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John's Journal... Entry 81, Day 1

Davis on Speckled Trout

click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: Gary Davis, a charter-boat captain from Foley, Alabama, has fished the back bays of the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area along Alabama's Gulf Coast all his life. He's guided for 30 years and consistently catches more inshore species than most other anglers do because he knows the secrets of successful back-bay fishing. Each day this week we'll look at the tactics Davis uses to catch different species of fish throughout the year in back-bay areas.

Question: What do you do to catch more speckled trout than most other fishermen do?
Answer: I don't spook the trout that I'm trying to catch. Most inshore fishermen know where to find the reefs and wrecks where trout feed. In Alabama, the Marine Resources Division of the Department of Conservation has built five or six artificial reefs in Mobile Bay, just outside of Mobile, Alabama. To make these reefs, the Department put sections of concrete put end to end on the bottom to make a circle bigger than a football field. In the center of the circle, the Department dumped oyster shells, making these artificial reefs the prime habitat of speckled trout, redfish and flounder. You'll also find these well-marked reefs easy to find with plenty of fishermen on them.

click to enlargeEarly in the morning when anglers arrive on the reefs, they will generally motor out to the center of a reef, drop anchor and begin to fish -- all actions that will spook fish. According to Vernon Minton, chief of Marine Resources for the state of Alabama, "Speckled trout are very skittish fish and can't stand any fishing pressure. Specks will leave a reef if they hear motors, anchors and/or a lot of noise. The best way to catch specks is to go as quietly as possible to the location you want to fish." And Minton is right. I've watched this happen all my life.

Question: Where do the fish go when they leave the feeding area?
Answer: They usually go out 150 to 200 yards away from the reef and search for baitfish that have also pulled off the reef.

Question: How do you locate and catch those trout that have pulled off the reef?
Answer: I look for slicks on the water created by speckled trout killing and eating baitfish. The oil in the bodies of baitfish gets released and floats to the surface. The water looks almost like someone has poured oil on it.

click to enlargeQuestion: Once you see a slick, how do you fish for the trout under it?
Answer: I move upwind or upcurrent of the slick and stay well away from it. I position my boat so that the wind or the current will pull me close enough to the slick so that I can cast to it. If I have to reposition my boat while I'm drifting, then I'll use my trolling motor instead of the big motor.

Question: What tackle do you use to catch the trout?
Answer: I fish with Berkley's Trilene XL 8- to 10-pound-test line, a long-shank hook, a Berkley Inshore Power Tube and a small piece of shot lead about 18 inches up the line. I like a clear tube with blue glitter, a clear tube with silver glitter, or a clear tube with red, white and blue glitter. I'll cast the bait upcurrent of the slick and let it drift through the slick. Usually the trout will take it. I also use this same technique with a short-shank hook and a live shrimp. If the trout seem finicky, then I'll put Berkley's Power Nibbles or Power Nuggets inside the Inshore Power Tube so that the glitter comes out of the tube as it drifts through the school of trout.

As I start to catch trout out of the slick, I'll use my trolling motor to keep my boat positioned below the slick and far enough away from the slick so that my customers and I can barely make long casts to it. Using this technique, we can catch fish well away from a reef, while the anglers who fish on the reef spook the trout to us.

click to enlargeQuestion: What else do you do to catch these spooked trout?
Answer: When a fish comes to the boat, we attempt to net it and get it in the ice chest as quickly as possible. I ask my anglers not to yell and holler, and we try to keep the other fishermen from seeing what we're catching. If the anglers on the reef see us catching a lot of fish, they'll crank up their big motors, run right to the slick, drop anchor in the middle of the fish and then begin to wonder why they're not catching fish when they've seen us catching numbers of specks.

Question: Do you use any other techniques?
Answer: If the fish under the slicks refuse to bite, then I often use a popping cork with a Berkley Power Grub or a live grub about 18 to 20 inches under it. You can fish slicks most effectively in March and April when the trout are spawning in the bays. To consistently catch trout, you must use tactics other fishermen aren't using, fish in places where other fishermen don't fish and use baits other anglers don't use.

To learn more about speckled trout fishing, you can contact Gary Davis at 218 West Marigold Avenue, Foley, Al 36535, PH: (334) 943-6298.

TOMORROW: Flounder Fishing




Check back each day this week for more about Gary Davis -- Inshore Fishing Guide ...

Day 1 -Davis on Speckled Trout
Day 2 -Flounder Fishing
Day 3 -Sheepshead
Day 4 -Redfish
Day 5 -More Speckled Trout

John's Journal