This one detail may tell you more about what speckled trout are doing, and how to catch them.
A light breeze hardly blew across the surface of the water, failing to disturb it. Nor could the horizon be discerned. What was water and what was sky? If it weren’t for the rock jetty in front of me it would almost feel as if my boat were floating in an abyss of white and blue. It was one of those special mornings you just have to be there for. If you weren’t there then you missed it forever.
It was so quiet I could hear the occasional drum grunting below me. They’d come and go, the vibrations of their air bladder rattled through the aluminum floor to my feet. At first the grunting was faint, but would grow in intensity as they swam closer, under and eventually past the boat.
It was that quiet. If it were any quieter I’d hear the grinding of Earth rotating on her axis. Even the seagulls were unbelievably keeping their mouth shut, which is a spectacle in and of itself. Maybe they were taking it all in the same way I was.
The time would inevitably come for it all to end, but it came a little sooner in the form of a bay boat with a T-Top. I wasn’t disappointed, there is plenty of water to share. Besides, I like catching fish in front of people.
I was slowly making my way down the rock jetty, casting parallel to it and working a jig back to the boat. Behind me, in the captivity of a makeshift livewell floated a dozen or so speckled trout, waiting to be tagged and released.
The bay boat had as many people stuffed in it as was legally feasible. Its bow pointed towards the rock jetty and came off plane, but rather than idle to its destination the boat stayed at just below planing-speed, giving birth to a huge wake.
Predictably, a Danforth anchor flew off the bow before crashing into the water. I just stayed on my trolling motor and continued to work down the rocky shoreline towards the offending boat.
By now a hundred seagulls had been roused and were cartwheeling across the sky, squawking in that obnoxious half-laugh, half-shriek that makes ears bleed. Great.
Closing in on the bay boat, I made sure to keep a buffer between us, a little more than a casting distance. It’s a courtesy thing and doesn’t really have anything to do with fishing, since they were all casting towards the rock jetty anyways. I cut a wide berth around them, out away from the rocks and planned to return to the shoreline.
I waved. They returned the wave before turning back to back-slapping and merry-making. I kept watching the rocks on the other side of them, seeing where I could squeeze in without getting too close. I also watched them, because I was curious. I don’t like talking when I am fishing. I like fishing. I like paying attention to my surroundings.
It was clear to me they were out here to relax and escape the Nine to Five Hamster Wheel. Fishing is a good way to do that.
Then I saw it. It was right in front of them. A redfish tail the width of a broom gently rose out of the water before going back down. They didn’t notice: a big bull red was tailing on the rocks, well within casting distance of their boat. Darn.
I didn’t care to catch redfish. I wanted to catch speckled trout, but the opportunity to blitz a bull red right in front of them was too tempting. The human reaction would be worth the trouble, as their bro-fest would come to a screaming halt at the sound of drag peeling and the sight of a medium-fast rod doubled over.
I judged the distance one more time. That’s gonna be a tough cast. Then the tail came up again. I could not believe anyone in that boat didn’t see it. They could hit it in the head with a beer can. Should I tell them?
This is golden. Just enjoy it.
And I did.
That was a great day to be on the water. As always, there are lessons learned and points to be considered.
The guys in that bay boat were out to have a good time. Not everyone wants to hit the water and focus on each cast like it’s a competition. I do this and it’s not wrong, that is how I like to fish and improve. Some people just want to relax. I know, I have fishing trips like that, too. However, consider this point:
There is no denying that everyone wants to catch fish, regardless of why they’re out fishing.
I know that sounds obvious, but I can already hear the Negative Nancy’s, “Devin, some people just want to have fun, stop being so serious.”
Yeah, I seriously want you to catch fish. So “yes” I am being serious. Super serious. Serious as a heart attack.
Fact of the matter is that fish will tell on themselves. You just have to be paying attention when they do. It may not be as obvious as a bull red tailing, but more subtle.
This is why I look at fish when I catch them. Tell tale signs may be on their body.
Speckled trout get sores on their belly from resting on the bottom of the water column. If you only catch a couple trout with a popping cork then you may be using the wrong presentation. Look at their bellies. Are they beat up? Then chances are those trout were holding to the bottom and came up to get your bait. If you can get the bait down to them, then you may catch more.
Attention to detail and your surroundings are key.
Devin is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War, entrepreneur and a hardcore inshore angler who enjoys chasing limits of specks and sight fishing redfish.