Over the past few weeks, most Grand Strand anglers have pointed their vessels towards places rich with king mackerel or bull reds and of course, the ever-so-famous spot that makes places like Murrell’s Inlet and Little River a permanent attraction for visitors to the Grand Strand. Finally, they’re paying attention to speckled trout.

The absence of the usual speckled trout flurry has puzzled diehard anglers for weeks, because specks typically strong in the middle of October with a solid bite at the jetties and inland. But the wait is finally over, as recent cold fronts have brought a massive influx of specks into Little River and Murrells Inlet.

Around Little River, Capt. Mark Stacy of Ocean Isle Fishing Charters was the leader of the welcoming party this past Saturday when fish seemed to show up in large numbers.

“It was like a light switch. As soon as the cold weather crossed into South Carolina, the trout began biting strong,” said Stacy (910-279-0119). “I fished several days in a row and I went from catching a handful of trout on one day to well over 30 the next.”

Speckled trout are temperature dependant. It usually takes a few good cold fronts to lower the water temperature and get the fish here and in the feeding mood. The water temperature in Little River has dropped from 69 to 63 degrees in just a few days, creating an ideal situation for speckled trout.

For Stacy, the fish are biting strong on both live shrimp and a wide selection of artificial lures.

“When they first started biting, I was using live shrimp, but I quickly switched to the Cajun pepper Vudu shrimp and have kept catching them consistently ever since,” he said.

Around Murrells Inlet, Capt. Jason Burton of Fly Girl Fishing Charters reports plenty of fish being caught at the jetties and just inside the inlet on live shrimp.

“The trout showed late, but right when the shrimp showed up as they normally do,” said Burton (843-798-9100). “The cold fronts drive the shrimp south, and we see an influence of speckled trout shortly afterwards as a result.”   

Live shrimp is the mainstay for Burton this time of year, and he has changed up his float rig some to get the bait to the fish in a less intrusive way. Typically, the long, skinny corks tend to tangle often and anglers have a tough time getting the lure to the fish without crossing a hurdle.

“We take popping corks and cut them in half so you can cast them better in the wind,” said Burton, who will use a traditional slip-cork rig that controls the depth with a bobber stopper. Anglers can fish anywhere from two to 20 feet down very easily with a slip cork rig.

But the move to use braided line has introduced a problem for anglers using the slip-cork rigs and live shrimp. The typical string tied onto the line will slide preventing anglers from controlling their depth. Burton has started using a different kind bobber stopper made by Danielson that appears to be made just for anglers using braided line as their main line.

“I use the new rubber stoppers on braid. They grab on tight to the braid and rarely slip at all,” said Burton.