Hunting for big trout? Try these proven places
It's the clamor of a way-too-early alarm. It's crunching through shell and mud like walking through a big bowl of Frosted Flakes.
It's the burning in your thighs from a daylong wade in the muck.
It's blazing the open bay at 50 knots in a piece of fiberglass you paid more than $40,000 for just to drop the anchor on a placid shoreline and leap over the gunnels and wade.
It's the slurp of a giant plug. It's a mysterious shuffle under a brilliant moon. It's mullet dashing for their lives and the sweet aroma of watermelon that follows.
It's the beauty of black spots surrounded by a perfect hue of lavender. It's the thump of your heart when you catch your 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 proven lunker trout locales along the upper and middle coast:
Stewts Island - Sabine Lake
I may never have another episode like one June morning a decade ago. 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 more than 28 inches, but the one that got away still haunts me. I lost a fish I estimated at 33 inches - it was too big to grasp. 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. Black Top Dogs still work, but bone Super Spooks, chrome MirrOlure She Dogs and pearl Corky Fat Boys have become popular.
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 in East Galveston Bay 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 the winter, 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 summer, and plum or glow Bass Assassins, Norton Bull Minnows or Texas Trout Killers rigged on a light jig head are solid offerings as well.
There are several wadeable reefs in East Matagorda 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 brown shrimp crop of summer floods the bay. Pluggers and jiggers score here. I choose to wade parallel to the dropoff and work Super Spook Jrs and She Pups, every other cast tossing to 5 feet of water to try and entice fish staging in deeper water. Have your buddy toss a soft plastic; both giving presentations, you can decipher what mood the trout are in that day and make adjustments. Big trout are caught on soft plastics, too.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed fishing guide Email him at email@example.com or matagordasunriselodge.com.