Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spotted Sea Trout: Florida's Easiest Gamefish

In Florida, spotted sea trout are flat fishing’s version of the bluegill pond. They’re found everywhere on both coasts year round. They only get a little scarce down in the Lower Keys. As a shallow water fish, anyone can access them with or without a boat. Here on the west coast simply wading from shore is one of the most popular way of fishing for sea trout. Hop into a kayak and you’re even more effective.

The other reason I call them Florida’s easiest game fish is their eagerness to hit almost anything. Toss a live shrimp under a cork and it’s gone within seconds on a good grass flat. Since fly fishing is my preferred method, I use a seven weight rod with a variety of streamer patterns. Here around Pine Island a green and white Clouser minnow can get a strike on every cast in many places. Two days ago I landed thirty trout in just over an hour. Only one of them was over fifteen inches, the minimum legal size, but I wasn’t out there looking for records. Constant action in stead of quality is what I’m looking for some days.

Sea trout are the perfect target for an angler with absolutely no saltwater experience or gear. A five or six weight fly rod will cast a #4 Clouser with no problem. Your click-drag freshwater reel rigged with floating line is more than enough for any sea trout you’re likely to find in Florida. With a tapered twelve pound leader you can strip these fish in by hand. Sea trout have a great strike but are not a strong running fish. They spend most of their energy thrashing on the surface and I’ve never had one get into the backing on my reel.

In case you’re worried about freshwater gear in the salt, don’t be. Any rod or reel made in the last ten years can handle a saltwater environment as long as it’s cleaned at the end of the day. Drop the reel, line and all, into a sink filled with warm water and dish soap for a few minutes and that will dissolve any salt crystals.