Some tips on fishing for trout in local waters
Those who fished for seatrout this past week in north Matlacha Pass found tons of bait fish, clean water and lots of willing trout — in fact, some of the best trout fishing I’ve seen in quite a while. Those who chose to head south of the bridge found low oxygen content, decomposing algae stained water and absent fish.
What was the best bait for these northern trout? Almost any lure or fly in your box, from popping corks with plastic shrimp or jig suspended below, top water plugs, twitch baits, jig heads and plastic grubs or any fly cast near a bait pod, produced large numbers of quality sized seatrout.
Big schools of bait not only attracted the trout but an army of ladyfish also joined in on the feast. To cut down on ladyfish catches when pursuing trout, fish close to the bottom in the trout zone. Small lures that are retrieved quickly and stay up high in the water column are quickly eaten by the ravenous ladyfish.
Trout hunters looking for a lure-fooled, gator-sized trophy get to their hot spots very early and fully understand that real trophy specimens are as skittish as Keys bonefish. Slamming a hatch lid, unnecessary rocking of the boat and even loud talking on a dead still morning in skinny water can alert these nervous trophies, quickly sending them to a different ZIP code, leaving only the little guys to play with your lures.
To help put the odds in your favor, shut down the big motor 100 yards away and wind drift or pole to your hot spot, or use the electric on slow speed to get there.
What’s the best lure to use to catch your over 5 pound Southwest Florida trophy trout? We all have our favorites but if I was limited to one lure, it would be a very large, top water plug, fished slowly before sun up. Reach for the biggest top water plug in your box and start casting. Too big you say? Nonsense, a 7-pound trout can take down a 12-inch mullet in one bite so your oversized plug will not only attract the bigger fish, but also help keep the juvenile trout from ruining your trophy hunt.
Trophy class trout over 5 pounds aren’t common in Southwest Florida so take great care of these rather delicate fish by never handling them with dry hands, wet or dry towels or any type of rough treatment.
North Matlacha Pass is also a good bet for an early morning tarpon hunt. Stake out and look for rollers to cast to, or wind drift or quietly troll motor through a hot zone, pulling a couple of live baits behind the boat while casting gold, white or silver flake DOA Baitbusters ahead of the boat.
A little courtesy goes a long way. If you see someone staked out or poling waiting for a shot at a passing wad of tarpon, please give them plenty of room so as to not spook their fish.
Many Boca Grande tarpon have left the pass to summer over along the coast or chase huge bait schools in Charlotte Harbor while avoiding becoming shark snacks.
Find the bait schools by locating diving birds using your binoculars or spotting rolling tarpon backs shining in the morning sun. If you find large schools of bait, quietly fish around the edges of the school. Driving through the bait school will scatter the school and the predators below it ruining your chances of hooking up.
Having closed to harvest seasons these past years have allowed snook and trout numbers to greatly increase. Redfish haven’t done as well. One way the angler can help is to join and support the CCA of Florida. They continue work with the Duke Energy Mariculture Center to restock our dwindling redfish population. In 2019 the CCA released 34,000 reds into Southwest Florida waters. Join today! (ccaflorida.org
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. You can contact him at 239-282-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org.