Editor’s Note: Ross Whitworth of Jesse’s Trout Lodge on the Bon Secour River says that January’s one of the best months to catch speckled trout at Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

Question: Ross, how is your fishing in January?
Whitworth: Fishing is often great in January, because the speckled trout will concentrate in holes on the river. We keep three boats running during the winter months, and this time of year can be very productive. Our lodge is located on the Bon Secour River on Mobile Bay, and we’re on the river fishing just about every day of the year.

Question: How do you fish for the trout?
Whitworth: There are lots of options in January. We’ll fish top-water baits early in the morning for trout or use live shrimp and popping corks. Finally, we’ll freeline shrimp down to the bottoms of the deep holes. One advantage here on the Bon Secour River is the underwater springs that bring warm water into the river. The trout will enter these areas and hold all winter long. Besides the Bon Secour River, we’ll fish the Magnolia River and the Fish River, depending on which river is producing the most trout each week. My choice is the Bon Secour River because it usually yields the most speckled trout in January. We target the mouths of tributaries that feed the river, like Schoolhouse Creek, Blight’s Creek, and Boggy Branch, but the mouths of any tributaries that flow into the Bon Secour may produce a good limit of trout this month. The Bon Secour River has 28-foot-deep holes, and often the speckled trout will hold on the bottoms of these holes and nearly becoming dormant. But if you put live shrimp in front of them, they’ll take them. Because speckled trout are schooled-up at this time of year, you’ll generally catch more than one in most locations.

Question: When you’re fishing down 28 feet, what type of bait and line are you using?
Whitworth: I like 10-pound-test line on spinning tackle. I’ll keep my bait about 2 feet off the bottom. I’ll count my line down and measure it out by pulling line from my index finger and thumb down to the end of my arm. I assume that’s about 2 feet of line. You also may use live shrimp and a split shot, let the bait fall to the bottom and reel it up 2 feet off the bottom. We always can purchase a good supply of live shrimp here on the Alabama Gulf Coast. For every three people fishing, we’ll take 10- to 12-dozen live shrimp with us for a trip.

Question: Where do you hook your live shrimp?
Whitworth: I hook the shrimp right behind the horns on the tops of their heads, just behind their brains. This way, the shrimp will swim naturally to the bottom and not be drug to the bottom by the hook’s weight. By hooking a shrimp under the horn, it will stay alive better than if you tail-hook it. 

Question: What’s the advantage of inshore fishing in January?
Whitworth: There are very-few days when we don’t have protected water to fish. Therefore, we aren’t nearly as affected by wind and rain as we’ll be when fishing along the beach.

Question: What are other critical factors involved in catching trout in January?
Whitworth: We time our trips to fish the tides. We always prefer a moving tide, whether it’s coming in or going out. 

Question: How many speckled trout do you usually catch in a day?
Whitworth: On a good day, we’ll limit out on 18- to 22-inch speckled trout.

Question: What about catching flounder and redfish in January?
Whitworth: The flounder will be just about gone. We may catch one or two little ones, but September and October are our good flounder months. We’re catching redfish on both live shrimp and soft-plastic lures. The Berkeley Gulp! seems to be a productive soft-plastic lure to use in January. With three people on-board, we’ll catch three to five slot reds that will measure 18- to 20-inches and weigh 6- to 7-pounds each.

Question: How long are your trips?
Whitworth: Most of our trips are 6-hour trips. We’ll try to leave by 7:00 am to return to the dock around 1:00 pm. Because our lodge is on the Bon Secour River, we’ll have our clients fishing 5 minutes after we leave the dock.

Question: How does someone get in touch with you to book a trip?
Whitworth: You may call the lodge at 251-955-2248, or visit his website at www.jessestroutlodge.com.