Winter, and the presence of threat of cold weather, hems up many anglers indoors. While many fisheries, inshore and offshore, do deteriorate, speckled trout action is far from over in the waters around Georgetown, just south of South Carolina’s Grand Strand.
Speckled trout have been nicknamed “winter trout,” and for good reason. They are accustomed to cooler weather in their inshore territories, and the action can be great. If anything, the cooler weather concentrates fish into more-confined areas, so anglers don’t have to spend as much time looking for them and have more time to crank them in.
Guide Jeff Lattig of Living Water Guide Service out of Pawley’s Island, S.C., loves the winter in his neck of the woods. The cool weather produces less angler competition for big catches of South Carolina’s speckled fare.
After Christmas, Lattig shifts to his winter gameplan, with a different type of location and a more refined tackle presentation.
“When it’s colder, the fish look for deeper water that has more stable water temperature,” said Lattig (843-997-4655). “Trout can take the cold water, but it needs to be consistent to avoid cold stun.”
Occasionally, cold-stun events occur, and aggregations of trout are found floating belly up on the water’s surface. Due to their cold-blooded physiology, trout become lethargic in extremely cold water that inhibits their mobility. They are susceptible to getting caught in places when the water temperature falls too rapidly from an approaching winter weather storm.
Georgetown has no shortage of speckled trout habitat, including winter hideaways. Lattig fishes from behind Debordieu Island in the North Inlet area south to the Santee Delta and Cape Romain. As winter creeps into the region, Lattig ventures up the main creeks and rivers into the more temperature-stable waters where deep water is available.
“I concentrate in inland areas with creek bends that have 10- to 15-foot water present,” Lattig said. “And if it gets real cold, the fish will slide into deeper spots.”
Trout will be congregated in these deep pockets and often willing to cooperate with a well-placed lure. Lattig prefers to lighten up as much as possible to offer a soft presentation; a 1/8-ounce jighead is usually his go-to lure.
“I like to slow-roll paddletail grubs along the bottom,” he said.
Winter fishing also means super-clear water, and when the water is clear, anglers must switch their color palettes over to lures that are nearly translucent. Some of Lattig’s favorites are Saltwater Assassin’s shad tails in Opening Night and Egret’s 3-inch Wedgetails in Easy Money and Mystic.
“Easy Money and Mystic are good winter choices and some of my favorites when the water is gin clear,” he said.
While fall fishing for specks is often the pinnacle for most inshore anglers, winter is never a time to take a bye. Look upriver, far from the ocean, and expect deep holes near the freshwater fringe to stack up with specks during the coldest months.