Catching Trout 101

Out of all of the inshore food and game species, the Spotted seatrout is one of the most abundant in our estuaries and lagoons. It is an added benefit that seatrout are also excellent table fare. Here is everything you need to know before planning your next seatrout outing.

Inshore trout fishing.  

When to Find Seatrout

Spotted seatrout are unique in that they essentially spend their entire life cycle within the estuary they were born in. This is rather rare for most of the species we think of as being “estuarine” – many of them use estuaries during certain life stages. They have a long spawning season – essentially spring through fall – and so do not form thick aggregations as other fish do in narrow spawning seasons.

Where to Catch Seatrout

Where to catch seatrout will depend on the season, time of day, and tidal cycles. In the spring and fall, water temperatures are agreeable for the seatrout, and their movements will be more so based on the time of day and tidal cycles. The fish will generally be shallow first thing in the morning, or when tides are not moving, and then move into the seagrass depressions and edges during moving tides in order to ambush prey. In the summer and fall their movements are based on water temperatures (which of course tides can play of role). In summer, the fish will be shallow first thing in the morning, and move into the deeper waters by midday, whereas in the winter it will be the exact opposite, with fish deeper in the morning and evenings, only venturing shallow during the warmer midday.

Tackle for Seatrout

Choosing the right tackle for seatrout is fairly uncomplicated when it comes to inshore fish. Since they can be targeted using a wide variety of techniques – from topwater plugs to deepwater spoons – a medium action rod is perfect for an all around equal approach.

Types of rods for seatrout. “Power” is defined as the force to bend the rod. Power equates to stiffness. “Action” is how deep the rod bends. Action equals flexibility.

Spinning Tackle for Seatrout

A medium spinning reel, spooled with 6-to-12 pound line, and a generally fast gear-ratio is good for seatrout, since they are not the most powerful fish in the world. The faster gear ratio will allow you to retrieve lures faster for those active summer trout, and get them to the boat faster. Or, if feeling very sporty, have an Ultralight setup on board with as low as 2-pound test, which makes even the smallest schooling fish a blast.

Baitcasting Tackle for Seatrout

A baitcasting setup can come in handy when you need to cast far and accurately. Whereas the seatrout is not the most powerful fighting fish, a baitcasting reel is also good for catching fish near structures such as docks and mangroves, where the extra leverage is good for pulling out the fish.

Conventional rod and reel for seatrout.

Using Flyrods to Catch Seatrout

Use an 8-to-10 weight flyrod for seatrout. You may be thinking you could get away with a much smaller weight rod, which is true, but the larger weight rod will allow you to cast heavier line to get a farther cast. You may also be glad you brought the larger gear when that 15-pound “Gator” trout takes the fly.

Baits for Seatrout

Spotted seatrout undergo a change in diet as they grow – as juveniles their diet is primarily shrimp, but this changes into a primarily fish diet once the fish grow past a certain size. In other words, shrimp is still a part of a large seatrout’s diet, but using fish as bait will get more bites from the big ones, rather than having the small schooling fish annihilate your shrimp each cast.

Natural baits for seatrout.

Lures for Seatrout

A wide variety of lures work great for seatrout. They are very aggressive, and although not the strongest fighters when on the line, have impressively strong strikes.

Spoon lures. Gold spoons work well also.

Topwater lures, especially when “walking the dog,” are great in shallow water, while silver spoons and jigs are good in deeper water.

The Online Fisherman

GHM logo