Karen Doughtie, wife of the writer, shows off a nice speckled trout.

“That’s it! You got it! Make that thunder talk!” 

 If you heard someone say that, what would you think the person was talking about? Well, right now – and probably until the water gets below 50 degrees – there will be a whole lot of “thunders” talking as fisherman target one of the most beautiful fish in the ocean: the speckled sea trout. 

They’re talking about Cajun Thunder, a bobber that makes a “click-clack” noise when jerked that absolutely drives trout nuts. 

I went out in mid-October and joined the multitudes targeting trout. Almost every boat that passed me had four to six rods in the rod holders – each rod adorned with either a Cajun Thunder cork, a popping cork or one of those foot-long, old school red and white corks.

For me, the cool weather always brings back memories of days spent trout fishing with my dad. As the water begins to cool, herds of trout invade our waters. There is just something about these fish that makes you want to fish for them time after time after time.

For some it might be their iridescent colors – a sort of purple mixed with yellow, red and blue (depending on which way the light is hitting them) – that makes them so irresistible. Personally, I love the surface headshake of a large trout that I have just hooked. When fishing with live bait, watching that cork disappear in a flash is a joy hard to beat. For most any fisherman, that sight will take you back to those exciting childhood memories when you used worms and one of those round red and white plastic bobbers and it too disappeared. 

Best of all is where you find one trout, you’ll often find a hundred just like it.

It might also be that trout aren’t picky about what they eat. They can be caught on live shrimp or live finger mullet, but when those baits begin to get scarce, that’s when I really like to go after them. 

Generally, I might keep one out of every 20 fish I catch – then again, some days I might catch as many as 60 fish and not keep a single one. 

Trout are delicious table fare, especially if eaten within the first day or two after being caught, but what makes fishing for them so addictive is the combination of crisp, clear autumn air and the beautiful golden marshes that make a trout expedition unforgettable. 

I particularly like to go after them at first light. Since trout are primarily incoming tide fish, I look at the tides for a given month and mark on my calendar the days when the tide is just right at first light. With nothing more than an ultra light spinning rod and some artificial lures, I often can catch and release several dozen trout before some of you even get out of bed. What a way to start the day!

All you need is a handful of soft plastic screw tails and a couple of lead jig heads and you can catch a trout on just about every cast. 

One of my favorite methods is using a Cajun Thunder cork with about two feet of 6- or 8-pound test mono and, for bait, either a white DOA imitation shrimp or the locally made Trout Trick lure with a 1/8-ounce lead head that looks more like a purple freshwater bass worm than anything you might find in the ocean.   

Which lures to use is a bit tougher to choose, as trout can be caught on many different kinds. Chartreuse screw tails with glitter in them are probably the best-known trout killers, followed by the “electric chicken,” a combination of pink and chartreuse. But, as with any fish, it’s wise to take a variety of colors because light conditions can change what’s hot and what’s not.

Trout love to hang up tight to the marsh grass, and that’s when I like to pull out a two-tone greenish, weedless jerk bait. The presentation is slow and steady with a twitch thrown in every other revolution. For whatever the reason, the bites just seem to be more vicious.

Keep in mind that sea trout have very delicate mouths. When you feel one latch on to the screw tail, don’t yank to set the hook. Simply reel faster and faster, and nine out of 10 times that’s all you’ll need to set the hook. 

For big trout, a landing net is a must because that soft mouth will rip if you try and lift a big one into the boat. All you’ll have as a lasting memory is the fish swimming off.

From what I have seen so far this year, there are trout everywhere. Though many are undersized, if you weed through these little guys you’re pretty much guaranteed to latch onto some nice keepers.

Collins Doughtie, a 60-year resident of the Lowcountry, is a sportsman, graphic artist, and lover of nature. collinsdoughtie@icloud.com