by Keith Lozott,
Early summer can be when you land that “Monster Gator” trout of the year, but you better get out there early. Launching the skiff before sunrise makes for a tired night after a long day of catching the big spotted ones. I like to start the morning off with a top-water, walking the dog style plug, such as a Zara Spook Jr., a Rapala Skitter Walk, a MirrOlure Top Dog, or Top Dog Jr. Once you locate mullet schools on the flats and fish the edges of the bait pod, you will be likely to hookup. I like to use braided line, 10-20 lb. test, with a 20-30 lb. fluorocarbon leader just in case a nice red or snook gets in the game. Big trout are very aware of their surroundings, including the presence of anglers and their boats. If the opportunity to wade is available, take it. If wading isn’t an option, a quiet approach is essential to landing a big one. If you’re using a trolling motor, make sure you keep the motor at a slow steady speed.
Summertime is when floating grass becomes a problem on the surface and can kill the top-water quest for gator trout. I like to use weedless 1/8 oz. weighted Owner Keeper Hooks hooked in my favorite plastics when the grass is killing my love of surface bait fishing. D.O.A. Cal’s in Shad Tail, Split Tail, and Paddle Tail patterns are ideal. Another great bait is the Exude D.A.R.T., rigged weedless and weighted. This type of fishing will work both early and later into the morning. This tactic will produce healthy strikes from reds and snook. As the water temperature rises, move to the drop off edges in the 2-4 ft. range with sandy pothole bottoms and seagrass. A lot of anglers prefer the 3-4 ft. range, but I like to target the 2 ft. range as well because some big reds move into that depth when the water warms up. I also feel that “big trout” like that depth and the smaller sized fish move a little deeper.
Never discount the late afternoon once the thunderstorms have subsided and the sun is close to setting. I have personally stayed out so late that I thought my wife was going to leave me when I got home. We hooked into an epic 4:30-7:30 PM trout bite on the Indian River that we named “Trout City” afterwards. The same concepts apply to the evening bite as the morning bite, but in the evening I focus on deeper water that is closer to the shoreline accompanied by grass and sand holes. The deeper water is cooler for the fish and if bait is present the trout will be there. I use the same baits, but switch up the colors depending on the sunlight, clouds, etc. If you have good light and limited clouds use “darker” offerings at dusk. Now get out there and catch some fish!
The Fishing and Real Estate Guy!