Have you ever caught a big trout under the birds?
I mean a really big trout in the 25 inch plus range.
If you have it was probably an anomaly and the fact is you catch very few large trout under the birds at any time of year, especially in the fall.
Big trout don’t like to have to move around too much to feed. They are not nearly as aggressive or forceful as the smaller ones. Even when fishing under the birds, most of the bigger trout are on the bottom.
This is a subject I cover at some level every fall because I get questions from anglers asking where the bigger trout went. They are still here but just not hanging out with the juveniles that are so easy to catch under feeding gulls. It is crucial to find areas with high concentrations of baitfish and low concentrations of fishermen.
One such area along shorelines are stands of roseau cane, which has an intricate rooting system comparable to a miniature version of mangrove. On high tides, cane stands hold lots of baitfish, which hide from predators among the roots. Big trout will feed along the edges of this cane and quite often go untargeted. When seeking big fish in these areas anglers should be mindful of making parallel casts along the shoreline, tight to the shore. On the low tides, especially in the fall, you can see there is some depth under the roots where the bait hides and the trout will sometimes feed right in there. People tend to throw out from the shore and sometimes ignore what’s really important: the shore itself.
In any bay system there can be dozens of shoreline spots like that are ignored by most anglers.
If you simply prefer fishing under the birds, there is a way to catch the larger fish there. You won’t get many 25 inches and over but this strategy is great for those 18-22 inches. Search out the smaller schools of trout that hang closer to the shorelines and slow down. Using a drift stock enables you to drift over these areas and fish a soft plastic slowly along the bottom or throw a popping cork rigged with a Gulp.
This also works good on the main bay with the bigger groups of birds, especially when you have the flock to yourself. Drift slowly through the feeding action or simply around baitfish you have located and fish with lures that stay close to the bottom like a Gulp or soft plastic on a jighead fished on a ¼-ounce jighead or a silver spoon.
A drift sock can be an invaluable tool by enabling you to drift far slower than you would under normal circumstances. They were first used by walleye fishermen up north but are in the boats of many local anglers who know the importance of slowing down to catch big specks.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with chasing birds and catching a bunch of small trout to get to a few keepers. I do it every year and have a good time doing so. However, I get bored with it quick and turn my attention to methods that will get me bigger trout.
Chester Moore, Jr.