Cold fronts bring many changes, and where speckled trout feed during winter is one of them. See the big picture in this blog post.
We’ve all seen that meme foreshadowing winter’s arrival.
It’s a good laugh for those who know Ned Stark, but even if you haven’t seen Game of Thrones then you probably still get the gist: something very serious is going to happen when it gets cold.
Well, we can’t say that applies to everyone these days, as humans have never before been more insulated, even separated, from the outdoors.
But that cannot be said for inshore anglers.
We’re another breed, and if we want to be successful on our fishing trips we must understand the environment we operate in, to include not just our target species, but also the bait they feed on.
Keep reading, and we’ll uncover where speckled trout feed during winter.
Where Speckled Trout Feed During Winter
So where are speckled trout feeding once it gets cold?
Well, there's a short answer and a longer, more detailed one.
The Short Answer
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.
The Long Answer
Want to get ahead of the pack with a better understanding of what's happening?
Okay then, let's get started by recapping the primary forage speckled trout were chasing before winter kicked in.
Primary Forage During The Fall Pattern
Earlier this year locating where speckled trout would feed was fairly easy.
That is, if you understood the bigger picture of what trout were doing and what they were feeding on, or their forage.
During the fall, that primary forage is white shrimp.
Why White Shrimp?
Because they on their way out to spawn in the Gulf of Mexico.
It's a long journey, because most of them are starting it way inside the marsh, where they grew up.
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 like in the video below.
These fish were caught in a major pass, very similar to what's described in this article.
The Great Action Eventually Ends
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 shrimp inside the marsh.
The shrimp that stay inside the marsh tend to be juveniles, or 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.
Speckled Trout Will Change Their 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 as white shrimp on their way to spawn.
Because of this, where speckled trout feed during winter will be different due to where this food lives.
What kind of food is this?
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.
Examples of Demersal Finfish
Despite the ten-dollar word used to describe them, you're most likely already familiar with these bait species speckled trout love to chow on:
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?
These fish are small and easily eaten, so they need cover to hide in.
But having protection isn't enough!
They also need to have food, and these 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.
Nearby deep water is a plus!
In fact, the video below shows one spot where speckled trout feed during winter: deep water with oysters and aquatic grass.
We knocked 'em dead!
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!
How do we find these locations?
It's a good question, and answering it is outside the scope of this blog post.
Good news! Some of this knowledge has already been covered:
Watch Me Pick Out Spots And Fish Them
The best learning tool I have for inshore anglers are the fishing trips I record in three parts: the planning video, the fishing trip itself then a post-trip review.
In fact, you can watch one for yourself! Just hit the button below.
I hope y'all enjoyed this blog post, and that the knowledge in it helps you catch some fish this winter.
Tight lines, y'all!
Thanks Devin for the good info.
Thank you, Eddie!
Real good information
Thank you, Larry!