It appears that Southeast Texas has been plagued by many days of southeast or southwest winds. Whenever that happens, the entire surf from Cameron, La., all the way to the Bolivar north jetty becomes rough and sandy. On the other hand, a mild less than 10 mph south wind or anything from the north less than 15 mph will clear and color the surf. Whenever that happens, the speckled trout and other game fish will invade the shallows. Migrating shrimp, mullet and pogie shad will provide the fish with a buffet to choose from when they are hungry. There are certain areas, it seems, that tend to continually hold more hungry fish than others along the beach area. Learning where these places are can give you a starting place whenever you are going surfing for speckled trout.
One technique when searching for a place to begin fishing is to locate seemingly nervous bait fish or jumping shrimp. Sometimes it will take some driving on the beach until the bait is located. In the case of jumping shrimp, there will usually be some hungry seagulls feeding on the same shrimp that the specks are after. The specks chase them to the surface where the gulls enjoy their feast. Beware of whether the birds are actually circling and diving into the water or simply looking. The feeding seagulls will be noisy with their screeching and squawking.
There may also be some terns along the beach seeming to be over fish. Sometimes they are, but most of the time they are not over game fish. Some folks refer to them as lying birds. I still recommend giving the feeding terns a try. That’s especially the case when there are several of them, and if there are black ones there. I’ve caught some solid speckled trout and redfish that were under where those terns were feeding.
Locating seagulls or terns that are feeding may not prove to a 100 percent guarantee. I’ve been casting directly where the birds were picking shrimp and have not gotten a strike. There had to be some kind of fish running that bait to the surface, but they would not take whatever lure that I offered to them. In other cases there would be fish that I was not trying to catch. Gaftopsails, Spanish mackerel, hard head catfish, Jack Cravell and oversize redfish are some of the examples. Sometimes there are sharks present.
One calm, still morning, I was after speckled trout just a few miles east of High island. There were signs of big schools of Jack Cravell a good distance from shore, but the seagulls were resting in big numbers all along the beach. The jacks were surfacing and knocking some big pogies into the air. That was a truly awesome sight, but that was not what the fish of the day was for my son, Doug, and me. The tide was beginning to come in fairly quickly, and we hoped that would bring not only bait, but also some hungry speckled trout.
Soon luck was with us. In the surf directly out from the cedar trees there was suddenly heavy seagull action, as well as visible specks chasing shrimp to the surface. After parking the pick-up on solid sand, we headed out into the surf after the fish. Doug headed westward down the surf and I went to the east. Having waded through the chest-deep trough and on to the thigh-deep sandbar, the casting began. The speckled trout seemed to take the leadhead jig that I was casting as soon as it reached them. At that time, I still used a stringer to retain the fish that I was taking home.In short order, I had a limit of solid specks , I’d caught and released a few more, and I was ready to head back to the pick-up to ice them down. By now the tide had risen from thigh deep to armpit deep. While I was still in trough-deep water, I noticed the shadow of a big fish between where I was and the beach front. It was then that I saw the dorsal and tail fins of a big bull shark. As I froze in my tracks, the shark turned, disappeared and then appeared, rapidly heading in my direction. More quickly than I could imagine, it had swam past me, headed for deeper water. Along with it was my entire stringer of big speckled trout. It had taken the fish, stringer and all, and made not more than a red spot on my leg. Did I head back out? Not that day. I know now that there are fish-hungry shark in the surf.