Another mild winter is keeping the fishing grounds open for business, and speckled trout continue to provide steady action for anglers in the Santee Delta and its neighboring waters, according Captain Gene Dickson of Delta Guide Service.

"With the water temperature up, we are catching quite a few trout," he said.

Typically, February water temperatures reach their seasonal lows, dwindling into the lower 40s and often into the upper 30s. But this winter, the inshore bite has been relevant as water temperatures have hovered around 50 degrees.

As a result, the trout bite last fall and this winter has been one of the best in years. Dickson is finding his fair share of trout in the places he typically finds them in the early winter.

"Instead of pitching to the bank, fish in deep areas associated with deep-water points," said Dickson (843-546-3645). "In cold weather, fish 15 to 20 feet deep; on warm days, fish will move into shallower areas." 

Trout will be tightly-packed schools, often repositioning at different places in the deeper water. Dickson hits several spots over the course of a day's trip, and he will typically find a group of feeding fish.

"Sometimes they are real thick in a certain spot on one day, and you can catch all you want why they are there," he said. "The next day, they may move to another place, and we fish around until we find them again."

Dickson suggests starting on deeper around the inlets and working inland. If the water gets real cold over the next few weeks, he will move to where the rivers meet the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.  

While Dickson fishes several stages of the tide, he prefers rising water, which will be the clearest. Even though the winter has been mild, he advises working lures at a very slow pace. He prefers red, ¼-ounce, jigheads with a variety of soft plastic bodies.  

"Chartreuse with metal flake and smoky with metal flake are always my 'go-to' colors for most of the year for trout," he said. 

Beyond jig and grub combinations, D.O.A. Shrimp and a variety of the sinking MirrrOlures will produce, but all should be fished slowly and just off the bottom for the best results.