February 4, 2024

Where Speckled Trout Feed During Winter In Louisiana

Where speckled trout feed during winter is a question that many inshore anglers ask once the cold sets in.

That's usually because the fall fishing spots that produced so well are no longer producing.

It's obvious that something changed, but what?

In this guide you and I will take a closer look at the winter fishing pattern and reveal where you need to begin casting a line in order to catch speckled trout, right here on Louisiana's coast.

Taking A Closer Look At Louisiana's Speckled Trout Winter Pattern

We begin by asking the question, where are speckled trout feeding once it gets cold?

Well, the short answer is that speckled trout will leave the "highways" white shrimp no longer migrate through, and begin pursuing demersal finfish near available cover, such as rock piles and oyster reefs.

Maybe that leaves you scratching your head, so let's unpack it into a longer, more thoughtful answer that will ultimately serve your winter fishing trips much better.

We will get started by recapping the primary forage speckled trout were chasing before winter kicked in.

Primary Forage During The Fall Pattern

During fall, it was pretty easy to locate where speckled trout would feed.

That is, of course, if you understood the bigger picture of what trout were feeding on the most, or their primary forage.

During the fall, that primary forage is white shrimp.

white shrimp

Why Are White Shrimp The Primary Forage During Fall?

White shrimp become the primary forage for speckled trout during fall because they are on their way out to spawn in the Gulf of Mexico.

It's a long journey since most of them are starting it way inside the marsh, where they grew up.

This journey begins the same time speckled trout are finishing their own spawn, returning from saltier waters where they were found during the summer pattern.

Shrimp begin their migration out, as speckled trout migrate in.
Shrimp eventually school up, concentrating speckled trout.

As they move along, they eventually run into each other, growing into big schools that speckled trout take advantage of.

This pattern is a solid one, leading to great action that leads to non-stop action like you see in this YouTube video, where I caught an "old school" limit of 25 speckled trout at one spot.

These fish were caught in a tidal street, very similar to what's described in this article.

limit of 25 speckled trout devin

Catching a limit of speckled trout during fall is easy!

The Easy Fishing of Fall Eventually Ends When The White Shrimp Pattern Is Gone

But the easy fall pattern doesn't last forever.

Eventually the white shrimp migration will be over and where speckled trout feed during winter will be different than where they fed during fall.

Important Note About White Shrimp & Winter

We anglers have a tendency to think in terms of extremes, and rarely anything between.

For example, it's known that during summer speckled trout will migrate outside the marsh to spawn.

But this doesn't mean every single speckled trout is outside the marsh and that it's impossible to catch just one inside.

That's an example of thinking in terms of extremes and it can hurt our ability to see the marsh for what it is.

Fact of the matter is this: even when the run of white shrimp is over there are still white shrimp inside the marsh. 

The shrimp that stay inside the marsh tend to be juveniles, or just some poor guy who missed the bus. 

The difference is that there aren't that many of them and they're not actively leaving the marsh in large groups traveling along the tide.

For example, I was fishing in Venice during January when I caught a speckled trout that coughed up a white shrimp.

It was pretty deep and the water temperature was 51 degrees. Nor did I see any shrimp popping at the surface like we do during fall.

I think that shrimp was just living there, on the bottom, when it was unlucky enough to be eaten by a speckled trout.

Anyway, moving on.

Where Speckled Trout Feed During Winter Changes With The Primary Forage

When the fall run of white shrimp is over, speckled trout will need to find other food, and that other food doesn't behave the same way as migrating white shrimp.

Because of this, where speckled trout feed during winter will be different due to where this food lives.

But what kind of food is this? Demersal finfish! 

  • Knowledge Bomb

Maybe you're wondering, "What the hell is a demersal finfish?" 

It's a kind of fish that lives and feeds on or near the bottom of the water.

What are some examples of demersal finfish?

Despite the ten-dollar word used to describe them, you're most likely already familiar with these kinds of bait that speckled trout love to chow on:

cocahoe minnow

We all know and love the cocahoe minnow. So do hungry winter speckled trout.

  • Knowledge Bomb

What about mullet and pogies?

They're gone, too! They left the marsh for their own spawn. 

Mullet spawn from October into January, while pogies spawn from October to March.

However, just like white shrimp, this doesn't mean the marsh is totally devoid of them.

Where are demersal finfish located on Louisiana's coast?

These fish are small and easily eaten by speckled trout, so they need cover to hide in.

But having protection isn't enough! 

They also need to have food, and the following locations consistently provide both:

My favorite places where speckled trout feed during winter has to be oyster reefs then rock piles, just because that's where I've caught most of them.

But I also like bends in bayous, where water is deeper.

Another great spot to look is a dead end canal.

Where are demersal finfish NOT located?

For the sake of learning, it's important to point out where these fish are definitely not located.

A great example would be wide, open water with a flat and featureless muddy bottom.

If there was ever an example of an underwater desert, that's it!

Where Speckled Trout Feed During Winter venice dad cold

Once you change where you fish, it's easy to adapt to the winter fishing pattern.

That Gets You Started On Where Speckled Trout Feed During Winter

Now you have a good idea as where to begin fishing for winter specks. 

They've left the tidal highways of fall and moved to the rock piles and oyster reefs of winter.

That's enough to get you started, but there is a lot more about the winter fishing pattern that lies outside the scope of this guide.

To learn it all, I strongly suggest enrolling in my course Winter Fish Location, a seasonal course that details how to tackle Louisiana's winter fishing pattern for speckled trout and redfish.

It's only available to members of LAFB Elite.

Where Speckled Trout Feed During Winter dockshot 15 cleaning table devin

Let me show you how to find and catch limits of winter speckled trout from scratch!

Over To You

Do you have any questions? Maybe something to add or just a relatable fishing experience? If so, then please chime in below in the comments section.

I enjoy seeing people's feedback on my website!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and that the knowledge in it helps you find where speckled trout feed during winter.

Tight lines, and thanks for reading!

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.

You may also like:

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    End The Frustration, Start Getting Results!

    see what these members of my paid courses have to say...

    I moved here from Wisconsin and have friends that fish inshore very well.

    After completing Inshore Fishing 101 I have seen a lot of things that you laid out to try and do that gives them success, but also there were things in here that could even help them.

    The insight alone from MODIS and how to use Google Earth Desktop and the NOAA stations changed the game of how I approach my fishing trips.

    I found that the way Captain Devin plans his fishing trips to be much more useful or at least much less time consuming than just running around until I got lucky.

    Zachary CripeNew To Inshore Fishing

    I'm a recent transplant from north Louisiana, and most of inshore fishing is brand new to me. I bought a boat last year and made a vow to learn as much as I can about the marsh, and feel like I've done just that!

    I've bass fished a good bit so I have some basic knowledge and have been able to catch fish every time I've gone, just not numbers. I feel that this is taking me to the next level.

    Time to catch a limit!

    Steven HintonConstruction