If we experience a string of a few warmer days in February — which seems pretty likely this winter — Capt. Kris Robert will take advantage of the bump in water temperature to capitalize on speckled trout that have moved up to the flats.
To do this, Robert uses a two-pronged approach to make his presentation as enticing as possible to specks in wintertime feeding mode, combining heavier line with a lighter jighead to keep the bait in the strike zone as long as possible.
“You want the bait to fall as slow as possible,” said Robert, with One Last Cast Charters just across the state line in Slidell.
Achieving this is possible by moving up to 17-pound-test line and downsizing to either a ¼- or 5/16-ounce jighead. “That time of year, especially when they’re up on the flats, you’re not fishing in water that deep. So you want that bait to fall as slow as possible to keep it in the strike zone because a lot of those fish will be suspended in the water column trying to warm up.
“So the slower it falls, the longer you’re keeping it in the strike zone. If you’re using a ⅜- or ½-ounce jighead, it’s just going to slam right past them into the bottom.”
But don’t think Robert is just slow-rolling his artificial lure on the flats.
Quite the opposite — he’s jigging it pretty aggressively.
“When they get up on that flat, they’re in feeding mode then,” Robert said. “I’m actually popping it pretty good, making that cast and letting if fall slow. If you don’t get a bite there, I’ll whip it pretty good to try to get it off the bottom and bring it up as high as I can in the water column, and then let it fall down slow again.
“That’s when you’ll feel that tick or the line will go straight or tight on the fall.”
Robert said a minimum of 55 degrees is pretty much the water temperature necessary to target specks up on flats — and if you can find areas where those shallower areas drop into deeper water, you’re going to maximize your time on the water.
“... (T)they can go down in those deep holes when it gets cold, and when the temperatures warm up they’ll rise up off the bottom and get back on the flat,” he explained.