A huge flurry of fishing reports of speckled sea trout has come in, and these fish are being caught in areas from the Elizabeth clear up to the Choptank. And while few anglers focus on speckled sea trout this early in the game, truth be told, this is often the best time to catch big gator trout in many areas of Chesapeake Country. Yes, the numbers are usually low and you may fish all day for just a few hook-ups. But this is often when you get into the monsters. If you want to pursue trophy-sized early spring specks, be sure to use these tactics to boost your chances of hooking into a big boy.

speckled sea trout
You want to catch a fat speck? Spring is a hot time to go after the biggies in Chesapeake country.
  • Try topwater – Very large trout are not at all shy about blasting topwater plugs. Most sharpies will agree that a walk-the-dog style retrieve is best, with lure models like the Super Spook XT and the Bandonk-a-Donk topping the list of old reliables. Bone, white, chartreuse, and white/pink color combinations stand out as winners. And generally speaking bigger lures are better – these monster trout are after a monster meal. Use this tactic early and late in the day when there's ambient light but the sun isn't over the horizon. Shallows and creek mouths are the best zones to try.
  • Look for creek mouths draining marshes – Creeks and cuts that drain the marshes are often a foot or two deeper than the surrounding waters, just inside their mouths. These can be extremely small creeks, sometimes just a few feet across. But if they have any sort of significant water flow and a couple of feet of depth, it’s amazing how large a fish you might pull out of there. Water gets warmed by the sun in the shallows then drains through these creeks so it can be several degrees higher than surrounding waters, making this move a top choice during afternoons with falling tides.
  • Look for the edges of weedbeds that converge with drop-offs – This is another favored hunting zone of the specks. Especially when the weeds are in just a few feet of water, but are adjacent to a significant drop-off to five or six feet of depth, you’re in a likely area. Cast right along the edges of those weeds on a high or incoming tide, and hold on tight.

BONUS TIP: There's a window of time, usually in early to mid May, when speckled trout are around but the rays haven't arrived in full force just yet. During this timeframe it's extremely effective to fish soft or peeler crab baits in the same areas you might try lure fishing for specks. When it comes to crab chunks, they just don't seem to be able to help themselves. Once the rays arrive, however, it's game-over for this type of fishing because you'll spend so much time fighting off the rays you'll hardly have a hope of finding a speck or two.

We'll have intel about this fishery coming up on Fridays, so if you haven't already, sign up now to get the FishTalk Fishing Reports!

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted in May of 2018, and was last updated May 9, 2024.