The hardest part of any fishing trip is finding fish in the first place. Use this seven-step process to find speckled trout in Louisiana, every time you launch the boat.
It's safe to assume every professional angler out there has his/her own way of locating whatever inshore species completely from scratch, but I am willing to bet they all look something like this seven-step process:
Let's go over these one by one.
You can't find what you want if you don't know what to look for.
It's very important to decide what fish you want to catch (whether it's speckled trout, redfish, flounder, black drum, sheepshead or whatever) and then stick with it.
Focusing on one species is the equivalent of keeping your eye on the ball in a baseball game.
This is key because all the aforementioned species are unique, spawning, feeding and behaving differently.
Because of this, there are different ways to catch each, so it's best to focus on one, and the most popular is speckled trout followed closely by redfish.
A good example of species-specific fish behavior affecting your planning would be that of sexual maturity and legal length in speckled trout versus redfish.
Speckled trout are sexually mature by nine or ten inches in length, so those fish are long gone from the marsh during their summertime spawn.
However, redfish are different in that they do not reach sexual maturity until the upper end of their slot length at 27 inches.
So, redfish under 27 inches in length are in fact juveniles and are found in the marsh year round.
When the going gets tough for speckled trout, "Plan Redfish" is there to save the day.
Seasonal patterns dictate when, where and how you will catch speckled trout.
During the summer fish tend to bite best during the morning when it's still cool, and in the winter they tend to bite later in the day after the sun has had time to warm them up.
Time of year plays a huge role in fish location.
For example, speckled trout are nowhere to be found inland during July, because they're all on the "outside" spawning in saltier waters.
However, the opposite is true in January, when we find them much closer to the dock in less saline waters.
Season also dictates the primary forage fish are feeding on!
Arguably the most important condition to look at, wind strength and direction will determine the following things:
If you've attended Mastering The Tide, then you already know that tide tables are pretty much garbage and what really matters is accounting for all the conditions affecting water levels.
It's a really good seminar, and highly recommended to inshore anglers wanting to find speckled trout in Louisiana.
Anyway, as far as resources go, Windfinder is my favorite app for wind predictions.
It's very important to know not just the tide, but how the wind will affect the tide and where the tide is beginning from on the day of your fishing trip.
Pro Tip: The tide almost never begins where you think or does what it is predicted to do.
The wind and gravitational forces from the sun and moon will work together to create water movement that looks different from what is actually predicted, and those who are good at finding speckled trout in Louisiana are ready to capitalize on this.
Best case scenario: the wind chills out, conditions are stable and the tide does what is predicted.
Worst case scenario: you get a false neap tide, also known as a "liar tide".
Again, Windfinder is preferred for tidal predictions and NOAA's National Data Buoy Center is great for looking up past and current water levels.
In fact, all of my best days of speckled trout fishing have happened in overcast weather.
Windfinder also forecasts this.
I'm including this because it's easy and something I definitely look for when targeting speckled trout, because they are so sensitive to it.
Speckled trout don't like dirty river water, and will move out when it approaches, like what happened during the Bonnet Carré Spillway opening.
Areas completely inundated in river water are immediately omitted from any fishing plans, with redfish sometimes being an exception.
Last but not least, it's good to read the latest fishing reports to get an idea where fish are biting.
However, like anything, there are pros and cons to weigh.
For example, if you are reading lots and lots and lots of fishing reports for one particular area, chances are it's blown out, the fish are pressured (read: not biting anymore) and there's absolutely no point at all in going there.
Yep, usually by the time you hear about it the bite is on it's way out, or just gone.
But, if there are only a couple fishing reports for an area, especially if it's not a "community honey hole", then there's most likely plenty of real estate for a great fishing trip to happen.
Also, it's good to look up local guides and see how they're doing. Facebook is great for this!
These seven steps are what I use on every fishing trip to decide which area is best to go fishing.
Obviously there's more to it and the relevant details can be found in the blog posts linked up throughout this one (you're welcome).
But, that doesn't change the fact that, if you're new to inshore fishing (or don't find biting fish on every trip), the planning process can be a little daunting.
This is why I record planning videos in my Fishing Trip Reviews to show anglers how it is I find and catch fish in every kind of condition there is:
Watch them for free:
These Fishing Trip Reviews also include each and every spot I fish, plus a "Post Trip Review" where I take the day's GPS tracks and upload them to Google Earth to go over everywhere I fished, what happened, and lessons learned from the trip.
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Devin is the founder of Louisiana Fishing Blog and enjoys exploring new fishing spots on Louisiana's coast. He prefers using artificial lures and casting tackle, but won't hesitate to break out a popping cork when the time is right.
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