Texas Trophy Trout Tactics
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Although redfish have been the driving force behind inshore tournament trails, if asked, most Texas bay fishermen would quickly admit their biggest dreams are made of trophy trout, not tailing reds. Over the next month or two, many coastal fishermen will be attempting to fulfill those dreams as egg-laden specks begin to prepare for their annual spring spawn.

Of course, though some recreational anglers will be going it alone this spring, many more will be relying on professional guides to point the way to their trout of a lifetime. Surprisingly enough, despite being separated by hundreds of miles of coastline, pros from the upper, middle and lower coasts have similar strategies for tackling trophy trout.

“I'll be knee-deep in mud and shell,” said renowned Matagorda big trout guru Capt. Bill Pustejovsky. “If you want big trout, you have to find mud and shell. There's no two ways about it, that's where the big fish will be, so that's where I'll be.”

“Early in the spring, I'll spend most of my time wading mud, because mud soaks up heat and tends to keep the water a few degrees warmer,” added Capt. Bruce Shuler of Port Mansfield's Get-A-Way Adventures Lodge. “As the water begins to warm, we'll shift our focus to sandy potholes. When the fish are spawning, I'll also look for places that have some current. For us, that means areas near passes and cuts.”

Guide Capt. Jim Onderdonk of Poco Loco Lodge in Falfurrias spends his time fishing the fabled big trout haunts in Baffin Bay. Like his upper and lower coast counterparts, Onderdonk feels it's important to get out of the boat when seeking super-sized specks.

“When I'm fishing for big fish, I spend a lot of time wading areas that have a mud and shell bottom and a combination of shallow and deep water nearby,” said Onderdonk
Finding big trout are one thing, getting them to bite is quite another, as each pro is quick to point out. And, although most agree big topwaters and slow-sinking plugs will produce sow specks, each guide has his own “surprise” bait he'll go to in order to fool finicky trout.

“I like throwing big topwaters, like Super Spooks, for the most part,” said Shuler, who advises anglers to keep chunking, even if a day yields only a few strikes. “However, later in the spring, I'll actually switch to small topwaters, like Spook Jrs.”

“I'll throw all the usual stuff - Spooks, Ghosts, She Dogs, Corkys,” Pustejovsky said. “But, I really like throwing a big Rapala broken back. But, I don't use it right out of the package - I modify it a bit. I get the one with a black back, gold sides and orange chin. Then, I take a black Magic Marker and put tiny black dots on the gold sides. Then, I paint the tail chartreuse.”

Of the three, Onderdonk deviates the most from the typical trophy trout formula. “I do throw topwaters, but I also like big soft-plastics,” said Onderdonk. “But, my secret bait is the Chatter Tube. It is essentially a tube slipped over a rattle chamber body. You can do things with that bait that no trout has ever seen. Sometimes, that's what makes the difference.”

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