For many anglers, sea trout fishing is more than fun. In fact, sea trout happen to be one of the most sought after game fish on the planet. Anglers find it incredibly enjoyable to reel in a nice catch.
Some fishermen would agree that these fish can be difficult to catch. They’re a lot like salmon because they’re migratory fish. They spend nearly half of the year feeding in the sea, and they return each summer to spend time in the river.
Depending on how you look at them, sea trout are a lot like brown trout and salmon. It can be very difficult to lure such a fish during the light of summer, but it’s certainly not impossible. If you’re looking to catch some sea trout, there are some things you need to know.
Understanding Spotted Sea Trout
This fish is especially popular in Florida, mostly because it makes it easy for anglers to catch at least a dozen or more of the fish with ease. You can find these fish inside of the western Atlantic, from New York all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.
You’ll also find them in the inland salt waters of many states. Despite what some people might’ve told you, these fish are quite accessible. You can motor, paddle, pole or wade sea grass flats to find and catch them. The adults love to eat small fish and shrimp.
What should you use to catch them, you say? Soft-bodied plastic jigs and hard-bodied top water plugs can work well. There are many other artificial lures that work very well when fishing for sea trout. Speckled or speckle sea trout like water temperatures to be between 58 and 81 degrees.
If caught by surprise in shallow water when a cold front hits, these fish might pass away. During the colder months, they move away from the shallow grass beds and into deep canals and holes, which is where the water is warmer. They’re a favorite game fish for winter anglers.
Whenever possible, you should try to catch these fish in low light conditions. You’ll find that they bite more when the sky is filled with clouds rather than bright sunlight.
When the weather is pleasant, try to fish in the grassy flats. During extreme hot or cold weather, fish near dock shadows, canals and deeper water. Spotted sea trout prefer temperate climates, like bonefish, so fall and spring are your best friends when trying to catch them.
As is the case with many other types of fish, big bait equates to bigger fish. These fish prefer grass flats and spend most of their life cycle in these areas.
Unlike the snook, which have a much wider sweep, sea trout don’t have as much movement. They’re inshore raptors or apex predators and feed along the whole water column by grabbing prey with their fanged mouth. On average, they’re one to three pounds.
Proven Tactics for Catching Them
Need some proven techniques for catching these little buggers? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Also called spotsides or specks, these trout are typically found along the Gulf States.
There is a fairly large distribution of these fish along the southeastern corner of the U.S. Put simply; this is a stretch of fishable inshore water that spans from the Carolinas through the Texas Gulf Coast.
An especially great location to go to catch these guys is Campeche, Mexico. In Florida, these fish are the most sought after of any inshore game fish. However, redfish are on their way to bump sea trout out of the number one spot.
Techniques to Use
Now, let’s get right into the techniques that you can use to catch them. While there are many specialized techniques that you can use to hunt these fish, there are four general, proven approaches available to you. Some techniques might use a combination of these four major approaches, which are chumming, casting, wading and drifting.
How to Use Drifting
Here is the classic method used to catch these fish. It consists of letting a breeze-driven vessel slowly troll the offerings on the windward side.
There are some anglers who think this technique causes the vessel to move over the fish and spook them, but as long as the baits are fished far away enough from the boat, the trout are given ample opportunity to regroup.
It’s recommended to use a popping float for this technique because it will entice the trout that do get spooked or draw new fish onto the scene. If you want to cover a lot of water, drifting is an excellent technique to use.
It’s also great when the bottom is too soft to get in there and wade. Unfortunately, this technique will only work when there is a breeze. Soft plastic swim bait with a light-weighted jig head is a great setup for this technique.
How to Use Casting
Another effective technique for catching sea trout is casting. It consists of focused casting into mullet muds or potholes, and it’s performed from within a vessel.
You can use electric motors or poling as your propulsion. Many anglers prefer poling because it’s much quieter than an electric motor. Poling is especially beneficial when fishing very shallow grassflats for huge game trout.
Mullet muds are basically areas of stirred up bottom that clouds the water column. It’s caused by mullet feeding. The stirring kicks up many types of edible organisms, which draw the sea trout in.
You should aim to cast into the freshest, densest portions of the mud. You can also cast into visible potholes, but you’ll need artificial lures, such as the YUM brand of plastic baits. However, for targeted casting, many anglers prefer the Money Minnow style.
How to Use Wading
Over time, the use of wading to catch speckled trout has increased significantly. The only issue is that it can only be used when the bottom can support your weight. Unfortunately, a lot of trout bottom cannot support such weight.
Another issue with wading is that it requires a boat to move from one spot to the next. Fatigue and deep channels will prevent you from covering a lot of ground with wading.
Wading does, however, provide a far better level of stealth than what would be possible with a poled or drifting vessel. Since wading allows you to get lower in the water, you’re far more camouflaged. The technique of wading should be slow and precise.
The fish you’re going after are attracted to loud pops because they interpret such noise as feeding activity, but they will flee from the large pressure wave produced by something large moving through the water.
How to Use Chumming
While some anglers might not believe in this technique, it can be just as effective for catching sea trout as it is for mackerel, but the tide, current and direction convergence of the wind need to be right.
If you want chumming to work for trout, you need to allow the scent and small bits of ground fish to draw the fish. It will pull them in using a double-chum situation.
Put simply, the chumming draws in pinfish, which will surround the boat and draw the spotted trout in for dinner.
Once their attention is fathered, you need to fish finish baits, such as mullet strips, behind the clouds of pinfish gathering on the stern of the boat. These are the four proven methods that simply WORK for sea trout fishing.