Recently, I had the opportunity to do some winter speckled trout fishing with Lyle Johnson of Ascension Outdoors TV show. Lyle is always fun to compete with on a fishing trip; although I never set up the competition–it just somehow happens. He’s a great sport, and we enjoy the banter, but not as much as we enjoy hauling in those beautiful speckled trout.
As you will see and hear, the speckled trout were biting under what we call a popping cork. The method is snapping your rod in a short jerk, causing the noisy cork sitting on top of the water to “pop”, making a sound that mimics shrimp snapping on the surface of the water or the sound of fishing snatching bait off the surface, which attracts trout.
After popping the cork, reel in the slack, pop again, and reel in the slack until that cast produces a trout. When the fish bites, the cork will go all the way under, and the buoyancy of the cork almost sets the hook automatically, making popping cork fishing great for beginners. Jerking upward and setting the hook guarantees you will land the fish, but if you’re not quite adept at it, you can still haul in some fish.
You will notice that Lyle was a little stubborn, insisting on fishing what we call “tight line” on the bottom, because he hates using a popping cork. Using a jig head and plastic bait, he cast his line and let the lure sink to the bottom, and then reeled in with a slow, even retrieve. The bite is a little harder to feel this way, and it takes more skill to set the hook, so I guess we can say that Lyle likes a challenge.
The trout should be biting on the warmer days this month; but after that, it will be hard to coax their lethargic bodies off the bottom until they start migrating out to the Gulf to spawn starting in March.
Whether caught under a popping cork or tight lining, a speckled trout still tastes the same. They are delicious pan seared, blackened, and fried southern style. Our favorite way to eat fried fish down the bayou is with white beans and rice. Dash a little Louisiana hot sauce on those beans, and you’re good to go!
If you would like to skip right to the fishing part of the show, move the slider to 4:20, and the fishing starts right after the commercial break.
I hope you enjoy watching the video, but I’m sure you won’t have as much fun watching as we had catching!
Many thanks to my buddy Lyle for coming down and fishing with me.