John's Journal... Entry 140, Day 1
SECRETS OF CHOCTAWHATCHEE BAY
Learn How and Where To Catch Speckled Trout
EDITOR'S NOTE: Some of the best speckled trout fishing in the nation is in Destin, Florida. Captain Mike Parker's Guide Service books for three different captains who fish the Choctawhatchee Bay area around Destin almost daily. Captain Rich Walker has fished and guided on Choctawhatchee Bay for more than 10 years.
As you drive north over the bridge from Destin, Florida, toward Fort Walton Beach, Florida, if you look to the right, you'll see Choctawhatchee Bay. Although speckled trout, flounder and redfish thrive in this region, most novice and first-time fishermen to the area strike out.
Because the water depth appears the same throughout most of the bay, which features a variety of grass beds in different shapes and sizes, you may expect to catch speckled trout anywhere you cast. "But you can't," Captain Rich Walker of Destin, Florida, says. "For success, you must learn how, when and where to fish the grass beds in Choctawhatchee Bay. I search for parts of grass beds that look like they'll home trout. Trout often will lay in depressions and holes inside the grass beds and on grass-bed points."
Walker uses a secret tactic to get close to the trout. "When I see a grass bed I want to fish, I try to determine the direction of the wind and the tide," Walker reports. "I position my boat about 50 yards above the grass bed I want to fish, turn off my motor and let the wind or the tide move me across the grass bed without making a sound. I ask my fishermen to remain as quiet as possible and to not bump anything in the boat that may spook the trout." As Walker drifts across the grass bed in as shallow as 2 to 2 1/2-feet of water, he'll cast live, 2- to 2 1/2-inch-long menhaden that he catches in a cast net each morning before he goes fishing. He believes that you need at least 100 to 150 menhaden to fish the flats of Choctawhatchee Bay for a morning or an afternoon trip. According to Walker, "You must keep the water moving in the livewell to keep that many menhaden alive and active."
Walker prefers to fish for speckled trout with a No. 1 circle hook because he believes, "Once you hook a trout on a circle hook, you'll seldom lose the fish." Walker ties the hook directly to either 10- or 12-pound-test line. He doesn't use weights or floats on his line but prefers to let the menhaden swim free.
For more information on fishing Choctawhatchee Bay or to fish with one of the guides, contact Mike Parker at 408 Lee Lane, Destin, Florida, 32541, call (877) 827-7667 or check out his website at www.destincharterboats.com.
TOMORROW: LIVE CHUM