By CAPT. WOODY GORE
Not just another pretty face, a pretty fish…Spotted Sea Trout… Speckled Trout as us crackers call them are on fire along the west coast of Florida. The Southern Region opened January 1st and high numbers including some really large fish are being caught daily.
It’s not often I get a chance to fun fish, but recently my son Capt. Mike and I took a morning to toss some artificial lures around a few inter-coastal docks. Starting early we pitched jigs under and around some promising looking docks in hopes of hooking a couple of redfish.
The wind was light and except for the gin clear water it was a good time to fish docks. Moving along the outside edges, Mike kept saying, “Look at the size of that trout.” Finally I moved up to bow and he was absolutely right. Big trout after big trout would scoot out of potholes then bury into the grass. When I say big, what I really mean is huge I estimated many upwards of five to seven pounds.
As expected these shallow water fish were weary of any noise or motion but we started fishing away from the docks toward the broken bottom grass flats. We did manage to land several fish on a Gulp Shad. Of course dad landed the big one and it took some convincing before Mike took the picture. Every father knows how competitive a son can be, but after years of fishing with dad, he’s getting used to it. Although I will admit, he occasionally gets lucky and whips the old man good.
If you’re interested in this marvelous fish here are a few thoughts on catching one of the most beautiful fish in our waters.
Looking for gators: Many anglers’ fish over deep water grass, but here’s secret most giant hunters won’t tell you? If you’re looking really big gator’s… the ones with bright big yellow mouths the size of a coffee can – “go shallow” and fish broken bottom potholes. Keep in mind, shallow water fish get real spooky to noise and commotion which sends them running. Depending on the time of year and water conditions sometimes it’s better to just get out and wade.
Light to medium weight tackle: A 7 or 7 ½ foot light to medium action spinning combination spooled with 10 to 15 lb braid is the preferred choice of most inshore anglers. You get good casting distance and the braid is very sensitive to strikes. It’s also a good idea to use a leader. Not the store bought wire variety with swivels and weights but a single length of 20 to 30 lb. monofilament about 18 inches long and tied to your braid using a Double-Uni or Triple Surgeons knot.
Live shrimp, small pinfish or greenbacks free lined or under a popping cork constantly produce fish. On the other hand, at times they are not actively feeding or seem restless, so switch to dead bait, a little slower fishing but it usually produces.
For some “reel” excitement: Learn to use artificial lures. Fished correctly artificial’s on average out fish live baits. Here’s the premise behind that statement. By continually casting lures you cover a larger area thus exposing it to more fish. In theory you end up taking the bait to the fish, rather than waiting for a fish to find the bait.
Check an artificial angler tackle box and you’ll find lures of various shapes, sizes and colors. Topwater, suspending, and diving plugs, and spoons are all time favorites but soft plastics are essential for trout. Whether you rig them on a jighead or weedless they require a twitch and retrieve action that triggers the strike, between twitches as the lure falls. We usually get a first-class trout bite during the winter months, so keep in mind as water temperatures drop so should your presentation. To maximize cold water presentations slow it down often working it along the bottom.
Larger fish in our future: The past years of Red Tide certainly took its toll on trout killing thousands in Tampa Bay alone. In fact it wasn’t until a couple of years ago we where lucky to even see a trout let alone catch one.
Hopefully, over the next few years provided we can avoid any serious bouts of Red Tide. It could be possible to see some our west coast sea trout equaling their east coast cousins.
Fish for dinner: Nothing beats a fresh fish dinner especially the day it’s caught. Try taking only what you can eat at one time. Most fish especially trout do not freeze well and not stocking the freezer gives you a good reason to go fishing.
Take a Kid Fishing: One of the most significant things we can do as adults is teach our children about fishing and take them. So with patience, teach in such a way they learn to respect for our resources and comprehend the essentials necessary to understand the future benefits.
Everyone should consider fishing as a privilege not a right and we should never take it for granted… whenever possible practice catch and safe release.
For more on pursuing the this terrific fish or charter information, you can contact Captain Woody Gore at (813) 477-3814 or visit his website at WWW.CAPTAINWOODYGORE.COM