Summer heat means speckled trout will be moving from the marshes and bays, stacking up along the beaches of the coast.
Fishing these waters from the boat or by wading can be a feast-or-famine proposition, but Capt. John Chauvin of Capt. John’s Fin-tastic Charters said there are some ways to up your odds of success.
Here are his top tips for surf-fishing success:
1) Look for bait
“I look for any bait shimmying on the surface — shad, minnows, pogies, finger mullet,” Chauvin said. “Of course, I’m looking for birds that signal there’s bait.”
2) Find structure
“If there is any kind of structure — jetties, sandbars, divets in the sand — the fish will pile up looking for bait around that,” he said.
3) Discover underwater contour changes
“Look for changes in beach structure, a break in a sandbar that will form a funnel for the water,” Chauvin said. “A lot of times (the fish) will use that as cover to wait for baitfish to come by.”
4) Fish clean, but not too clean, water
“A lot of times the beaches will get muddy, but water that has a 2-foot stain is still good,” he said. “I find that I do better with a 2- to 3-foot stain or on a cloudy morning.
“But you don’t water that is too clear — that will actually hurt you rather than help you.
5) Fish with live bait — the livelier the better
“Trout are cruising the beaches looking for bait,” Chauvin said. “Trout don’t like to hit anything that’s dead.”
Chauvin carries live shrimp, minnows or pogies. But if he can get croakers he snaps them up.
“Croakers are the natural enemies of trout because they eat (trout) eggs,” he said. “So if trout will eat them even if they’re not hungry.”
6) Fish the breakers
Chauvin said you really can’t get too shallow if you’re after big trout.
“Most of the big fish are in the surf itself, right where the breakers are,” he said. “So even if I’m fishing from a vessel, I position 20, 30, 40 yards off the beack and cast back to the breakers. They’ll be 10 to 15 feet off the beach.
“I’d rather fish the breakers than to fish farther off and catch schoolies.”
7) Fish a Carolina rig
“Just drag the bait along, popping it every now and then to keep the bait lively,” Chauvin explained. “Just slightly keep the line tight so you can feel the bite.
“A lot of times a trout will hit the bait and run toward the boat. If the line goes slack, set the hook.”