The big trout of winter have invaded. Catches of dozens of slot to over-slot trout is a daily occurrence. The trout are fat, aggressive, dependable light-tackle fun that will last for months to come.
The best choice in gear is light leader with light jigs or even topwater lures rigged on rods that have some bend to them. The soft mouths of trout, anglers will find that they will lose fewer fish if they are using rods that will “give” in the tip, rather than the stiffer rods that are necessary to fight more stubborn opponents. Lure selection has everything to do with depth. Topwater lures will work in shallower areas but in the deeper troughs or grassflats, a sinking lure is a better choice.
Trout are cooperative in most situations. With less baitfish around they will compete for food. The best pace of the lures is to run them near the bottom. Drifting an area, when one or two larger trout are hooked, stake out the area because you have probably located the school and should experience steady action.
Using the three to five-inch plastic jigs, accidental catches of huge flounder will be caught on trout outings. An influx of giant flounder came late this year, but is currently another hot ticket in Tampa Bay waters. Specimens over 20-inches have been caught in the past week.