Simple variables determine when to go and what to throw
Crystal Beach on Bolivar Peninsula was a rendezvous point for hundreds of teenagers in the late 80s. Armed with pearl and red-tailed tandem-rigged Lil' Fishies, my buddies and I shouldered next to a dozen other anglers wading the edge of the pass.
When it was good, two or three of us would have a fish on at the same time - when it was great a half-dozen would be bowed up simultaneously.
It was the bronze-skinned, blue-eyed blondes hanging from the roll bars of Jeeps that first brought us there, but it was hungry speckled trout riding the tides that kept us coming back long after adolescence.
(Side Note: Regrettably, Army Corps of Engineers are threatening to close Rollover Pass due to silting and the cost of continued dredging to the Intracoastal Waterway. Here's hoping cooler heads will convene and stop this travesty.)
Water temperatures, tide levels, photosynthetic periods, moon phases, baitfish activity and many other undetermined variables determine when and where to cast. When tides are bloated speckled trout are scattered along shallow flats in knee to waist-deep water, often as tight as they can maneuver against a shoreline. Why? That's probably where a candy bar-sized mullet will be.
Great spots are back lakes or extended bayous that run to secluded marsh ponds and undulating sand and grass flats on an incoming tide. Toss to sandy pockets while trout dart from the grass to ambush - that's one reason a speckled trout has so many spots.
When tides are below normal, fish fall off the shorelines or stage in deeper guts. You might have to shuffle to chest-deep water and cast to deeper drop-offs to find fish.
In my home water of Matagorda, I like walking down the edge of a reef in the middle of East Bay and fan-casting on top, along the drop and in the deep water surrounding the shell. All three depths hold potential, depending where the tide is for the day. When you find the sweet spot, most often determined by the presence of baitfish, work it over thoroughly.
Another solid locale is the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway. The ICW extends from Sabine to South Padre and runs laterally along some of the most prolific speckled trout estuaries in the Lone Star State.
I have caught some heart-pounders on the edge of East Matagorda Bay, and it is well documented the number of trophy trout duped while wading the ICW spoil islands near Baffin Bay, Port Mansfield and the rest of the Lower Laguna Madre.
To say I enjoy firing a topwater plug as far as my reel will allow is like saying my retriever enjoys a fresh, blood-dripping ribeye. I never get enough of the plug-sucking, water-thrashing sound a speckled trout makes when it decides in engulf a plastic imitation mullet.
Though I have often been accused of trying to force-feed a She Pup or Super Spook Jr. to stubborn specks, real-world-fishing teaches trout sometimes don't want my prancing plug.
I turned 40 recently and the wisdom my graying head brings prompts me to stuff a pack or two of Bass Assassins in my front pocket in case the fish are alluding the surface.
Surface plugs are indeed the sexiest method to catch trout, but let's be honest, not everyone was made to throw a topwater.
Lure-makers would have you believe walking-the-dog is like walking a dog, but the fact of the matter is it takes a lot of practice, patience and a hint of pragmatism.
That goes for any angler, no matter their level of prowess.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (email@example.com).