Saltwater Fishing: Speckled Trout Tactics

24" Speckled Seatrout
24" Speckled Seatrout

     Wintertime in central Florida means many things to saltwater anglers, one of which is large and abundant speckled trout. After their 2 months of protection of harvest by the closing of trout season, they are feeding relentlessly and are ripe for the catching.

     Tackle to be used for these fish is typically light and allows for a lot of play. As for rods, you should use a 7' light to medium action rod paired with a 2500 series reel. For line you should use 10-15lb braid. The braid I have found to work the best is Spider-Wire Invisi-braid. My personal trout setup is a 7' light action Hurricane Redbone paired with a 2500 shimano stradic and it does wonders for these fish.

     When targeting these delicious and beautiful fish, many things come into play, the first of which, being location.



     Fishing, like real estate, is all about location, location, location. You can have the best tackle, the best bait, and the best presentation, but if you are in a bad location you won't catch fish. Speckled trouts favorite habitat is hidden in sea grass waiting to ambush their prey. You should look for sea grass bed with small patches of sand mixed in as well as holes and depressions in the ground. These spots will hold large trout as they set up great ambush points for the trout to feed. Sometimes a good tactic to find trout holes is to drift a flat while making casts and anchor up when you hook a fish.

     Another great spot for trout in the winter are residential docks with underwater lights. These are havens for trout and they simply love to cruise through these green lights at night picking off shrimp that float by. Simply anchor up-current of the lights and pitch baits in and you're sure to catch fish.



     Next, once you have the location down, you need to know what bait to use in what situation. There are two main styles of baits used for trout, live and artificial. When to use one or the other depends on experience and temperature. In temperatures of 60 degrees and below, live shrimp seems to work better than artificials as the trout are less willing to chase down their prey. The shrimp should be hooked through the tail with a #2 circle hook on 3 feet of 20 pound fluorocarbon leader. They can then be casted and slowly retrieved, pausing every so often. Another live bait is pinfish, which work best rigged the same as above only put a cork just far enough up so that the pinfish sits just above the grass and doesn't dig down too far.

     Artificials are more successful in covering a lot of ground and when water temperatures are slightly warmer. The most successful bait would have to be the Gulp products. Any style will work but my favorites are the shrimp and the swimming mullet. These rigged on a 1/4oz jig-head slowly bounced along the bottom help to quickly locate trout. Another lure for trout is any soft dart style lure rigged on a 1/8oz weedless jerk-bait hook. A great trout lure is the MirrOLure MirrODine in a dark green or chartreuse color. Lastly, any shrimp imitation works well as shrimp is one of trouts favorite prey. Some good ones are DOA Shrimp as well as the Gulp Shrimp.


     After the bait and location are locked in, presentation is the next key to success. Your presentation will vary depending on what bait you are using. With live bait, presentation is very easy. Simply hook the shrimp in the tail and cast it toward your target and let it sit while slowly reeling it in. As for artificials the general technique is after you cast, reel at a slow to medium pace while occasionally twitching the tip to make the lure "jump" up or side to side. When you twitch the rod, it is best to stop reeling as this is when the trout will hit. Also, when using these techniques, fish it like you know it will work, because if you don't have confidence, you won't catch fish.

     If you correctly combine these three components, you will catch more trout than you can handle. Keep in mind that trout need to be between 15" and 20" and you can keep four per day with one over twenty inches. However, it is best to throw the ones over 20" back because they are the breeding fish and help make more trout. Anyway, get out there and get on some of these fine eating fish!

     And after you catch your limit of Speckled Trout, make sure you know how to clean and cook them! Visit my hub on how to fillet fish quickly and easily as well as how to prepare them.

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Comments 12 comments

Andy Schoener 6 years ago

Good article! Did you leave out confidence? L+P+C=F

Capt John Baty 6 years ago

Very nice article. The only other thing I would add is big trout love pinfish under a cork.

Good job

reidrichardson profile image

reidrichardson 6 years ago from St. Pete Beach Author

I'll be sure to add both of those things to the Hub. Thanks guys!

GetRwet 6 years ago

Very nice job! Thumbs up.

PI-STIX Custom Rods 6 years ago

Very nice Reid.

Dennis Gibson 6 years ago

Ecellent job! We're going fishing on Tuesday, first time in five months. Thanks for the review

reidrichardson profile image

reidrichardson 6 years ago from St. Pete Beach Author

Good luck Dennis!

Ali G 6 years ago

great stuff!!

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wsmuller 5 years ago

I came across this article because I went fishing today with 2 friends and we caught 75 specs (legal limit in Louisiana).

I've never heard of hooking a shrimp in the tail, we always hook them in the head over here, but I think I might try your method, because I had a few shrimp tails missing after some take-downs.

One thing I'm trying to find out is if speckled trout always or usually attack bait from behind, or if they just bite from whatever angle they can. Any thoughts on this? Also, do they inhale the bait into their mouths then bite, or do they just chomp down like a shark?

reidrichardson profile image

reidrichardson 5 years ago from St. Pete Beach Author

wsmuller, I have found that I have a much greater success rate when I tail hook them and also if you're using live bait the shrimp can stay alive forever with a tail hook while it will die almost immediately with a head hook. I think the trout would attack from below and probably behind the shrimp because the shrimp swims through the water head first leaving its tail exposed and thus cannot escape easily. So my thought its they typically attack from behind if they can.

brian 4 years ago

Do you put the trout on ice immediately after catching them or do you put them in a live well?

reidrichardson profile image

reidrichardson 4 years ago from St. Pete Beach Author

Brian, if you are fishing from a boat and have ice available I would recommend that as it will kill the fish quickly. If you don't have ice, I would say use the livewell or a stringer if one isn't available. I don't the quality of the meat will be affected either way, as long as the fish is alive in the livewell or stringer.

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