It's true that this winter's Bomb Cyclone temperature drops caused a speckled trout kill up and down the coast, but that doesn't mean we won't be able to catch specks this spring. In fact, our first fishing reports of specks in the Tangier came in just this week. And while few anglers focus on speckled sea trout early in the spring, truth be told, this is often the best time to catch big gator trout in many southern areas of Chesapeake Country. Yes, the numbers are usually quite low – you may fish all day for just a few hook-ups. But this is often when you get into the monsters. If you want to pursue trophy-sized early spring specks, be sure to use these tactics to boost your chances of hooking into a big boy.
- Try topwater – Very large trout are not at all shy about blasting topwater plugs. Most sharpies will agree that a walk-the-dog style retrieve is best, with lure models like the Super Spook XT and the Bandonk-a-Donk topping the list of old reliables. Bone, white, chartreuse, and white/pink color combinations stand out as winners. And generally speaking bigger lures are better – these monster trout are after a monster meal.
- Look for creek mouths in the marshes – Creeks and cuts that drain the sun-warmed marsh waters are often a foot or two deeper than the surrounding waters, just inside their mouths. These can be extremely small creeks, sometimes just a few feet across. But if they have any sort of significant water flow and a couple of feet of depth, it’s amazing how large a fish you might pull out of there.
- Look for the edges of weedbeds that converge with drop-offs – This is another favored hunting zone of the specks. Especially when the weeds are in just a foot or two of water, but adjacent to a significant drop-off to five or six feet of depth, you’re in a likely area. Cast right along the edges of those weeds on a high or incoming tide, and hold on tight.
BONUS TIP: There's a window of time, usually in early to mid May, when speckled trout are around but the rays haven't arrived yet. During this time-frame it's extremely effective to fish soft or peeler crab baits in the same areas you might try lure fishing for specks. When it comes to crab chunks, they just don't seem to be able to help themselves. Once the rays arrive, however, it's game-over for this type of fishing because you'll spend so much time fighting off the rays you'll hardly have a hope of finding a speck or two. Keep your eyes on the Tangier Sound fishing report, to keep tabs on the current status of this fishery.