Springtime Sea Trout

by: Alex Gorichky

March is typically a month of transition on the Space Coast, though this has certainly not been your typical central Florida winter. Some late fronts will most certainly sweep down the peninsula, and our early spring winds from the south will work hard to bring the water back to our lagoons. The water temperature on the beaches never got cold this winter so the chance of cobia off the beaches early is very good. In fact, a few have been seen already along with the bait pods that never left for the winter and its mid-February! Be sure to have your gear ready and take a shot if the seas look right. I’ll hit the cobia tips next month for kayak anglers headed to the space coast.

The highlight of March kayak fishing on both east and west coast la- goons is the start of springtime spotted sea trout spawning. Dust off those topwater plugs and hit those flats early as they warm through- out the month. Days around the moon events (new and full) can fill a flat with trout from the 18 to 22 inch male suitors, to the 26 inch plus “Gator-sized” females. These highly carnivorous croakers have evolved into an apex position on the lagoons of east and west central Florida. The spotted sides of the sea trout are dark on top and mirrored on its flanks. This allows the trout to “lay” in thick sea grass undetected by prey. Then with a great burst they utilize their K-9 like fangs and up-slung mouths to blast pray or lures from below. This makes the sea trout perfect for one of my favorite types of fishing; plugging with walk-the-dog topwater lures. Many manufactures produce the lures known to do the side to side motion that really seems to get the trout going. I tend to stick to a few rules when picking a plug. First; I like to use a loud rattle and a larger plug (5 inches plus) when the water has a chop on it, but when the lagoon is slick calm and still I use a smaller (3 inch) plug with little or no rattle noise. Second; I typically choose among four base colors of red head/white body, chartreuse/white, bone/white, and natural/ mullet. All will work at times so I tend to carry a variation of each. I never jump in my kayak without a sea trout colored plug, because these fish are highly predatory and by nature cannibalistic. Another consideration when sea trout fishing is their soft delicate mouth. Many hooks are pulled on big trout from setting the hook too hard, heavy drags, and heavy handed fighting. I prefer to use mono line when plugging for sea trout or when using braid, extend the leader to twice the size and use mono leader.

Early in the spring can be great on those warm evenings with southerly winds. As the sun falls the trout will turn on. Towards the end of the month look to the predawn morning magic to happen, but this bite will typically shut down after sun gets up a bit. All sea trout over the 24 inch range are females thus the breeders of our rebounding stocks. I tend to photo release all larger females, not to mention the prevalence of parasitic worms in the larger sea trout’s flesh make it less desirable table fare. How do you know it’s a female? Any trout over 25 inches is likely 100% female, push that size past 26 inches and you’re guaranteed it’s a girl!