With November comes the best shallow-water speckled trout fishing of the year, and after a few mild winters, the fish are healthy, fat and plentiful. As the water cools, specks are active, schooled up and gorging themselves in anticipation of cold, winter weather. Whether you target trout with popping corks and bait, jigheads with plastic trailers on spinning or baitcasting tackle, or fly rods, the action is as good as it gets.

At times, trout venture into very shallow water and over oyster bars, chasing bait, but mostly, they congregate in slightly deeper water. Strikes are often subtle, and hooksets should be smooth and relatively gentle compared to redfish because of the trout’s softer mouth. But at the bite of steel, trout turn on the power. Large, gator trout fight especially hard, and of course, all of them are great table fare. 

Two factors will determine whether you will catch trout this fall — being able to find them, and then, knowing how to catch them. Shannon O’Quinn, an Orvis-endorsed guide who works out of Bay Street Outfitters in Beaufort, S.C., said some generalities apply to finding trout.  

“I find them in moving and relatively clean water that is not clouded with sand or pluff mud,” O’Quinn said.  

Trout often hold in 2 to 5 feet of water relating to structure, which generally means oysters. Focus near oysters on points, standalone oyster bars with current, up-tide and down-tide sides of creek mouths, and grass-line edges — especially where oysters break the current flow. Trout move in and out of areas depending on the availability of food and the tide stage, so when you find them, keep hitting that spot until they quit biting.

So that’s the where; what about the when? Trout feed at all stages of the tide in November, but O’Quinn and many seasoned anglers prefer the top half of the tide,