Officially known as the “spotted sea trout,” the speckled trout has several slang names, including speks, yellow-mouths and paper-mouths. These fish are a mainstay of the bay and inshore waters of south Louisiana.
Speckled trout are fairly common along the entire Gulf coast region. They have a silver color and olive green tints on their back. They get the “speckled” name from black dots extending over their dorsal fin and into their tail. They also have a long body and a large mouth and their lower jaw is in fact larger than their upper jaw.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Speks generally live in shallow waters along sandy and muddy bottoms – three things that are plentiful in south Louisiana. Speckled trout range anywhere from 14-18” long and average 1-3 pounds. However, it is possible for a trout to weigh 9-10 pounds. The Louisiana record speckled trout caught in 1950 weighed in at 12.38 pounds, but some contend an 11.99 pound trout caught in 1999 should hold the record since rumors abound as to where the 1950 fish actually came from.
If you get the opportunity to ever hook speckled trout, you’ll soon learn why they’re so popular. They provide both a snappy fight along the top of the water as well as a great meal at the end of a long day.
Speks generally feed on shrimp and small fish like croakers and pogies, which is why many fishing charters in Louisiana use these and other live baits on their trips. These baits are ideal for beginner fishermen, but they must be properly hooked before casting them into the water.
We invite you to continue reading about how to properly hook 4 types of live bait used for trout fishing in Louisiana. Following these tips, along with instructions from your charter captain, will increase your odds of landing a healthy number of speks on your outing.
4 live bait types commonly used on a Louisiana fishing charter, and how to hook them
Properly hooking your bait is critical to ensuring you do not spook any speks in the water below. A poorly hooked shrimp, crab, mullet or croaker will be readily apparent to the speks, which is why you must hook them in a way that makes them look as natural as possible. In the end, the fish is supposed to think they’re latching onto their dinner, and not a hook.
1. Shrimp – probably the most common and popular live bait for fishing in south Louisiana, and especially good for beginners. Speks love shrimp, so any location where you find lots of them, the greater the chance of you finding speks as well. To hook a shrimp, place your hook just below the head, but be careful to not hook too deep and puncture the shrimp’s brain. Another popular method is to hook the shrimp at the bottom of their tail and run the shaft toward their head. Twitching and retrieving the bait will make the shrimp look real appetizing to any speks below.
2. Mullet – these silvery fish are notable for jumping out of the water and have two dorsal fins and a triangle shaped mouth. They are popular among recreational and commercial/charter anglers in south Louisiana and all along the Gulf coast. Finger mullet are the specific type common to our area. When the finger mullet schools become more plentiful in the summer months, the speks move in for the feast.
Place your hook through the upper lip and the top of the fish’s head. There are other methods like running your hook through the center of the mullet’s body you can use. In the end, you should use whatever method helps the fish live longer and cast better.
3. Crabs – like mullet, there are several varieties of crabs that you may encounter on a Louisiana inshore fishing charter. Soft shell crabs are considered the best for speckled trout fishing. These specific crabs have gotten rid of their hard outer shell and have a new outer layer that is relatively soft for a couple of days. However, it’s more common for anglers to use hard-shell crabs or blue crabs.
To hook this bait, work your hook like a drill bit through the pointy part of the shell found on either side of their body. The crab will generally live for a pretty good while. If the crab is a larger one, it can be cut in half and hooked the same way.
4. Croakers – these small fish (1-3 inches) are another popular option for Louisiana fishing charters. They are typically found in brackish waters along the Atlantic and northern Gulf coasts. Croakers have a silvery/gold hue with lines that look like stripes along their body. They have this name because of a croaking sound they make when caught. They also feed in schools, so if you happen upon one, it’s likely some speks are not far behind.
Croakers can be hooked one of two ways – one, place your hook through their back just above their mid-line, or two, hook them through their lip. If your croaker has red on it and is floating toward the top of the bait well, it isn’t good bait.
Regardless of which type of bait you’re using, one important thing to remember is to make sure it doesn’t look dead. Many fishermen mistakenly believe they should get as many casts as possible from one crab, shrimp, mullet or croaker. However, anything that looks dead to the fish below will spook them all away, and before you know it, the spot will be ruined for the day.
If you’re still a little confused about how to properly hook your bait for speckled trout fishing in south Louisiana, that’s okay. Your charter captain and deck hands will provide hands-on guidance to ensure your bait is properly hooked to mimic ones swimming down below.
And if you’re looking for an experienced captain to take you to the best spots for speckled trout around Theriot, Dularge, Cocodrie and other areas in the bays and bayous of south Louisiana, contact Capt. Rob Dupont to schedule your inshore fishing charter today!