August 27, 2018

The Best Dock Light Lures For Speckled Trout

People trying their hand at night fishing quickly discover that the best dock light lures for speckled trout are not the same ones they normally throw during the day. 

Or, worse yet, they were actually on the fish but failed to get any bites because they were using the wrong lure. That's the absolute worst case scenario for night fishing, because any effort made won't amount to anything if the fish won't bite in the first place.

To fully unravel this we must first ask the question, "Why are they even fishing at night to begin with?"

Why You Should Try Fishing Dock Lights At Night For Speckled Trout

You should go night fishing for specks for the best reason in the world: because it's a lot of fun! And that's it, you don't really need any other reason. But there are still a few others, in case you were wondering:

  • a great way to beat the summer heat
  • something to do when you get off work
  • a great time to go when you can't during the day
  • finding fish becomes a lot easier

Summer time is the best time to fish dock lights for speckled trout. If you've read my guide to the summer trout pattern, then you know that during summer the heat can cause speckled trout to feed during short windows in the morning.

But what I usually leave out is that what you're really doing on a conventional day-trip is catching the tail end of the night time bite.

So why not just go at night?

Plus, figuring out where to go isn't exactly rocket science. Do you see a light shining in or out of the water? Okay, well that's worth investigating! Not hard.

But, fishing dock lights is a different animal that leaves inshore anglers frustrated, especially when they see speckled trout feeding but can't get them to bite!

speckled trout under dock lights

It's enough to make a grown man cry when you can see the fish feeding but they don't bite the lures you're throwing!

Why aren't the trout biting under dock lights?

It has a lot to do with the kind of bait they're feeding on.

That bait is usually small bay anchovies, or glass minnows, attracted to dock lights in the same way bugs are attracted to your porch light.

bay chovies

Speckled trout are on those dock lights to eat the bay 'chovies attracted to them.

Not croakers. Not mullet. Not pogies. Not cocahoes.

This doesn't mean they won't eat those things, it just means they're looking, towards the water's surface, for bay chovies.

But I have another theory...

It's possible that the ambience of the dock light — or just the way it shines into the water — causes conventional lures to appear differently to speckled trout.

I'm not sure. These fish have certainly left me scratching my head more than once and it's possible that I'm wrong. However, I'm just thinking of how differently things look underwater (albeit during daylight) when it comes to sunny vs overcast weather like what's detailed in this blog post.

Either way, it's a classic case of "match the hatch": if you were to throw a relatively large 3" swim bait (such as a Matrix Shad), then the fish aren't going to go for it as readily as they would something that looks like what they are trying to eat.

So, the key is to throw a lure that looks and presents itself like a tiny bay 'chovy. It must be small to match the lure profile, and be light to stay high in the water column.

Lure Recommendations For Dock Light Speckled Trout

While there's a wide selection out there, I think the Matrix Mini is a perfect fit!

Matrix Shad vs Matrix Mini

Matrix Shad vs Matrix Mini for size comparison

It's a down-sized version of the Matrix Shad and works well for fishing dock lights, because it has a profile and translucent body similar to a bay anchovy.

Plus, the jigheads they sell for the Mini have the right kind of shank so the body doesn't bulge.

Matrix Mini

These jigheads come in 1/32, 1/16 and 1/8 oz, all weights much smaller than what we typically use for speckled trout when fishing conventionally during daylight.

Matrix Mini Alternatives

While the Matrix Shad brand is far more widely available than what it once was — in the event you do not have Matrix Minis at your local store — then you'll do just fine to use tiny baits made for crappie fishing (or "sacalait", as we call them here in Louisiana).

Good examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Bobby Garland
  • Crappie Magnet
  • Crappie Psychic

If there's any others you enjoy, then please list them below in the comments section!

Lures I Don't Recommend For Dock Light Speckled Trout

I've tried using molded bodies and they just fall apart.

As soon as they do you're stuck with tying on a new one, since they're one piece, and not a system like the Matrix Mini and jighead.

Lagniappe Advice For Catching Speckled Trout Under Dock Lights

While writing this guide I thought of some lagniappe — or a little extra — you may enjoy. Of course, if you have any of your own to add, then please do so in the comments section. I always enjoy when people engage my website!

First up is the DOA Shrimp Body Bag. It's worth noting since we see a lot of tiny shrimp around these dock lights as well, and sometimes speckled trout key in on those.

I rig them onto the same jighead as the Matrix Mini, but I wouldn't say that having these (or not) will make or break your fishing trip.

You're Gonna Want A Smaller Rod

Because these lures are so much smaller and weight significantly less than what we normally throw during the day, you are going to want a rod, reel and line to match.

Trying to throw these on a medium power and 3000 size spinning reel just isn't going to work. If you've read my guide to selecting a great fishing rod, then you know that something much smaller and lighter is a better option.

Walk into local stores like Gus' Tackle in Slidell or Chag's Sporting Goods in Metairie and they can get you squared away, or look for something with the following specifications:

  • 100 size spinning reel
  • ~ 6ft long spinning rod
  • light action
  • 6-8lb fluorocarbon fishing line

The Lew's Laser Lite spinning combo is a great option. You can get one on Amazon at this link (which is an affiliate link that supports this blog, at no additional cost to you).

Consider Throwing A Double Rig

In order to make casting easier — especially if you cannot get the wind to your back — consider tying a Double Rig to get a little more oomph into that cast. Find complete instructions in this guide.

dock light lures for speckled trout as a double rig

Where can you go to fish speckled trout at night?

While most dock lights are best accessed with a boat or kayak, there are public fishing piers you can use. There's a good one in Grand Isle and another in Slidell on Lake Pontchartrain. But be warned! Sometimes these close for one reason or another, so it's always good to check.

After that, there's a lot of dock lights in Grand Isle and in the neighborhoods of Slidell. Launching out of Bridgeside Marina in Grand Isle or The Pointe in Slidell are good places to get started.

speckled trout matrix mini

Use what you learn here to have fun catching speckled trout at night!

Unlock Your Next Fishing Trip

There's more to catching speckled trout than just knowing what lures to throw. There's also:

  • finding biting fish to begin with
  • safely navigating there and back
  • discovering new fishing spots
  • avoiding underwater hazards
  • properly judging the conditions
  • correctly fishing the water column
  • and more!

These things and more are what I teach inside my membership LAFB Elite, where courses like Inshore Fishing 101 will lift the veil on the mystery of all the things listed above.

You can spend years learning it the hard way, or I can show it all to you the easy way.

Captain Devin, I would like to thank for all your hard work. Inshore Fishing 101 is about as thorough as you could get.

I would like tell you my situation: I live in north Louisiana by Bossier City. I only get to go to fish the coast once or twice a year and have been putting off signing up for LAFB Elite because of that.

I finally broke down, joined your membership, took Inshore Fishing 101 and am very glad that I did. I will go over it quite often before my next fishing trip.

Once again, thank you for all your hard work!

George Smith

North Louisiana Native

You’re selling yourself short if you don’t join. It’s all the information that most guides know, right at you fingertips.

If you join and use the site for what it’s for, you WILL catch more fish.

Willie Brown

NOLA Native

I've been fishing Lake Pontchartrain since I was a kid and learned a lot inside Inshore Fishing 101.

What stuck out the most to me was presenting baits to fish. I got skunked many times until I learned how to do it the right way. 

I love to laugh, so the humor you put in the videos was awesome. 

It took about two weeks for me to complete Inshore Fishing 101. I've already applied things you taught me and have increased my catch.

Thank you, Captain Devin!

Matthew Tamburello

Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a former fishing guide and lifelong inshore angler. He founded Louisiana Fishing Blog in 2012 to share his ideas as a charter captain and still writes in it today. Since then he's created a fishing university — LAFB Elite — where he teaches inshore anglers how to safely navigate Louisiana's coast and catch more fish.

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  • Very honored to have Captain Rory commenting here! lol

    Yes, I know what rig you’re talking about and that’s a great idea. It may be easier to cast, too.

    That’s the biggest problem I had fishing these lights. I didn’t want to be an a-hole and get “too close” because you never know how people on the dock will react.

    Most of the time they’re cordial, sometimes you can hold a nice conversation, and a few times I’ve had them completely wig out on me, yelling, throwing tackle and turning off the lights.

    If I didn’t own LAFB I’d test the boundaries a little more, but my face and boat are plastered all over the Internet, so I have to mind my P’s an Q’s.

    Even if I don’t do anything “bad”, perception is still reality.

    So I give folks their space and more, but I cannot cast a 1/16oz jighead 50 yards, either.

    I’d throw a 1/2oz drop shot, but it rarely gets any hits because the trout are feeding right at the surface.

    So it’s a tough nut to crack.

    But, if I am able to get close enough I’ll tear ’em up.

  • Another killer bait to use at night is a Sabiki rig. You know the multiple hook rigs used offshore to catch bait. You have a whole bunch of tiny baits and might end up with a handful of trout on one cast.

    For you fly fishing guys and gals, you can have a blast at night. Those flies are the right size to match the bait around the lights.

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