Although the Ides of March — March 15 — didn’t exactly turn out well for Julius Caesar, the middle of the month can actually be an awesome time to target speckled trout on topwater lures and jerkbaits.
“I try to tell all my clients to beware the Ides of March,” said Capt. Owen “Big O” Langridge of Big O Charters out of Venice. “Actually, it’s not etched in stone, but that’s normally when a lot of the big trout start coming out of their deep holes — around the middle part of March.”
Hungry specks start patrolling the flats, and Langridge is ready to walk the dog for them with his favorite topwater lure — Heddon’s Spook Jr. in either bone or black-and-chartreuse.
“They’re getting ready for the spawn in May, and these big sows know they have to fatten up because the spawn lasts the entire summer, for five months,” he said. “They hadn’t really done a great deal of feeding for the last three months, so they’re going to come out.
“And shrimp are not really heavy in the water, yet, but the mullet and the baitfish are, and that’s the reason the topwater and the jerkbaits work so well this time of year. That’s what the fish are feeding on.”
Langridge said the key is focusing on spots with clean water adjacent to deepwater holes where trout have spent the winter.
“But I’m not going to fish the deep water,” he said. “I’m looking for shallow water — 2 to 3 feet — within 100 yards of that deep hole. Those fish are going to spend those three months of cold weather down in those deep holes, and they come out the whole winter to feed and they go back to those holes at night when the temperature falls.
“But usually during the first or second week of March the temperature doesn’t fall rapidly and the water temperature overall has warmed up. So those fish are going to come out and be aggressive.”
After starting out the day with topwaters, Langridge often switches to suspending jerkbaits like Smithwick’s Rogue, Rapala’s Shadow Rap or MirrOlure’s MirrOdine Mini.
“I like to pop it hard twice and make it dive and stop, and then dive-and-stop, and then pause it for about five seconds and let it sit there,” he said. “That’s when they really want to hit it.”
Whether you’re walking the dog with a topwater or using a subsurface jerkbait, Langridge recommended going with braided line.
“It’s three times easier to walk the dog with braided line than it is with mono because the braid has no stretch,” Langridge said. “If your braid gets tangled up in the treble hooks in your topwater, put about 12 to 18 inches of mono leader on the end of your braid.
“But fish the braid — it’s just so much easier to fish.”
Typically, you’ll catch larger trout throwing topwaters and jerkbaits, he said.
“You’re going to catch schoolies every now and then, but on the average you’re going to catch 3- and 4-pound fish,” Langridge said.
So start walking the dog and twitching that jerkbait around the middle of the month to catch some big springtime speckled trout.
“The Ides of March are right around the corner, and we’re going to catch fish. This is the window of opportunity,” Langridge said. “This is the time of year you want to hunt with that topwater.
“You can catch fish on topwater year round, but this is the time to catch the big girls.”