There’s a chill in the air, water temps have dropped, and you’ll need to bundle up to go Chesapeake Bay fishing? That doesn’t mean warm-loving species like speckled sea trout have to come off the target list. In fact, fishing for specks in chilly weather can be quite productive. Take these five tips into consideration the next time you start piling on the layers and want to take home a cooler full of fish.

cold weather fishing
Don't let a chill in the air stop you from fishing - it's about to get good!
  1. Seek out waters areas where the temps are slightly elevated. One prime example: Following a high tide early in the day, sun-warmed waters coming off of a flat late in the day can draw in trout like a magnet. Areas where these flats drain out through channels in the marsh are a top prospect.
  2. Look for shallows with weedbeds, because they can also absorb heat on sunny days and can be noticeably warmer than the surrounding waters.
  3. Midday in deeper areas, work lower in the water column. After significant cool-downs the specks will often shuffle off to deeper areas and the topwater bite or sub-surface bite can be completely shut down. Bouncing jigs along bottom, however, will often produce.
  4. Slow down your retrieve. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should work your lures any less vigorously — specks often continue to respond to very erratic retrieves when the water temperatures drop. However, how quickly you move that lure over the distance of a cast does make a big difference. The fish don’t necessarily want to go off on a wild goose chase that may or may not end up with them burning off more energy than they’ll gain, but would much rather make short, quick attack bursts. So slow down your cranking hand even as you continue imparting plenty of action with the rod tip.
  5. Use larger lures and baits. As water temps fall predators want to minimize their caloric expenditure and maximize their caloric reward. They become less inclined to chase after small prey, and instead focus on larger meals that deliver plenty of protein with one successful snap of the jaws.