Saltwater Fishing: Speckled Trout Tactics
Wintertime in central Florida means many things to saltwater anglers, one of which is large and abundant speckled trout. After their 2 months of protection of harvest by the closing of trout season, they are feeding relentlessly and are ripe for the catching.
Tackle to be used for these fish is typically light and allows for a lot of play. As for rods, you should use a 7' light to medium action rod paired with a 2500 series reel. For line you should use 10-15lb braid. The braid I have found to work the best is Spider-Wire Invisi-braid. My personal trout setup is a 7' light action Hurricane Redbone paired with a 2500 shimano stradic and it does wonders for these fish.
When targeting these delicious and beautiful fish, many things come into play, the first of which, being location.
Fishing, like real estate, is all about location, location, location. You can have the best tackle, the best bait, and the best presentation, but if you are in a bad location you won't catch fish. Speckled trouts favorite habitat is hidden in sea grass waiting to ambush their prey. You should look for sea grass bed with small patches of sand mixed in as well as holes and depressions in the ground. These spots will hold large trout as they set up great ambush points for the trout to feed. Sometimes a good tactic to find trout holes is to drift a flat while making casts and anchor up when you hook a fish.
Another great spot for trout in the winter are residential docks with underwater lights. These are havens for trout and they simply love to cruise through these green lights at night picking off shrimp that float by. Simply anchor up-current of the lights and pitch baits in and you're sure to catch fish.
Next, once you have the location down, you need to know what bait to use in what situation. There are two main styles of baits used for trout, live and artificial. When to use one or the other depends on experience and temperature. In temperatures of 60 degrees and below, live shrimp seems to work better than artificials as the trout are less willing to chase down their prey. The shrimp should be hooked through the tail with a #2 circle hook on 3 feet of 20 pound fluorocarbon leader. They can then be casted and slowly retrieved, pausing every so often. Another live bait is pinfish, which work best rigged the same as above only put a cork just far enough up so that the pinfish sits just above the grass and doesn't dig down too far.
Artificials are more successful in covering a lot of ground and when water temperatures are slightly warmer. The most successful bait would have to be the Gulp products. Any style will work but my favorites are the shrimp and the swimming mullet. These rigged on a 1/4oz jig-head slowly bounced along the bottom help to quickly locate trout. Another lure for trout is any soft dart style lure rigged on a 1/8oz weedless jerk-bait hook. A great trout lure is the MirrOLure MirrODine in a dark green or chartreuse color. Lastly, any shrimp imitation works well as shrimp is one of trouts favorite prey. Some good ones are DOA Shrimp as well as the Gulp Shrimp.
After the bait and location are locked in, presentation is the next key to success. Your presentation will vary depending on what bait you are using. With live bait, presentation is very easy. Simply hook the shrimp in the tail and cast it toward your target and let it sit while slowly reeling it in. As for artificials the general technique is after you cast, reel at a slow to medium pace while occasionally twitching the tip to make the lure "jump" up or side to side. When you twitch the rod, it is best to stop reeling as this is when the trout will hit. Also, when using these techniques, fish it like you know it will work, because if you don't have confidence, you won't catch fish.
If you correctly combine these three components, you will catch more trout than you can handle. Keep in mind that trout need to be between 15" and 20" and you can keep four per day with one over twenty inches. However, it is best to throw the ones over 20" back because they are the breeding fish and help make more trout. Anyway, get out there and get on some of these fine eating fish!
And after you catch your limit of Speckled Trout, make sure you know how to clean and cook them! Visit my hub on how to fillet fish quickly and easily as well as how to prepare them.
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