Many inland anglers say speckled trout are scarce, finicky creatures in the cold of the winter.
When temperatures drop for an extended period, water surface activity is at a minimal and birds desist in hovering over schools of fish and fleeing bait.
And it’s a rare, winter day when anglers stumble upon shrimp popping out of cold waters.
Some anglers find catching trout during winter so much of a challenge, they’ll clean and cover their boats until the spring.
Certainly there are those who wade-fish for the big lady trout at this time in western inland waters, but such trips are ventures for a few trophies caught on suspending plugs and topwaters.
And then there are those anglers who are overjoyed when so many boats are absent. They have the waters all to themselves, and they just continue catching schooling fish as the waters cool.
One such angler, Louisiana’s Ray Christy, stays on schooling trout throughout the winter.
It is his experience that trout schools can be found in deeper waters adjacent to reefs, flats, shipping channels and dead-end canals. But you’ll have to look for them and cast the appropriate baits.
“We caught some here lately,” 68-year-old Ray Christy said while setting down his trolling motor adjacent to a shoreline in Sabine Lake.
Christy, an avid saltwater angler, is a Vietnam War Veteran and former helicopter pilot.
Retired, he now spends nearly every day fishing in his home waters of Sabine and Calcasieu lakes. He is also a Prostaffer for Egret Baits.
“Here’s one now,” he said on his fourth cast of the morning.
Christy’s rod was in a bend, and he was steady reeling in a trout to the boat.
“Hooked it on the gold nugget,” he said, referring to the color of the Egret Baits, 3.5-inch Wedgetail Mullet tied to the end of his braid.
The trout he hoisted aboard was 15 inches. Christy threw right back into the area hooking another trout that appeared to be a clone of the first.
By morning’s end, Christy had taken and released 20 or so trout ranging 14- to 18-inches in length on gold nugget and opening night Wedgetail Mullets.
“Wedgetails are the only plastics I carry on my boat,” the angler said.
“It looks like a finger mullet, and I like it because its tail vibrates so well.”
The Egret Baits’ Wedgetail Mullet is a lure with a patented design which makes its vortex tail rapidly flutter as it moves through the watercolumn. Usually it is attached to 1/8- to ¼-ounce jighead, but heavier lead will be used when fishing depths near weirs and saltwater barriers in rivers.
“It’s a great cold-water plastic lure,” Egret Baits’ Ken Chaumont said. “It is used very effectively from September through May.
“It’s the patented design of the Wedgetail Mullet that allows the vortex tail to vibrate rapidly.”
According to Chaumont, trout and redfish sense these vibrations on their lateral line that runs lengthwise on the sides of the fish. This biological adaptation allows trout to sense or “feel” vibrations from a distance.
Christy casts Wedgetails attached to Egret Baits Beer Belly jigs on a medium-light, 6.9-foot Garcia Veracity rod. He spools 20-pound Seaguar Kanzen onto a Pflueger Arbor spinning reel. His Wedgetails will be attached to a 15-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader.
“You can actually feel that tail thump rapidly,” Christy said. “The Wedgetail attracts trout and redfish with this vibration.
“Generally when they hit the bait, they have it. Half the time it ends up in their throat.”
Christy works the Wedgetail Mullet as a swimbait. He makes a cast and lets the lure drop and retrieves it with a moderate pumping action.
“It is very important that it be precisely rigged to the jighead,” Christy said. “It will still flutter, but you won’t be able to feel it vibrate unless it stays straight with the hook protruding out of the body on the Wedgetail’s dorsal fin.”
According to Christy, his largest speckled trout taken on a 3.5-inch Wedgetail was a 7-pounder. He’s taken many trout 5-pounds-and-over on Wedgetails.
Brian “Freddy” Frederick, a redfish tournament angler, is also a master at using the Wedgetail.
He enjoys working Wedgetail Mullets for speckled trout in Texas inland waters.
“The Wedgetail Mullet is the only tail-bait aboard my boat,” Frederick said. “The vibration of its tail is just irresistible to trout,” Frederick said.
“Trout usually hit the bait pretty hard to kill it because of its finger mullet design,” the angler said.
Frederick casts his 3.5-inch Wedgetail Mullets on a 7-foot, medium-light Duce Rod with spiral micro guides. Unlike Christy, he uses baitcasting equipment – Shimano reels spooled with 30-pound FINS Windtamer Situational braid.
“I have taken trout up to 7 ½ pounds on the Wedgetail,” Frederick said. “It’s not just a ‘keeper’ trout bait. It will catch large females.”
Frederick will vary his presentation depending on where trout are moving in the watercolumn.
“If trout are not sitting on the bottom, I’ll cast it and pop it up and down quickly,” he said. “You can tell when to work it that way if you start getting hits right when the Wedgetail hits the water.”
Both anglers emphasize that many anglers only use the Wedgetail Mullet as a bottom-bumping plastic.
“Its profile and action make it chiefly a swimbait,” Frederick said. “It is so much more effective when that tail is vibrating. You can feel vibrations all the way up the rod when it is working right.”
As for colors, the stain of the water usually dictates to an angler what should be used.
Generally speaking, deeply stained waters usually dictate darker colors; and lighter, natural colors are more effective when waters are lightly-stained to clear.
There are 14 different colors of Egret Baits 3.5-inch Wedgetail Mullets available to anglers.