Just as much as coastal fishermen will be checking salinity levels in April, they will also be eyeing their water-temperature gauges to get a jump on speckled trout fishing.

“Water temperature has a lot to do with trout,” said guide Sonny Schindler of Bay St. Louis. “When the water temperature climbs out of the 60s and into the 70s, it’s like magic — you know, like somebody flipping a switch that turns on the speckled trout.

“Trout seem to disappear on us over the winter in the Mississippi Sound and Biloxi Marsh, but then they reappear in masses as soon as the water hits 70 degrees. When I see 70 degrees, I know it’s time to go hit the grass beds or go hit the marsh flats about 3 to 4 feet deep.”

Schindler also has an eye out for baitfish.

“I think a lot of it has to do with the sudden emergence of what we call baychovies, (glass minnows),” he said. “They show up in huge schools, and if you can find one, you can bet the trout have found them, too. They gorge themselves on them, and they get fat. When you swing a trout in the boat there’s a better than average chance they will spit out a few minnows on the deck. It’s like they’ve been starving for months, and then, all of a sudden, there’s this marsh full of these small nutritious fish they can eat.”

At sunrise, the usual lure of choice is a topwater plug.

“You have to try it, because if there’s a big trout out there, a gator trout, it will smash it,” said guide Kenny Shiyou. “That’s a great technique that starts in April and goes through the spring, but it’s only good until the sun gets up, maybe about the first hour. There’s still plenty of time to go chase keeper trout to fill the fish box after that.

“I’m always looking for the schools of baitfish, and I’m looking for sandy or shell bottoms in 3 to 4 feet of water where there is current running through a stretch of the marsh. A popping cork with plastics is usually all you need. Just pop it along as the current carries it through the fish.”

Tommy Sutton of Columbia has discovered a little-known lure from Strike King that has proven deadly on big trout hanging near the bottom in the same situations.

“That Trout Magic spinnerbait that Strike King came out with a couple of years ago is exactly that, magic,” he said. “That small, silver willow-leaf blade that runs along the underside of the belly of the grub provides just enough flash and vibration to evoke a reaction strike from a stubborn trout right on the bottom. And if the action is quick, it can be reeled through the school like a swimbait, to get the active fish to bite.”