Speckled Trout are a predatory fish that aggressively attacks anything it thinks is food. Bait fish such as mud minnows, finger mullet, pin fish, and even menhaden constitute the Specks primary diet. Feeding along shallow grassy flats, over oyster beds, and around the mouth of tidal creeks, shrimp is also high on their menu.
Speckled Trout are a water temperature sensitive species; therefore Specks are generally not far from areas of deeper water. Traveling between these areas as temperatures warm or cool helps the Specks regulate their body metabolism. An angler’s understanding of this behavior helps catch more of these fish.
On hot summer days the old saying that “the early bird gets the worm” is certainly true when it comes to catching large Seatrout. Even before the sun has risen the sound of Specks striking the surface gives their position away along shallow sea grass beds. A live shrimp tipping a jig, a finger mullet free lining toward the grassy edge, or the strip of fresh cut bait fish attached to a popping cork are all effective ways to catch Seatrout. As the heat of the day increases oxygen levels in the shallows may decrease forcing the Spotted Seatrout to seek the comfort of cooler deeper water. Using a standard bottom fishing rig baited with a live shrimp, a popping cork with a pilchard or one of the many jigs and swim baits on the market.
As winter sets in and temperatures drop, the Speckled Trout will migrate into deep water bays, river channels or into the Gulf of Mexico. Schooling together in limited areas, larger Seatrout are often caught near dropoffs and ledges. Plus, if one or two fish are caught, do not be in a hurry to move out of the area, there are probably more. Sliding cork rigs are good for deepwater winter Seatrout when fishing dredged canals, boat basins, or around structures below 10 ft.
Another reason for the Speckled Trout’s popularity is due to their willingness to aggressively attack artificial jigs, soft plastics, spoons, top water and bait fish-like lures. Some anglers even employ the use of a popping cork to bring attention to their lures. Keep in mind however, that during the winter months the Seatrout’s metabolism slow significantly, so the lures should be worked at a slower pace than in summer. As far a table fair I'm a huge fan of trout thrown on the grill or even coated with some panko bread crumb creation.