Technically, the spotted sea trout that live in the saltwater lagoons around Florida's coastlines are not a true trout, but a sub-species of the weakfish that many north easterner's call weakies. Florida's sea trout belong in the croaker family and typically have less oil in their flesh than their northern counterparts, but their meat is mild, delicate and flaky and is excellent eating when you treat it with care as it will often fall apart on the grill with most ending up on the fire if you don't take precautions.
There are many ways for anglers to pursue the sea trout, but one of the favorites is to put on a popping cork with a live shrimp or immataion below it and drift across the clear grassflats that border much of Florida's coast. You typically don't catch trophy sea trout with this method, but you can make up for quality with sheer quantities as some days you'll put over 100 fish in the boat if the conditions are right.
Catching quality sea trout can be done on artificials and live baits, with live bait producing the lions share of the biggest trout. Trout will bite top waters readily and numerous subsurface lures from softbaits to spoons, in my experience the presentation makes the difference on the bite. Big trout can be very spooky in shallow water and long cast with subtle lures seem to get the best results. If you want topwater action, you might try using some of the jerkbaits without a weight and very light line (6 pound or less) to get the distance to cast beyond the fish and bring the lure into the where they are.
For myself, live baiting sea trout with some sort of finfish allways produces the biggest trout. Try using pilchards or finger mullet and if you can't get them, pigfish, small croakers or pinfish can work well if you can keep them out of the weeds with a cork (use a low profile cork as they often spook some of the bigger fish).
After the Net Ban in 1992, the sea trout fishing has sprung back to life and is on it's way to recovery if we take care of Florida's shallow water lagoons and sea grass beds. East Central Florida was once known as the Sea Trout Capital of the World and many world records are held there. If it's big Florida sea trout you want... Give us a shout and we'll do our best to put you on the bite.
Probably the best time for sea trout in east central Florida is during the late winter or early spring when the trout are ready to spawn. The fish have moved out from their winter haunts and prior to the spawn they are hungry and chauking up the calories for the big event. The winter months have less food source and trout are naturally hungry anyways, it's a great time to put a morsel of food infront of them and watch it happen. Spawning sea trout also congregate in schools to spawn and are competative and less shy when spawning. One great thing about the trout is that they feed pre- post- and during the spawning event so you generally don't have any down time during this time period.
Growing up on the Indian and Banana River Lagoons as a young boy, I was told the name of Florida's sea trout was speckled sea trout. As I grew older I came to a realization (with the assistance of others) that "speckled" was more of a Florida Cracker term that rednecked fisherman used than an educated man like myself should use. After all, I didn't want to be made an example out of from Larry the Cable Guy or Jeff Foxworthy.
You know you're a redneck if... You call a sea trout speckled instead of spotted. After going to college, I couldn't relapse into my old redneck uneducated ways and say "speckled" it had to be "spotted". Heck! many of my angling friends just called them specks, not to be confused with speckled perch or crappie, but I'm not gonna open up that can-o-worms. The Florida Wildlife Commision has them listed on their website as Spotted, and several scientific ichtheology websites have them listed as croakers (some rednecks call them grunts, but we won't go there either).
Whether you call them speckled or spotted, it really doesn't matter and I don't think anyone really cares one way or another, especially the sea trout. But then again those Yankees up north call them weakfish.... We'll have to visit this one again on another day. Weakfish! hmmm...
As always I look forward to hearing from many of you soon, if you need to contact Captain Gina and settup a charter please call her at (321) 868-4953 or just fill out the form on the left.
"We often have the prettiest days of the year on January and I like to get into my skimpiest bikini and go for a day of fishing with my fishing guide husband Captain Richard and catch some nice sea trout while I tone up my wintertime tan before the spring arrives." explains Gina as she displays a couple of nice trout before releasing back into the clear Florida waters.
The best sea trout fishing in the world lies between Fort Pierce and the Mosquito Lagoon on Florida's East Coast. Finding big sea trout is best done in the cooler months of the year from late September and into late May. The summertime sea trout bite is often at night or for the first few minutes in the morning when the sun is not heating things up too much.