Speckled Trout

Also called spotted sea trout, or “specks,” speckled trout are a highly sought-after gamefish that is abundant in the coastal waters of the southeastern U.S.
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Where and When?

Speckled trout are numerous along the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, and Virginia. They can also be found in the lower and middle regions of the Chesapeake Bay. In these coastal waters, the trout are often found over submerged grass or other vegetation, which is the preferred habitat of the baitfish and shrimp that make up a large portion of their diet. But speckled trout are also often found around docks and bridges, in inlets and far up coastal rivers, and can be caught right off the beach. Summer is when most people fish for speckled trout, but the largest ones are usually caught in the spring.

About Speckled Trout

Speckled trout, found along the southern coast of the U.S. from the Chesapeake Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, are one of the top ten most popular fish species in the U.S. among recreational anglers. According to NOAA, along the coasts of North Carolina and Virginia, more than half a million speckled trout were caught by recreational fishermen each year between 2005 and 2008. These fish have long, silvery bodies and pointed snouts, with distinctive black spots along their upper body that extend into the caudal and dorsal fins. They also have two sharp fangs in their upper jaw, so do not try to grab a speckled trout by its mouth as you would a bass! Despite the name, the spotted seatrout is not a trout at all, but a member of the drum family. These fish run approximately 20 to 37 inches in length and a big one can weigh up to 17 pounds. They are excellent table fare.

How to Catch?

Look for most schools of speckled trout in five to 20 feet of water, but don’t overlook shallower water, as larger fish often seek out the shallows under docks or along oyster bars. Most fishermen catch speckled trout by casting lures and live bait while drifting over grass flats. Bait anglers often drift live shrimp or small baitfish along the bottom, or use a float to drift the offering over grass beds to entice specks. Artificial lures such as soft-bodied jigs, top-water poppers and spoons can be effective. A well-proven technique for catching speckled trout is a popping cork rig. Use a floating popper that makes a loud noise when twitched, and dangle a shrimp, minnow, or even an artificial lure two or three feet under it. The noise of the popper gets the fish’s attention, enticing it to grab the bait underneath.