Several years ago, I introduced the F.L.E.X. Fishing system, a dedicated plan for catching big fish of any species including specks.
F.L.E.X. stands for Focus-Learn-Eliminate-Experience and it has revolutionized my personal fishing.
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 ever mentioned.
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 specks 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 ribbbonfish 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. Near-shore 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 to seawater in salinity over more brackish water.
A study in Barataria Bay in Louisiana concluded larger specks 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.
Sagittae are the sound receptors in fish, 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 bigger, wary trout.
Since trout are sensitive both to 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. Making the right connection when a big trout takes a lure is important because 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 gars during the winter in deep, isolated canals. Gars 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 gar’s scraps? Are they simply sharing a similar habitat when their metabolism is low and the gar won’t eat them? Be mindful of gars in the backwaters during winter months.
Researchers in Louisiana have found that manmade reefs attract trout because 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 nearby.
It is a proven fact that a trout’s metabolism slows greatly in winter as its growth 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 specks almost never school. A study conducted by researcher D.C. Tabb found that nearly all trout in excess of six years of age are large, semi-solitary females. These are the giants we dream of.
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 probably score on their personal fish of a lifetime.
Chester Moore, Jr.