Hilton Head anglers are catching plenty of speckled trout, especially on topwater lures early in the morning. Capt. Rick Percy of Reel Chance Charters said the current bite is the best he has seen this time of year in as long as he can remember.

“I’m not sure it’s ever been this good when the weather is as hot as it’s been,” said Percy, who isn’t talking about just numbers, but the surprising quality of the fish.

“Typically, for us, October is the month we really look forward to for speckled trout, but right now, we are having some days that surpass what would be called a good day in October,” Percy said. “We catch a lot of trout in October, and while a fair amount of them are big, eyebrow-raising fish, the majority of them are right in the 14- to 16-inch range.

“Our numbers haven’t been what they will be in the fall, but it is close. But the size — that’s what really makes the current bite so impressive. I’ve had some days where I didn’t even have to break out the ruler to see if they’re legal. We’ve been catching them anywhere from 18 to 26 inches long, and they are fat, healthy fish,” he said, many sows full of fish that are released.

The best action has been early in the morning – the earlier, the better, Percy said, even if that means it’s still dark outside. Oyster shell banks in small creeks are the best places to try, and topwater lures like MirrOlure SheDogs, Live Target Big Mullets, and Heddon Super Spooks are all working well. Most anglers find success when they retrieve the lure with two quick twitches, followed by reeling in the slack, then repeating.

The best way to fish these lures is to identify a starting and stopping point using landmarks on the bank, then use the trolling motor to troll up and down, casting close to the shell bank, and then working them back to the boat. One thing anglers have noticed lately is that the trout seem to be holding in a wide range of depths. While one may hit a lure in less than a foot of water, close to shore, another may hit 15 yards off the bank in 8 feet of water. Percy (803-535-6166) encourages anglers not to give up too early on the retrieve, but to work the lure all the way back to the boat.

Percy also cautions anglers from getting too stuck on one technique, even when it’s working great. He said just because retrieving your lure at the same speed has been producing all morning, it doesn’t mean it will always work at that speed, and just because you got a bite every single time you completely stopped the bait one day does not mean that will work on another day.

“These fish can be on one pattern for several days in a row, or they can change from one hour to the next. Be prepared to try a different retrieve, a different spot, or a different lure color at any time you feel the bite has tapered off,” he said.