Targeting speckled trout on neap tides

When neap tides arrive in the fall and Gulf waters don’t move up and down very much, fishing for speckled trout can be tough — unless you take this Pass Christian guide’s advice

When is the best time to go fishing for speckled trout? Of course, it’s whenever you can go, but some Mississippi anglers will not fish a neap tide — when there’s little vertical difference between high-tide and low-tide levels and not much water moving — because they feel the trout will not bite.

Ronnie Daniels of Fisher Man Guide Service disagrees with this logic.

“A neap tide does not deter me from catching a lot of trout when other people would not go out fishing,” Daniels said, admitting he has to make a few adjustments to catch fish at a time when many anglers don’t think there is enough moving water to trigger much of a bite.

Larger bodies of water

To catch plenty of trout, Daniels (228-323-1115), will fish bigger bodies of water that neck down between smaller islands with a rock and shell bottom. These areas will have more water moving through them, and they’re where he looks for bait.

“This is where you will find the trout,” he said.

The bait, often croaker or mullet, will suspend in the water column in areas with moving water.

“The trout will generally be suspending and holding right off the bottom … waiting for the bait to come by them,” said Daniels, who uses lures that imitate croaker or small mullet, normally good-sized lures.

“The downside to using bigger baits is that there may not as many bites, but (there’s) an increase of catching bigger fish instead of numerous smaller ones,” he said.

Trout are commonly caught in areas with plenty of current. They’re harder to find during neap tides, but they’ll bite in what passes for moving water, normally caused by pinch points.

Daniels will also fish deeper waters with depths of 5 to 8 feet. It will take longer for the lures to get down to the suspended fish, but that’s where the strike will come.

“Usually, the trout will hit when the lure falls right in front of them,” said Daniel, who is looking for a reaction bite and will twitch his rod tip a couple of times when he thinks his lure has fallen to the right depth.

“Most of the time, the trout will slam the lure,” Daniels said. “When you feel the fish hit, then strike firm. Other times, the trout will nudge the bait three or four times but will not commit to a strike.”

Multiple lures

Daniels uses a variety of lures, but he likes those that fall about a foot per second and weigh around a 1/4-ounce: MirrOdine Soft-Dine, Soft-Dine XL, other stickbaits and 1/4-ounce jigheads with soft-plastic baits that imitate baitfish.

Soft-plastic lures on jigheads and lures that suspend or sink slowly, like Soft-Dines, are great fall baits for trout and redfish.

As far as equipment, Daniels uses custom-made 7-foot-3  Parker rods with a medium or fast tip, mated with low-profile Abu Garcia Revo inshore reels spooled with 30-pound braid and 12 to 18 inches of 20-pound fluorocarbon or monofilament as a leader.

Daniels is adamant about tying on lures with a loop knot and never using hardware that might change the way the lure works, altering its presentation.

Daniels generally fishes the Pass Christian area from spring to the end of November. The water temperature will usually drop to around 70 degrees during October and November, after trout finish spawning. He fishes until the water temperature drops into the 60s.

Mississippi has 67 man-made reefs off the coast, managed by Department of Marine Resources. Daniels likes the Gene Taylor Reef, built with rubble from the Bay St. Louis bridge about 7 miles off the beach, 300 yards long, the Jailhouse Reef in Mississippi Sound and the old Pas Marianne Lighthouse, which is 51/2 miles south of Pass Christian.

November’s neap tides

Out of Pass Christian, November’s neap tides — the lowest changes between daily high and low tides — will be Nov. 1-8 and 16-20.

Neap tides are normally related to waxing and waning moon phases. Larger “spring” tides are typically associated with full- and new-moon phases.

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