“Both topwater lures and twitch baits are both deadly speckled trout lures”
The waters of the Mobile Bay system have been my home fishing ground for a long time, and of all the many varieties of fishing I’ve done there. My favorite brand of fishing for both me and my clients is the pursuit of really big speckled trout. Big trophy specks are not easy to find, and they are not easy to fool into biting. These big old gator trout didn’t get big by being dumb. But I’ve found a couple of fishing lures that pay off for me and my clients when it comes to catching the biggest speckled trout. Both topwater lures and twitch baits are both deadly speckled trout lures, and they are a whole lot of fun to use.
Topwater Lures- Excitement Galore
Catching big speckled trout on topwater lures is not for the faint of heart. When a big speckled trout takes a topwater lure, there’s usually no doubt about it.
I believe that topwater lures can catch big speckled trout twelve months of the year around Mobile Bay. However, my all-time favorite months for catching big speckled trout on topwater lures are May, June, August, and November. I want fairly clear water with good salinity. The salinity will often dictate the areas I fish for big speckled trout more than the water clarity during my favorite months.
The weather pattern for fishing topwater lures for big specks can range from bluebird skies to drizzling rain and everything in between. In May and November, the bigger fish are often fairly aggressive and will strike in all weather conditions.
I have four preferred topwater lures: the Rapala Skitterwalk, the Bomber Badonkadonk High Pitch, the Heddon Super Spook, and Super Spook Jr and the Mirrolure Topdawg. I really like topwater lures with pink back and belly with silver sides. A bone back and belly with silver sides is good, too. Mullet patterns with a blue back, white belly and silver sides can be very good for big trout. The often overlooked yellow head with a solid black body can produce big trout. With all of that being said, if you held me at gunpoint and forced me to narrow that choice down, then the bone and silver Super Spook Jr. will provide the most action and will certainly catch big trout.
I think the most important thing you can do to catch larger speckled trout on any topwater lure is being able to cast as far as you can possibly and cast and cover as much water as possible.
I have two different cadences, worked at variable speeds, for working topwater speckled trout lures. The first is a “walk the dog” method. You want the head of the lure to move from left to right on each twitch. This causes the lure to look like it’s zigging and zagging. My favorite cadence is a twitch, twitch, twitch, twitch- pause, and then twitch, twitch, twitch, twitch -pause. The strike can come at any time in the cadence, but the big speckled trout often blow up on the lure when it is being paused. The second cadence I use is a constant twitch, twitch, twitch with no pause. If the water is really hot, then I work the bait steadily and fairly quickly. The colder the water, often the slower the cadence with a pause is ideal.
Twitch Bait- Sub-surface and Deadly on Big Speckled Trout
There is a wide range of twitch bait lures for big speckled trout, and both hard-body and soft-plastic twitch baits have proven to be quite effective for big gator trout. All twitch baits are sub-surface, sinking lures, and it is up to the angler to provide the motion and movement which fools the big trout.
I really like twitch baits in the fall, winter, and spring, but winter can be the absolute best. I have found that twitch baits can often be most effective during times when the fish are not heavily feeding. Twitch baits are often used in a more finesse situation. In winter, a twitch bait can often be the best lure to use on the bluebird days after a cold front. Lightly stained to clear water seems to be the best for twitch baits.
I think twitch baits are effective on big speckled trout because most of the time, a larger speckled trout is on the hunt for an easy meal and is not looking to chase down a fast-swimming, healthy baitfish. The twitch bait represents a range of baitfish from the slightly wounded to an actually dying baitfish. Some twitch baits suspend and give the big speckled trout an opportunity to attack a nearly stationary bait which looks like an easy meal.
The cadence of the twitch bait retrieve plays a huge role in catching big speckled trout. I like a “twitch, twitch- long pause, twitch, twitch- long pause” cadence. Another very effective winter cadence is a very slow wind of the reel with a short and sharp twitch of the rod every four to six seconds. This cadence is often best when the fish are in a more suspended state and not reacting to long pauses. When trying to figure out the best cadence for a particular day, it is very important to be able to make long casts and stick with a particular cadence for five casts. Then switch through all of your cadences for five casts each before considering changing lure styles, colors or patterns.
I think twitch baits are most effective in slightly stained to really clear water, and I keep colors fairly simple while searching for the bait style and cadence of retrieve. I group my color choices into two groups: natural and bright. Natural colors and patterns would be green, black, brown, and purple. Bright colors will be some variety of pink, chartreuse, orange and yellow. Some twitch baits give anglers the option to mix and match colors which can often lead to big bites from big speckled trout.
And From a Twitch Bait Designer
Captain Joey Landreneau targets big speckled trout in his home waters of northwest Florida, and he has had the problems with traditional hard plastic twitch baits that most anglers face. To meet the feeding habits of big speckled trout in classic Gulf Coast fishing conditions, the SLICK Lure, a soft-plastic twitch bait was designed.
“A distinct pattern developed where baitfish holding over hard bottom produced oversized speckled trout. However, typical slow-sinking jerk baits with hanging treble hooks would hook the bottom. If anglers fished the treble-hook jerk baits too fast, big speckled trout would not strike. If the angler fished the treble-hook lures too slow, the lure would hook the bottom,” Landreneau said. “The SLICK Lure was developed to successfully fish bottom habitat with a large profile lure with a slow sink rate. It is very productive in warm water conditions in the coastal estuaries in the central and western Gulf, especially in shallow flats near Dauphin Island, Cat Island, and the Chandeleur Islands.”
How to Fish the SLICK Lure Twitch Bait
According to Landreneau the SLICK Lure is designed to be rigged with an extra-wide gap (EWG) hook, preferably Owner Beast 4/0 hook, either unweighted or weighted depending on the desired sink rate and water depth. So rigged the speckled trout lure has a natural erratic jerky motion with the slightest twitch of the rod tip.
“Remember, no retrieve cadence is a given, so observant anglers should allow the fish to dictate the cadence. Always be in touch with the lure to determine when the strike occurs, and then repeat the successful cadence. An important tip- allow the fish to hold the lure for a second on the strike and then set the hook with a sweeping side-angle hook set,” Landreneau said.
When anglers fishing for big speckled trout are faced with floating grass and other cast-ruining conditions, the SLICK Lure can be easily rigged weedless to help limit casts wasted because of grass grabbing the lure.
“The SLICK Lure can be fished weedless by ‘skinning’ the hook barb in the back of the lure when floating grass eliminates the use of treble-hook lures. My home waters from late April through October are filled with floating grass, so it’s impossible to use treble hook lures,” Landreneau pointed out. “It really shines at these times as it allows the angler to successfully pursue big speckled trout on the grass flats and hard bottom shorelines. Skinning the hook when rigged with the weighted hook to fish deeper hard bottom ledges and shell bottom greatly reduces bottom-hooking structure.”
Important Contact Information:
Captain Patric Garmeson
1503 NW 14th Ave.
Gainesville, FL 32605