Spotted Seatrout are the most popular fish in the state of Florida, and we catch some big ones! Here are a few tips on catching a real "Gator" trout.
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Catching Big Spring Seatrout
By Captain Keith Kalbfleisch
Many of my clients would like to catch a big Seatrout, but these fish are extremely spooky and difficult to catch--especially on lures or a fly. Here are some tips to help you catch a big springtime seatrout.
Every year as our blustery winter leaves and spring starts, the big seatrout have a predictable behavior--they will move from deeper water up into the shallows to feed. I suspect that it is more than just feeding activity, but spawning also, however, not being a biologist I will speak more to behavior than the "why" of the behavior. I usually look for this in March and April, but it happens earlier when it starts to warm up and the mornings are calm.
When looking for big trout (and I consistently get fish in the 7-10 lb range every year), I love the early spring. The trout will group up into what I call "wolf packs" of 5-50 fish to hunt the flats. On calm, cool mornings you will see them moving, or spook them from in front of the boat. May inexperienced anglers in our area mistake these fish for redfish, since they are big and fast, but many of them are big trout.
These trout behave quite differently than their juvenile counterparts that you will find on the deeper flats (3-4 feet of water). They are extremely spooky and you must adjust your techniques to catch them. First--stealth, stealth, stealth! Approach your fishing area in the deep water and shut down your main motor at least a couple of hundred yards away from where you plan to fish. Then use your electric or pole to get into the target area.
When fishing, pole or drift along at a slow speed in about a foot of water (for those of you without a poling platform, use a short pole and pole the boat backwards from the front of the boat--it is what we all used to do before poling platforms). Try to not have any wakes or hull slap to notify the fish that you are there--slow is the rule. I would rather have you fish a small area slowly and thoroughly rather than cover a bunch of water. You will catch more and bigger fish.
I primarily use soft lures in any green/white combination this time of year. Look for colors like “Arkansas Shiner”, “Pumpkin Seed”, “Baby Bass”, “Watermelon Seed”, “Mullet”, etc. One of my favorites is a Bass Pro Shops "Twin-tailed Shad" in the "Mullet" color. It has great color, action, and a prominent eye). These are rigged "Texas-style" with little or no weight, with about 2 feet of 15-20 lb fluorocarbon, and 8 lb braid. This allows a long cast (needed to reach the fish before they know you are there), and a soft entry by the lure to keep from spooking them.
The lures should be worked with a "twitch", jerking them about a foot, and then allowing them to sink between the twitches. The most common mistake made is to reel too much, not allowing the lure to sink between twitches. You want the lure to “dance” in the water, imitating something that is trying to get away, but can’t because it is wounded.
If you see fish moving away from the boat, try to lead them by at least 10 feet, then twitching it as they go by. If you were moving slowly enough, hopefully they won’t be too spooked.