Lures for Speckled Trout
Fishing with topwater lures is probably the most exciting way to target speckled trout. There are few things more exciting than a big fish blowing up a topwater bait!
There are many different styles of topwater baits. From jerkbaits to buzzbaits all of these will likely catch the odd fish or two. But my favorite topwater lure is a Top Dog by Mirrolure. These baits come in a variety of color/pattern choices, though to be honest I don't think the trout care about the pattern/color so much as the action. Large trout are opportunistic ambush feeders and aren't likely to be looking to closely at what color a lure is!
The Top Dog lure should be used with a 'walk the dog retrieve'. Essentially what you will do is use quick, short sideways twitches with the rod to make the lure zigzag across the top of the water simulating an injured baitfish. Adding a pause (about 2 sec) after every third or fourth twitch can add even more to the illusion of an injured and dying baitfish.
One important rule when fishing a topwater is do not set the hook. Unless you like the idea of multiple treble hooks flying at you at high speed! When a trout decides to eat your topwater bait it will hit it hard and fast, setting the hook in the process. If you feel the need to set the hook, wait until the fish has taken the bait underwater and started to run with it first.
Topwaters are most effective at dawn and dusk on relatively quiet waters. This isn't to say that you won't catch any fish with a topwater at noon but your chances of doing so diminish greatly. One other nice thing about topwater baits is that they generally seem to catch larger fish. So if you only want to catch big fish, consider throwing only topwaters.
Jigs and Soft Body Baits for Speckled Trout
If I had to choose just one lure to fish with in any body of water under any conditions then it would be a jig head with a white curly-tailed grub. This lure simply produces. Everything from flounder and speckled trout inshore to wahoo, dolphin and tuna offshore will eat these jigs. While the red and white pattern is a good general bait for just catching fish, the best part of the jig/soft plastic is that you can try different combos to target specific fish
For speckled trout, I've found that a red or white jig head paired with a 3 or 4 inch curly tailed grub works best. The grub can be white with a pink or red tail, green with a chartreuse tail, or black with a black tail. Local conditions may affect what pattern works best so it is a good idea to have an assortment of jig heads/grub bodies to select from.
When I'm fishing for trout with a jig I like a lot of action. rather than crawl the bait along the bottom like I might for flounder I like to use 2-3 quick jerks on the rod, then let the bait sink for a second. Then jerk 2-3 times again. Vary the speed and pattern of your retrieve until you start getting hits.
A typical jigging pattern for me will be 'jerk jerk pause, jerk jerk jerk mini-pause, jerk jerk long pause, jerk jerk jerk pause' with a medium retrieve. If I don't get any takers I'll try a slow retrieve with a 'jerk-jerk-pause-pause-jerk-jerk' motion or a fast retrieve where I rip the lure through the water so fast that the is little difference between each jerk. Just be careful not to jerk the jig out of the water back at you! It hurts, trust me.
Another way I like to fish the soft body is Carolina rigged on a worm hook and just drift it along the edge of a grass bed or a drop off near the bank. Use a 1/4-1/2 oz egg sinker above a swivel. To the swivel tie a 24 inch leader (I prefer 20lb fluorocarbon myself) with a snelled wormhook. then put your choice of soft body on it (sometimes baitfish patterns work best here) and let the bait slowly drift along on the outer edge of a grass bed or a cut/drop-off near the bank.
Both methods work well and the ability to quickly change patterns until you find what the fish want makes the jig/soft body combos one of the best lures for speckled trout fishing.
Old Reliable- Spoons for Specks!
As stated earlier if I could only have one lure with me it would be the jig and soft body simply due to the sheer number and types of fish you can catch with them. My second choice would be a casting spoon.
The spoon has been used as a lure for over a hundred years and with good reason-it catches fish. Spoons come in many different styles and sizes but for speckled trout it is hard to beat a casting spoon. And in my experience the krodile spoon is the best bet for catching big trout.
There is no real secret trick to catching specks on krocodile spoons. They are nearly idiot proof-just cast them out and retrieve them with a steady retrieve. As you retrieve the lure the spoon wobbles a through the water creating flash and vibrations. This action grabs a predator's attention resulting in reaction strikes.
While there are no magic tricks to using a spoon there are a few things you can do to help improve your success rate. As with nearly any other artificial bait you should vary your retrieve speed until you start getting consistent hits. You should not only vary your speeds between casts but also during the retrieve. Speeding up or slowing down during the retrieve can make even the pickiest of fish eat.
Carry several different size spoons with you and try to match the size spoon you are using to what the speckled trout are eating. If the trout in your area are feeding heavily on glass minnows then a smaller spoon in the 3 inch range will usually catch more fish than a 7 inch one. On the other hand speckled trout may ignore you 3 inch spoon all together if there are plenty of large menhaden or greenies around. In this situation you should use a the larger 7 inch model.
Try casting so that you draw the lure across the nose of the fish perpendicular rather than have the bait come straight at the fish. A baitfish isn't normally going to swim right at a fish that may eat it. So your lure shouldn't swim right at the trout you are trying to catch but rather past the nose of your target.
Are the Gulp Baits Worth the Extra Cost?
A few years ago Berkley unveiled its 'Gulp' line of baits. The baits are touted as 'better than live bait' and while they are definitely effective they are also quite a bit more than traditional soft body baits.
So are they worth the extra cost? As with most things it depends. They are undeniably good at catching fish. For an inexperienced fisherman or someone who doesn't have a lot of time/patience for casting lures they make a nice compromise between the hassle of catching live bait and using lures.
However for an experienced fisherman the benefits are somewhat diminished. I have fished right next to a guy who swears by Berkley Gulp! Alive! baits using traditional jigs and at the end of a couple of hours we had both caught our limit of speckled trout for the day. The difference was that I had lost on grub at a cost of few cents while he had gone through half a pack of gulp baits. The problem was that the baits are so appealing to all species of fish that everything from pinfish to blowfish had eating his baits up.
Personally I don't use Gulps very often. I catch as many fish on traditional lures as I do on gulps for a fraction of the cost. If you are new to fishing for speckled trout or have limited time to fish then the gulp baits may be worth it for you.
Using lures for speckled trout is a great way to catch these tasty fish. And there is always a certain satisfaction when you fool a fish into eating something that isn't real. Hopefully my tips on the best lures for speckled trout will help you to catch more fish next time you are on the water!
Read my other article on speckled trout fishing for more tips on catching these fish.
Please take time to leave a comment with your favorite lure/fishing tip for speckled trout!