Speckled Sea Trout

by: Capt. Bart Marx

Hello fellow anglers, looking back at the fishing we had to rebound from the red tide and its aftereffects. Fish and Wildlife (FWC) changed some rules and reversed others. The state adjusted the length and bag limit in our area for speckled sea trout in SW Florida with a length / slot now being 15″ to 19″ and the bag limit is 3 per person or 6 per boat total. They still will let us have what I call a trophy one per person over the 19″ length. You have a nice 24″ fish and 2 between 15″ and 19″ that is your limit of 3 fish per person. And this month is a great time to target trout. There are several ways that you can target trout. They like to hang around grass flats and the edges of a sandbar and I like to drift over the grass along the areas that have patchy grass and sand holes. Trout like to lay along the edges of the grass as they blend in very well, this is where they like to ambush unsuspecting baits. You can use suspending lures like the Mirro Lure, mirrodine or catch 2000 both work well. Then there is the good old popping cork. You can find wooden ones, foam ones with wire or beads in them. I use a simple cigar bobber, buy the ones with the slot in it . This way you just keep a couple of them in your boat when you need it, pull the pins and slide it onto your line and adjust the depth you want your bait from the bobber put the pins back you are in business. No cutting and retying add a live shrimp on or even a Gulp shrimp. Drifting over the area you have scoped out, cast and pop the cigar bobber on the surface. So my theory is if you pop the cork it sounds like a fish feeding on the surface, this gets the attention of the trout and all they see is a shrimp drifting down, or a gulp. This is food for them they will grab it and it is game on. Trout have a tender mouth if you pull them in too fast they will break off. Just use a little finesse, hold your rod tip up and reel enough to keep some bend in the pole and tension in the line. If you handle them, always wet your hands to hold them. Do not use a rag. It takes most of the slime off the fish and there is a good chance it will get bacteria and not survive. I use the danco de-hooker made for baits on a Sabiki rig as it fits in your pocket and used properly there is minimal impact to the fish. When you bring the fish up to the boat, have the line in one hand with the fish on it and using your other hand with the de-hooker, the curved part of the tool slides down the line to the curved part of the hook. This is when you hold the fish between your hands hanging, pull the line tight so it makes a straight line and tight. Flip the fish over into the water as the tool is still kept tight and straight. If it is of size use a tool to hold the fish to measure it and be as gentle as you can with these as they are our future stock. After you catch a few you will be able to tell if they are of size or not. Trout are good eating fish. To me they are great fried in butter with salt and pepper, maybe a little garlic too.