Edward Crum | The Speckled Truth
Summertime can be a frustrating time of the year for fishing, but applying some basic tips and strategies will help ensure that your summertime trip yields fish in the box to go along with the sunburns and empty water bottles.
Beat the sun - find the bite! Speckled Trout and Red Fish typically prefer cooler temps, although Reds are less affected than Seatrout with respect to extreme temps. First light is the best time to find waters rippling with fleeing bait fish and hungry predator fish.
Look out for areas that afford Seatrout and Red Fish with comfort and vantage points from which to attack. This strategy applies during just about any season of the year but is particularly important in the summer. Warm summer waters draw in bigger predator fish that feed on Speckled Trout. Barrier islands contain grass beds, deep holes, troughs around flats and reefs that provide exceptional havens for trout to sit, feed, and conceal themselves.
Find the grass - find the fish. There is a reason why grass beds are teeming with life in the summer. Dissolved oxygen is affected by water temperature and salinity. As temps and salinity rise, the amount of oxygen decreases. Grass beds and underwater foliage provide warm and hyper-saline waters with a source of oxygen through photosynthesis. Grass beds hold bait, supply oxygen and provide cover for speckled trout and reds during the summer heat. The result: Grass beds provide anglers with covert opportunity.
What about Reds? One tip on Reds that has proven effective time and time again is look to the shoreline. Reds feed right on the shoreline, chasing bait up close to the water’s edge. Imagine the end of a Hollywood dead-end shootout. With nowhere else to go, the bait fish are caught between the shore and the pursuant Red. Do you feel lucky, punk? If you see mullet and baitfish flipping on the water’s edge, give it a cast or two…. Or three. Ole Clint is likely there and bound to take the bait sooner or later.
Cadence in the heat. When you find fish feeding, try employing quicker twitches and faster retrieves than you might typically use. This does not mean you need to ignore “the pause.” Soft plastics with paddle tails are widely popular baits, but in the summertime don’t neglect straight tail jerk shads. That quick twitch movement can be irresistible to attracting the predatory feeding response of Trout and Reds.
Working on your Night Moves. If you really want to beat the heat when targeting Seatrout and Red fish, then fish under the cover of night. Fishing lights at night is highly effective and one of the easiest ways to find feeding Spotted Seatrout and Red fish. An active light will be easy to spot, as your eyes will be met with eruptions of ambushed baitfish. The Speckled Trout are more tactical and precise while the Reds tend to bull rush a target. In the lights smaller profile baits tend to work better. The silhouette cast by the overhanging lights offer looks more natural with a smaller profile lure.
Leave the ‘kitchen sink’ at home. When it comes to tackle in the summertime, keep it simple. Your streamlined artillery should include soft plastics, jig heads in weights (to give you the ability to work in high winds or deeper water), topwater plugs, and 2-3 inch suspend baits. Let the fish give you the clues you need to decide which type of lures to use. To put it simply: “match the hatch!”
Wade it out. There is no better way to beat the summertime heat then getting in the water to target Specks and Reds. When wading you are less likely to alert surrounding fish of your presence. You can get a better understanding of the seafloor and find changes in the bottom. One of my favorite ways to target trout and reds in the summer is wading the surf early in the morning. You don’t need a boat for this, scout the surf areas for structure and bait and head out in the morning. Typically, I bring neoprene wade boots, wade belt with pliers, a landing net, a stringer or wade basket and small tackle tray with a shoulder strap. Look for broken down piers, bars and troughs and then find where the fish are staging. Surf provides water movement that are pushing baitfish with it. Speckled Trout and Reds will stage around ledges and structure, waiting for opportunity.
Wherever you fish, make sure you have a reason why you think fish will be there. Find baitfish, find activity and find structure (grass, reefs, troughs etc.). Topwater baits for speckled trout are versatile and effective as well.