The winter season means different things to each person. Winter can mean cold, snow, dismallness, laziness, etc. To some people like myself, it means big appetites for big speckled trout. This time of year can be a wonderful time to target those trophy class gators that anglers hear about. In the Chesapeake Bay region in Virginia, the Elizabeth River is probably the most popular spot for such fishing.
I was ready to get some pullage at the end of my line after a 7 mile journey for big stripers that yielded zero fish in the boat. Not long after, I found myself calling up Joe Underwood for an after work speckled trout hunt. Anybody that lives around this region knows that the Elizabeth has some BIG trout in the winter months. Joe has already racked up a little pile of trout citations (24″ or better) in the last month so we knew that we had a good chance at hopefully getting another one…or 4!
It didn’t take long to get into the nice specks. The name ofthe game for the night was SLOW! If your presentation wasn’t super slow, you would probably go home hanging your head. Joe was the first one of the night to score a big trout with a 24.25″, to be only followed up with nice 25″. I was getting a little aggravated that Joe was catching more trout than I did, not to mention he just added two more fippin” citations! It was time to step up my game a little bit! I changed tactics up and immediately got positive results. I picked up a few nice fish before I hooked into something with a little more weight. My grin went into a little smile after landing this nice 24.5″ release citation trout.
Watching the awesome meteor shower display had me making many wishes, some detailing fishing. I paddled back to the same spot that I just landed my previous citation hoping for the same “luck”. Not 5 casts later, there was a hook set that was followed up by a loud zing in the drag! Now this fish felt good! The fight was not difficult until I turned on my head lamp and tried to bring the fish up from the bottom. Joe actually reeled in his line to come watch me fight this fish. My 2000 series reel was getting a workout! Finally after many drag rippin runs, I landed a 30″ monster speckled trout! The pictures don’t do this fish any justice.
Remember, don’t get in a rut and reject change if your initial game plan is not working. Those that decide to try something “out of the box” are the one’s who normally catch fish on a consistent basis. We trolled this area with shallow crankbaits and high running jigs with paddle tails without a single strike. It wasn’t until we tied on heavier jigs to crawl 4″ to 5″ paddle tails on the bottom, often pausing them to lay on the bottom before we picked up a fish. After we picked up a couple of fish on this tactic was when we decided to disect the spot with a slow and methodical approach which proved to be the winning ticket! It was like bouncing the bottom with a big 10″ worm going for largemouth bass.
It was just one of those nights; a clear night with an amazing galaxy display, combined with multiple trophy class speckled trout! Needless to say we had a good drive back home. We could have easily went home with a skunk but the decision to change and adapt saved the trip. Next on the list is trophy stripers! Afterall, I did make a lot of wishes during the meteor shower…
~See ya on the water!