Big Winter Speckled Trout

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!

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Chris Payne

A lifelong Texan, Chris Payne has been an outdoor enthusiast his entire life and has spent the last 15 years fishing mainly from a kayak. He is known for his thorough and helpful reviews as well as how to articles for nearly everything kayak fishing related. If you have questions or comments, you can leave them on this post or email Chris at:

6 thoughts on “Big Winter Speckled Trout

  • January 31, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Hi, I am writing in reference to your fishing for Speckled Trout. You were talking about fishing at night time. Can you have the same kind of fishing success for Speckled Trout in the day time as you would at nights ? ( especially during the winter ) I have a kayak and would love to fish for specks in the spring if it is a good time to go. I am retired and live near Hagerstown,MD.
    What month would be best for me to try for them around the Bay ?

    Thank You in advanced


    • February 2, 2013 at 10:12 am

      Hey Marvin,
      In response to your question, ABSOLUTELY speckled trout can be caught during the day in the winter. In fact, most of the people that I know that fish for specks in the winter time fish during the day. The same quality of fish can be caught at high noon or midnight. The biggesgt thing in my opinion is having a good tide cycle. These fish like moving water. At the particular location I was at, I look for baitfish on my sonar. When I find bait, I will typically find the trout. A reason I like night fishing is for a couple of reasons. This goes back to my early days of musky fishing pressured water. Speckled trout are very “sensative” to boat traffic and fishing pressure. At night, the pressure calms down and so do the fish. The Elizabeth River in Virginia is where a lot of the speckled trout go for the winter, but come spring time is where they start to move out into the spring/summer areas. In spring time, I normally have better luck during the day with the warming water temperature from the sun. I have had many times where I had a great day time bite, but once the sun went down it shut off. My advice is get out there with a variety of lures and figure out what works. It’s hard to say what the best month might be in your location, but late March/early April could be a good time to start exploring your spring fishing grounds if the weather is nice. I hope this helps. Feel free to ask anything else.

      ~Richie Bekolay

  • March 3, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    I’m going to the Hampton Roads area next week. Any guides able to take me to the trout or redfish? I am happy to paddle or just ride in a boat.

  • June 3, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Enjoyed your article. Just wondering if yall are using any lights to fish under or just fishing in the darkness.

  • May 15, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Nice catch! I don’t think I could stay out there in that cold long enough to get something like that. I bet its freezing out there!

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