It's the clamor of a way-too-early alarm. It's the burning in your thighs from a daylong march crunching through shell and mud. It's blazing the open bay at 50 knots in a $40,000 piece of fiberglass just to drop the anchor on a placid shoreline and leap over the gunwales and wade. It's the beauty of black spots surrounded by a perfect lavender hue and the thump of your heart when you catch your first glimpse of the fish and realize it is too large to grab. This is the hunt for large speckled trout, and it's why we Texans are considered fanatics. Here are five proven Lone Star lunker-trout locales.
1. Stewts Island - Sabine Lake: I may never have another episode like on one June morning a decade ago. Guide Chuck Uzzle and I slid into the water just after sunrise and began throwing black Top Dogs. You have a feeling it is going to be a good day when you take two steps from the boat, make a cast and are greeted by a 24-inch trout.
That first fish was the smallest of the morning. For the next three hours we caught and released nine trout over 28 inches, but the one that got away still haunts me. I lost a fish I estimated at 33 inches - it was too big to grasp! Mind you, I had already fooled a half-dozen specks busting 8 pounds before that blow, and this magnificent specimen dwarfed them all. I estimated it at 12 pounds.
The conditions that made the dawn so magical were the presence of mullet and an incoming tide. The tide had ushered rafts of hand-size mullet to the sand flat from the nearby Sabine River, and a harem of large trout had followed. It was easy pickings for the trout shadowing the school of bait, making it even easier to fool the beasts with dog-walking plugs.
The same tactics and conditions apply today. Black Top Dogs still work, but bone Super Spooks, chrome MirrOlure She Dogs and pearl Corky Fat Boys have also become popular.
Pro's Choice: To match the mullet coming in from the Sabine River, artificials such as MirrOlures and Top Dogs are a good choice.