We all have many ideas what a good spotted sea trout or red drum fishing spot should look like. Perhaps it’s surrounded by pristine sand dunes and native grasses, and has that perfect seagrass bottom that you are looking for, or it’s a hidden marsh lagoon surrounded by mangroves and includes small oyster reefs. We spend so much time running to the prettiest spot, that has the prettiest water, miles and miles from our truck and we wonder why we don’t catch any fish or only catch ‘dinks’. Can an angler catch fish at ugly fishing spots?
I’ve been finding great fishing, wherever great fishing occurs, and many times those locales haven’t exactly looked like what I thought they should. Even today, I ran the boat to several isolated bays to find a school of nice speckled trout right behind the boat ramp. I knew the structure was right for it to produce and when I saw good sign of fish presence, I didn’t hesitate to fish so close to the boat ramp. It was less than 50 yards to the entrance to the harbor. In fact 3 other fishing boats left the harbor while I steadily caught fish keeping my rod low in the water as they idled by I fought 18 to 24 inch speckled trout and waved.
We always seem to feel the need to make the run to the other side of the bay to that ‘perfect’ spot. I did just that this past Friday and made a 22 mile run. Granted I knew fish were there, and I knew it was the right type of area for the fall. Then today I caught solid fish less than one-half a football field away from my parked truck. It’s almost laughable. Here’s the deal, the fish don’t know they aren’t suppose to be somewhere. As long as the location and habitat matches what they are looking for, then, the fish will be there regardless of what the ‘above surface’ features look like. And the fish certainly don’t care if we like it or not, in fact they’d prefer if we DON’T like it.
So what makes a good fishing spot for speckled trout, redfish, or flounder. First of all it must be in the right part of the bay system for season. Does the area normally contain spotted sea trout or redfish during that season, or are they somewhere else looking for some huge forage mass? No ‘spot’ will produce if it’s not in the right part of the bay for the season. And nothing will get you a ‘skunk’ or a ‘dink’ faster than fishing the wrong part of the bay for a certain season.
Next, it has to have the right structure that matches the habitat of the fish you are targeting. If you’re seeking trout, that spot better be speckled trout habitat. It should be within the right depth for trout and give them plenty of opportunities to ambush prey from below from a main bay drop off, the edge of an oyster reef, or the edge or pocket in the grass. The habitat and depth must match for the species you are going after…PERIOD.
And similarly to the seasonal requirement, the location has to have forage present. Many ‘spots’ seem almost perfect, but they are missing one element or more, and if one of those elements is ‘lacking prey within the close proximity’, even the prettiest locations will not produce. If, however, a ‘fishing spot’ contains all the above parameters, yet it’s a little less than pristine then that can be a great spot and it will produce when everything lines up for that location. Take for example, a big trout spot I found last fall. I had found this location using aerial photography and it seemed promising. Deep water nearby, great oyster reef, and mud. A perfect big trout play for sure. It was in the upper section of the estuary so I knew that It would fit the bill for a late fall / early winter location. I did wonder how the boat traffic would be… because it was in the back of the harbor. In fact I fished closer to my truck and trailer than the actual run distance to the spot was.
Today’s location was similar. Great oyster reef on a drop off, broken oyster on a mud bottom in 5’ of water, and the forage mass was passing through.. another great fall and winter location. Did it matter to me that it wasn’t 22 miles away? Not after that first hookset; No. Ugly spots can be anywhere from just right of the boat ramp and behind an oyster boat harbor or behind some rock embankment that lies forgotten by many with boats designed to run 22 miles. My whaler runs 56mph but I don’t even have to get on plane in to fish some of these locations. Good part is everyone just waves as they pass thinking maybe I’m still waiting on a buddy to show up at the ramp.. Don’t overlook ugly spots for speckled trout, redfish and flounder. Look for areas with the right structure and depth and in the right part of the estuary for the season and go for it. Be willing to stick that rod low under the water to let other boaters by as you fight your fish.