August 21

What are the Big Three of Inshore Fishing?

These are the three conditions to any successful inshore fishing trip.

What are the Big Three?

When I go fishing for speckled trout and redfish in Louisiana, I am almost always looking for these three things:

  1. Clean Water...
  2. ...that is moving...
  3. ...and has bait swimming in it.

I left out salinity because it isn't a must. It's seasonal for trout and redfish don't mind if it's fresh or salty.

We find speckled trout in near-fresh brackish water right there with largemouth bass, especially during the fall and winter time.

Quick Note Speckled trout move into more saline conditions during their spawn and towards fresher water during the winter.

Clean Water

Fish like clean water for a couple reasons.

First, they can see well in it. Yes, fish have other senses, but they eat better being able to see.

Secondly, clean water is easier on their gills, similar to fresh air being easier on your lungs.

Have you ever been in a lot of smoke? It was probably uncomfortable for your eyes and hard to breathe. Fish feel the same way in dirty water.

Moving Water

Speckled trout and redfish like moving water because it sends bait to predictable spots they can be easily ambushed.

Otherwise they burn energy looking for food.

Because our inshore waters are moved by the tide and wind an angler can almost always find water moving somewhere, with concentrated bait, and fish feeding on that bait.

Presence of Bait

This can be tough to explain, so I'll keep it simple.

Anytime you see something alive that is small enough to fit in the mouth of a speck or red, that counts as bait.

This includes pogies, cocahoes, shrimp, small crabs, etc. The more you see, the better!

The only thing better is seeing fish actively chasing bait. It will be pretty obvious when you see a redfish launch out the water like a missile, trying to eat a mullet.

Are there exceptions?

Yes, but all they do is prove the rule because they are exceptions.

Sometimes fish will endure dirty water because that is where the bait is.

Sometimes fish will be eating up in places you do not readily see bait. That doesn't mean bait is not there, it could be well below the surface.

Is finding the Big Three in one spot a guarantee of good fishing?

It certainly improves your chances, but is not a guarantee of catching. I have been in redfish ponds with plenty of small crab, finger mullet and shrimp.

Lots of shrimp. But no redfish. They just didn't find it yet.

I've had similar experiences with trout.

How does an angler locate the Big Three?

There are many tools an angler can use, so her fishing trip can be as productive as possible.

I also have much knowledge on how to use those tools, and how to interpret what you see on the water.

Consistently locating, recognizing and fishing the Big Three is an essential skill of any inshore angler.

This knowledge is available in Inshore Fishing 101.

Why tell anyone about the Big Three? Why not keep it to yourself?

I know that if more anglers can understand and utilize the Big Three, they will have fun catching fish!

When people have fun, they come back for more.

As they do, they grow as anglers and want to see fish thrive, so they become contributors to conservation.

Inshore Fishing 101 has paid off for many anglers.

I enjoyed the course and learned a lot!

I loved the decision making process about how to find fish and catch them when I got there. I've been fishing my whole life but never took a pragmatic approach to finding the fish until seeing it all put together like Captain Devin did.

Inshore Fishing 101 helped me take all of the pieces I had learned over the years of being in the marsh and put them together to catch fish reliably.

Brian R.

Learned more than I thought

I should be the poster child for Inshore Fishing 101!

I'm from Atlanta and have only been to the marsh 1-2 times before. Those times I caught a little each time. I haven't finished the 101 school yet but my scheduled weekend to go fishing was this past weekend. Me and two friends caught 2 coolers full 2 days and only 1 cooler full the 3rd day .... bad day!

Used 100's of live/dead shrimp. The fish really didn't care. The 1st two days we used a Rucker Rig. We couldn't get them to bite a popping cork. Last day we fished a shallow lake (Hermitage) and killed them using a popping cork.

David Monson

Easy to Learn

I love the ease of use and good explanations with pictures to help explain it all. Now I consistently catch fish when it was a total gamble before.

Chris M.

Enroll in Inshore Fishing 101


live bait, Tidal Info, water conditions, wind conditions

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