The best all-around inshore soft bait for catching speckled trout and redfish is the Berkley Gulp! Shrimp. Gulp Shrimp contain a powerful scent and can be bought in bulk in resalable containers that will keep them moist and scented for your next inshore fishing outing.
The Gulp Shrimp bait brings in fish from far away as it releases its powerful scent in the water. Carolina fishing expert and writer Dr. Bogus of the Emerald Island, NC area says that Gulp baits work even for inexperienced anglers who wouldn’t consider themselves skillful trout or redfish stalkers.
"Gulp baits are awesome and catch plenty of fish,” says Dr. Bogus. “They turn mediocre anglers into flaming geniuses."
Fishing them isn't quite as easy as just tossing them out, however, and there are some techniques that specifically work well on inshore redfish and speckled trout. If you use them you will catch more fish with the Gulp Shrimp.
One of these is a useful maneuver called the crawl. This can be accomplished when the tide is not running at full strength. Usually, the best time to fish for redfish and speckled trout will be when the current is really moving, as they will hang around in deep water next to shallow water currents trying to pick off stray shrimp and baitfish.
When the tide slackens however, you can still catch fish. Redfish and speckled trout will often go to the bottom at these times. Just take your Berkley Gulp! Shrimp and impale it on a jig head of about 3/8 ounce (or as light as you can go and still reach the bottom). Cast the lure out near slow running current or near some sort of structure, or around grass beds. Let it sit just about ten seconds and then slooooooowly crawl it back to you using agonizingly slow turns of the reel.
The Gulp Shrimp will crawl along the bottom and attract the attention of cruising redfish and speckled trout. They will nudge up against it to see what they think and that is where the Gulp scent goes to work for you. By moving slowly you get a lot of time for the fish to smell the lure and become convinced that it is the real deal, even though it isn't.
Once a redfish or speckled trout decides that the lure is something worth eating it will pick it up and be off. This can seem like just a couple of taps on the line in some cases, although at other times trout will give a long pull and drum will just hammer the bait.
This tactics also works well if flounder are in the area. The key is to go slow, and don't be hesitant to pause the retrieve every now and then.
If you are using scented baits like the Gulp Shrimp then you want to make the scent work for you, and that won't happen if you rip the lure past the fish before they can smell it. Remember, the number one mistake people make when fishing with Gulp baits is retrieving the lures too fast.
Another proven method of catching redfish and speckled trout with your Berkley Gulp! Shrimp is to hop the lure back to you. This tactic also works great for flounder, and will even fool pompano in the surf. Cast the product lure out with a jig head heavy enough to reach bottom and let it sit for twenty seconds. Then lift the rod tip suddenly and quickly, with a flick of your wrist (not your arm), to bring the bait up off the bottom.
This action replicates the jumps of a real shrimp in the water. Lower your rod tip and let the lure fall back down. Many hit will come as the lure is falling, so stay alert. You don't need to overdo it in your hopping-just four or five hops every minute should work.
The Berkley Gulp! Shrimp can also be used throughout the water column and under a popping cork just like live shrimp. You should only pop the cork once or twice every thirty seconds to imitate a real shrimp. The subtle action and scent of the lure will bring trout and redfish in.
As for color, a lot of anglers like the New Penny color as it often matches the color of shrimp in inshore Carolina waters. Pearl White and Nuclear Chicken are also popular colors with saltwater anglers using the Gulp Shrimp.
For many more saltwater fishing tips check out my book Surf and Saltwater Fishing in the Carolinas