The population of speckled trout in the surf along the Gulf and Southeast Atlantic States is, quite frankly, enormous. This somewhat seasonal fishery is sometimes under fished (mostly due to wind conditions in the spring, fall and winter) and not only harbors sizable quantities of fish but many times offers quality trout weighing up to 8 pounds or more. Those who learn to fish the surf for speckled trout will find considerably less fishing pressure compared to bays. Let’s take a look at what anglers should consider about fishing the surf for speckled trout.
The surf is not an easy environment to pattern speckled trout until one knows and understands the structures, currents and the habits of surf-run speckled trout. In inshore fishing for trout, most anglers have learned to target structures such as oyster reefs, drop-offs, sea grass edges and sand-pockets. In the surf, the only structure that exists is the sandbar and the troughs (referred to as guts) between the bars. These sandbars and guts are extremely similar for miles and miles.
The currents caused by wind direction and tide flow differently through the bars and guts as water heights change throughout the day. As the nearshore current runs along the beach, it will occasionally be pinched by a sandbar intersecting the beach. All the water flowing down the gut between the beach and the sandbar has to go somewhere, so it will be pushed over the sandbar and back out. As it flows, it carries with it all the baitfish and forage into the waiting mouths of the predators. Now, these locations shift daily, but in general they can be found every quarter to half mile along the beach. It will take training your eye to find them. As you fish the beach more and more, you’ll begin to recognize them. At first you’ll only notice the very distinct ones. Later you’ll begin to notice the ones that are barely perceptible.
Finding these areas where the current carries baitfish into the second gut and onto the second bar is one of the keys to understanding surf-run trout and catching them.
I spoke with Capt. Joey Barnet of Gnett Fishing.com, and he recommends the following lures for catching surf run speckled trout. Topwater plugs such as the Super Spook Jr. cast well into light on-shore winds, and if nearshore sargassum is abundant, topwaters can be rigged with single live-bait hooks instead of trebles. Slow-sinking baits such as the Mirrolure Mirrodine and Softdine also cast well and remain in the strike zone, allowing trout extra time to see the lure.