Heavy speckled trout show up in spring
It's the thump of your heart when you catch that first glimpse of the fish and realize it is too large to grab.
It's why we Texans are considered fanatics by normal anglers.
It's the hunt for large speckled trout.
Here are three of my favorite big trout spots:
Stewts Island (Sabine Lake) - I may never have another episode like one June morning a decade ago. Fishing guide Chuck Uzzle and I slid into the water just after sunrise and began throwing black Top Dogs. You have a feeling it is going to be a good day when you take two steps from the boat, make a cast and are greeted by a 24-inch trout.
That first fish was the smallest of the morning. For the next three hours, we caught and released nine trout longer than 28 inches, but the one that got away still haunts me.
I lost a fish I estimated to be about 33 inches. It was too big to grasp. Mind you, I had already fooled a half-dozen specks busting 8 pounds before that blow, and this magnificent specimen dwarfed them all. I estimated the trophy at 12 pounds.
The conditions that made the dawn so magical were the presence of mullet and an incoming tide. The tide had ushered rafts of hand-sized mullet to the sand flat from the nearby Sabine River, and a harem of large trout had followed.
It was easy pickings for the trout shadowing the school of bait, making it even easier to fool the beasts with dog-walking plugs.
The same tactics and conditions apply today. Black Top Dogs still work, but bone Super Spooks, chrome MirrOlure She Dogs and pearl Corky Fat Boys have become popular.
Frozen Point (East Galveston Bay) - Named for the great freeze of 1900 when cattle literally froze in their tracks along the bay's edge, this terrain of shell and mud on the banks of the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge has long been a big trout magnet. Its proximity to Rollover Pass allows for constant flushing of tides and bait, and the mud bottom acts as an insulator during cold spells, holding warmer water temperatures despite frigid surface readings.
Incoming tides escort mullet from the Gulf of Mexico, and the outgoing current drains the nearby marsh of shad and shrimp.
Topwaters rule during the fall and summer, but Corkies, Catch 5s and Catch 2000s are good choices now. Plum or glow Bass Assassins, Norton Bull Minnows or Texas Trout Killers rigged on a light jig head are solid offerings as well.
Long Reef (East Matagorda Bay) - There are several wadeable reefs in the bay, all holding large trout at certain times of the year; however, Long Reef is the largest of them, running east and west smack dab in the middle of the bay. It is surrounded by 6 feet of water, allowing trout easy access to deeper water when tides or temperatures recede.
The reef shines when mullet are stacked thick on the surface or when the white shrimp crop of autumn burrows itself in the mud to evade predators. Depending on the direction of the wind, I normally park my boat on either the east or west tip. Typically, it takes about three hours to methodically fish the reef, working the south side first, then plugging the north side on my return to the boat.
I wade parallel to the dropoff and work Super Spook Jrs and She Pups, every other cast tossing to the ledges to try to entice fish staging in deeper water.
Make no mistake, a Chicken on a Chain or Morning Glory Bass Assassin have taken monstrous trout as well.
Have one angler throw a plug and the other a plastic to decipher what appetite the fish have.
Large speckled trout are often finicky - a change in the barometer, water temp, tidal flow or anything else you can think of affects your aptitude.
But we keep hunting anyway.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (firstname.lastname@example.org).