Understanding the speckled trout summer pattern is key to catching limits when the conditions get hot and the spawn is in full swing. Here's everything you need to know!
Speckled Trout Summer Pattern
It's summertime! The weather is gorgeous, and you'd like to catch some speckled trout, right?
Maybe you've seen awesome reports inside LAFB Inshore, pictures of people showing off the 2-4 man limits of specks they caught.
Well, they were able to do that because they understood the speckled trout summer pattern, and it's right here you can gain that same understanding to achieve those same results on your own fishing trips.
Let's make this as easy as possible by breaking it down "Barney Style" so nothing is left out.
The Very First Thing You Must Understand About Speckled Trout
Speckled trout are a lot of things, and being creatures of comfort is one of them.
This mean they set patterns, and their behavior becomes predictable.
When there is an external factor affecting a trout, you can count on him to respond a certain way.
You're No Different
People won't be outside during a blizzard, if they can help it. Instead, they will be inside where it is warm and safe.
If it's hot outside, they will do their best to stay cool by drinking cold water and hanging out in the shade.
If they can be inside an air conditioned room, then they will definitely be there.
Have outside work to do? Morning is a great time to do that, and noon is definitely the worst.
Here's the kicker: all of this holds true for speckled trout.
We Both Like Easy Food
Speckled trout are near-apex predators, but that doesn't mean they're going to work any hard than they have to.
Nope, they will obtain their meals with the least amount of effort.
People are no different: they're not going to make eating any harder than what it has to be.
Argue what you will, but fast food chains have made billions using this concept.
Now that we've knocked that out, we can establish a "where" and "when" for the speckled trout summer pattern.
Where should we fish during the speckled trout summer pattern?
Speckled trout are spawning during the summer and, in order to successfully do that, they need to be in water that is a certain salinity (or higher).
Salinity is measured in ppt, or parts per thousand, and speckled trout need salinity of 17ppt or higher to spawn.
To put this into perspective, full strength saltwater is 35ppt.
During the winter, when spawning is not a priority, speckled trout can be found in water that is far fresher, as low as 2ppt.
To put that into perspective, you can barely taste the salt in 2ppt water, if at all.
Where is saltier water?
Towards the outside of the estuary, closer to the Gulf of Mexico.
We definitely do not catch limits of speckled trout on the "inside" where it is less salty (even though we were catching them there in the fall, winter and spring.
But this is only a generality!
Using Hydrocoast maps like the one pictured below helps you find water with the right salinity, so you may concentrate your efforts there.
When is the best time to catch speckled trout during the summer?
Let's recap these two behavioral traits:
- speckled trout will seek comfort
- speckled trout will eat when it's easiest
With this in mind, it's easy to see what causes speckled trout to behave the way they do.
The Early Bird Gets The Worm
According to this article, speckled trout begin spawning en masse in the evening and are usually done by midnight.
Spawning is tough on these fish, causing them to burn a lot of energy.
Because of this, the best time for them to grab a bite to eat are the hours before dawn and shortly thereafter.
When you are fishing early in the morning, you are really catching the tail end of the bite.
The water temperature will rise with the sun and, once it does, you can depend on speckled trout to go deep and rest until it's time to spawn.
Sure, you can still catch them here and there, but the best bet for a fast bite is in the morning.
That's just the nature of the speckled trout summer pattern.
Once 9am rolls around the speckled trout bite is pretty much over, though it is possible to limit out on smaller trout until 11am, maybe noon.
So, if you know a good spot with 11-12" trout, then head straight there. Otherwise it's time to head in or roll to Plan Redfish.
Exceptions To The "9am Rule"
As always, there are exceptions, and the most obvious one is cloud cover.
With enough overcast weather, you can find a really good trout bite, like the one we found late in the day in this fishing trip.
Think About It
The sun can't penetrate the water if clouds are in the way.
Strong overcast weather will keep water temperature from rising and create favorable light conditions for feeding.
I touch on this more in this article about why specks love overcast weather.
The first step to catching any species is understanding their biology.
- What primal urges do they have?
- What's most important to them?
- How do the prevailing conditions affect that?
That's what we covered in this blog post, so now you have a more complete understanding of the speckled trout summer pattern but, if you'd like to learn more about where exactly to find speckled trout (and the various fishing spots of summer time to try first) then I strongly suggest enrolling in Summer Fish Location.
Tight lines, y'all!