The majority of the Trout that we have caught lately were found in the grass flats of Sarasota and Tampa Bay that span into deep water. I have noticed that the smaller fish have been holding in 4-6ft of water, while the over slot fish have been holding in 1-2 ft of water.
Understanding tides plays and integral role in successfully targeting larger Speckled Sea Trout. I have had the greatest success on the incoming tides. The game plan… Start at a depth of 1-2 feet and follow the incoming tide, always maintaining the optimal 1-2 foot depth. Reason, predators will also follow the incoming tide onto the grass flat as the water level rises. Because there are so many places where these fish can be found on a flat, it is important to look for points of interest, such as mangrove islands, oyster bars, creek mouths, sand bars and pot holes.
Another important factor that plays a big role in successfully targeting large trout are changes in Barometric pressure. A bright blue sky doesn’t always mean it’s going to be good day fishing. Do your research on Barometric pressure and find yourself catching more fish.
As the season transitions to summer, get ready to switch gears in the upcoming months. Trout and Snook will start making their way to beach. You will find them in the surf and around structure; target rock piles, piers, and grass flats off the beaches to find the fish. I have had great success using small light colored baits, such as a DOA shad tail on a ¼oz jig head. Even though I prefer using artificial lures, these fish can also be successfully targeted using live bait.
When it comes to tackle, I prefer7’6” medium light power rods with a fast action equipped with 2500-3000 series reels spooled with 10lb braid and 15lb to 20lb fluorocarbon leader. If you know the fish are there but are not getting many bites, do not be afraid to scale down your leader.
The lighter the leader the more strikes you will draw, but it could also result in you breaking off more fish. Keep in mind that it is possible to land those big Trout and Snook on 20lb fluorocarbon.
When locating fish I like to work lures in various depths of the water column. I bounce DOA soft plastics off the bottom, work the middle of the water column with a suspending MirrOdine MirrOlure, and I use a Heddon Spook Jr to cover the surface of the water column.
Fishing will be at its best in the next few months, so make sure to get out on the water and enjoy the excellent fishery that West Coast of Florida has to offer.
About the Author: Steve Gibson is a SW Florida native fishing the beautiful waters of Sarasota & Tampa Bay. He operates Shallow Pockets Fishing which is Sarasota's premier kayak guide service with over 20 years of fishing experience. He specializes in targeting Snook,Redfish Trout & Tarpon throughout his region. He is a member of team Florida Paddle Sports & Reellife Gear.