Over the last four years I have embarked on a journey of studying the very largest specimens of our most popular sportfish including flounder, largemouth bass, crappie, redfish and yes, speckled trout.
This allowed me to formulate the F.L.E.X. Fishing® system which helps anglers create a game plan that will allow them to catch the fish of their dreams.
The following are some of the notes from my F.L.E.X. Fishing® speckled trout cheat sheets where I gathered the most detailed information available on giant trout. What you are about to see is truly fascinating and are observations about big trout seldom if rarely mentioned in print.
• As Trout Grow larger they begin to eat larger prey. The largest trout eat the largest prey. Researchers in Texas and Mississippi have found mullet to be the preferred food of the biggest trout. Frequently the mullet is half or two-thirds the size of the trout.
• Big Speckled trout feed heavily on ribbonfish (cutlassfish) when they move into bays from the Gulf. Find ribbonfish scurrying to the surface in panic and you will find BIG trout. At a distance ribbbon fish can be spotted by their silver flashes as they breach.
• Trout Are Not big on migration but there is some movement between the near-shore Gulf and southern tier of bay and channel systems. Researchers at Louisiana State University say the biggest trout are found in the Gulf, particularly during summer and fall. Nearshore oil and gas platforms as well as boat wrecks can house true monsters.
• Salinity Can be a factor in locating trophy trout. Researchers with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission have found that adult trout tend to prefer water that is close in salinity to seawater over more brackish water.
• A Study in Barataria Bay in Louisiana concluded larger trout are most likely to be found over shell or soft (mud) bottom when the water temperature is 75 degrees or higher.
• Trout Have a layer of tissue that allows them to see in low light conditions and be superior night feeders. Fishing the pre-dawn hours and using lures or baits with a luminescent quality or that create a stark silhouette can help you exploit this quality and score on big trout.
• Fish Have sound receptors called sagittae and trout have large ones. They are very keen to sounds made by humans and other fish. Throwing lures delicately and working lures and popping corks in a fashion mimicking natural sounds can go a long way to helping anglers catch more big, wary trout.
• Since Trout are sensitive to both sound and visual cues, the ability to make long, delicate casts is absolutely crucial in the pursuit of big trout.
• Trout Have Clear, color vision and are super line-shy in clear water. The use of fluorocarbon can help eliminate loss of potential big trout catches.
• Trout Have Both a keen sense of smell and taste which work together simultaneously. Being able to make the right connection when a big trout takes a lure is important, as the big fish can be sensitive to non-organic material like plastic.
• Numerous Anglers have observed a symbiotic type relationship between big trout and alligator garfish during the winter in deep, isolated canals. Gar and trout are seen right next to each other seemingly hanging together like a shark and remora. Could it be the trout are eating the gars scraps? Are they simply sharing a similar habitat when their metabolism is low (and the gar wont eat them)? Be mindful of gar in the backwaters during winter months.
• Researchers in Louisiana have found that manmade reefs attract trout because of the fact they concentrate bait fish and help them conserve energy by not having to move much to feed. All big fish prefer not to move more than they have to.
• Male Trout make a "croaking" noise. If you catch a bunch of males in an area return there in the evening and prepare to fish late. Males will gather in a spawning aggregation and croak en masse to attract females. This is a highly overlooked time to find big trout at their peak weight.
• Big Trout often suck topwaters under the surface instead of "blowing up" on it. If this happens to you, wait a second before setting the hook to give the trout a chance to take it in.
• Of the 477 spotted seatrout tagged in a migration study in Alabama, 58 returns were received, and 53 percent exhibited no movement. If you missed a big sow in a particular spot , chances are she is still very nearby.
• A Trouts metabolism slows greatly in winter and this is a proven fact as their growth rates rate slows to a crawl. This is even more pronounced in big trout which are by their nature slower moving and more selective.
• The biggest Trout almost never school. A study conducted by researcher D.C. Tabb found that trout in excess of six years of age are nearly all large semi-solitary females. These are the giants we dream of.
Get Chester Moores F.L.E.X. Fishing Manual FREE at www.godsoutdoors.com COVER ILLUSTRATION: CHESTER MOORE
Big trout are truly elusive, strange fish that do not fit into a particular mold. They are much like giant largemouth bass in that once they reach a certain size their habits change dramatically. The angler who takes the time to study them and realize they will have to trade catching lots of trout for the chance to get one big trout will score on their personally fish of a lifetime.
I am offering my F.L.E.X. Fishing® manual for free as a Christmas gift to Texas Fish & Game readers to celebrate my 20th year in the outdoors communication business. You can download it at www.godsoutdoors.com/F.L.E.X.html.