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Green, Deep & Pink...
What I think I know about summer trout fishing is constantly changing. I am always refining my opinion of "can't miss" predictions, patterns, and half-truths (a.k.a. half-lies) when it comes to figuring out speckled trout. I have finally distilled all my personal thoughts, consulted with my trout chasing buddies, and tried to pin down some experts on hooking specks in the warm months. It all comes down to three words. Remember, ask me the same question next year after a fruitless fishing trip and I'll probably have a totally different answer; but for today, this is a 100% guaranteed half-truth for catching specks. Okay, here are the three words: Green. Deep. Pink.
First, find green water. Most folks who have spent any time chasing specks know that green water seems to be the preferred hang out for Cynoscion nebulosus. I've caught specks in muddy water, tannin stained marsh water, and on gin clear flats, but day to day green water will be more productive and offer greater numbers of trout.
Deep water or deeper water is another critical factor in finding your fish. Of course, at sunrise and early in the morning specks will be cruising the flats, foraging for bait around the grass beds, and roaming the shell reefs. But, as the sun rises and the shallow water gets warmer, trout often seem to gravitate to deeper guts, drop offs, and channels of the bay. I think there are a couple of reasons for this. First, they are probably following their food. Secondarily, deep water may be more comfortable in terms of direct sunlight and temperature.
Trout have a wide range of temperature tolerance. Perry Trial, a TPWD coastal fisheries biologist provided me with some data that showed their full temperature tolerance range from 4 to 33 degrees Celsius (39 to90 Fahrenheit). While their temperature preference is from 15 to 27 degrees Celsius (59 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit).This is a very broad range, but I have a few observations that while lacking scientific proof withstand my repeated real world observations. Oxygen content is usually better in deeper bay waters, and specifically dissolved oxygen (D.O.) can be related to temperature. There are other factors that influence D.O., but to keep it simple; deeper water should be a few degrees cooler in the dog days of summer and therefore, in general, have more available dissolved oxygen. Lower temperatures and increased levels of D.O. create a more comfortable environment for trout.
I am not suggesting that you pull out your Hot Spot map and look for the deepest point of your local bay system as your destination. Rather, look for areas where you can launch your kayak that include grass beds or reefs in close proximity to water with depth. Waist to chest deep drop-offs adjacent to oyster beds or grass, combined with good current and tidal flow provides a recipe for hooking a good number of trout. Getting to some of these deeper areas may require some extra paddling on your part, so remember that you can fish while you're paddling to your favorite spots. A trolling rig consisting of a float, two or three feet of leader, and a soft plastic is a great way to pickup a lone fish or even locate a group of schooling fish while kayaking from point A to point B.
Finally, letÕs discuss the importance of pink. There are many different schools of thought on the best color lures for trout. I think the one you have the most confidence in, will be the most productive for you. With that being said, if I had to choose one color for trout fishing, the hands down winner would be pink. Okay, I know itÕs not the manliest of colors, but in green or clear water it is by far the most productive color that I have found. I canÕt really speculate as to the reasons why. Maybe it's because it appears similar to shrimp? Maybe I just have the most confidence in lures that color? Whatever the reason, whether I am throwing top waters, soft plastics, or flies I usually try pink first.
On the subject of lures, (albeit not necessarily pink lures) I asked kayak fishing guru Tom Stubblefield of the Texas Kayak Fisherman website what his preferred artificial for catching summer trout was. He was quick to say that soft plastics are his go to lure. He prefers the ability to work all areas of the water column with soft plastics, from subsurface, to bottom jigging, to skimming them at the surface. As much as I love hooking trout on top waters I have to agree with Tom. Soft plastics offer the best versatility in locating summer trout.
Green, deep, and pink. That friends, is my official summer trout theory, at least for this year. Every time I go out in a kayak I learn something new and that's one of the reasons I often find myself checking the calendar and juggling my schedule. I am always looking for more half-truths, via more time on the bays.
Good luck chasing those trout this summer. I hope to see you on the water paddling out.