To think that our inshore fishing season has been this good the past several months, and continues to be as great as the weather, and that tarpon season is almost upon us, makes me darn glad I'm a South-west Florida angler.
The trophy-sized trout continue to roam the flats waiting for your jig or fly to come their way.
After catching hundreds of 12-inch schoolies, your first gator of five pounds or better will give you a new appreciation of the spotted sea trout's fighting abilities.
Capt. George Tunison
When looking for a trophy class trout, I typically relocate if all I'm catching are juveniles. I'm looking for clear grass flats interspaced with sandy potholes in 10 inches to two feet of water.
Right now, light jigheads and soft plastics like CAL jigs, DOA Shrimp, and soft jerk baits are working great along with the same spoons I'm casting for redfish. (For trout I'm fishing 10- to12-pound fluorocarbon leaders on very light spinning rods and even lighter on fly rod tippets.)
Many trophy trout hunters like first-light fishing using big topwater plugs and it's definitely a time honored way to bag a bragging sized trout.
Not known as a typical lure for trout, a big flats gator will climb all over a redfish spoon. Never count out a slowly twitched MirrOlure, MirrOdine or MirrOminnow on a light fluorocarbon leader.
Quite honestly, trout are voracious feeders. A popping cork and shrimp or plastic certainly will put smiles on faces. Its really not rocket science. Fish quietly and you will score.
Please, as always, handle trout (or better yet, not handle trout) with care. Handling fine scaled delicate fish like spotted sea trout should be done with wet hands, not wrapped in towels, drug up the beach or held down on the boat floor with your size 16 Croc.
Trophy fish pass on trophy genes. Give them a break. Keep a limit of legal fish, but snap a pic of your gator and gently release to breed. With the sheer abundance of trout available to harvest it seems silly to kill the trophies that make future trophies.
The redfishing continues to be good on the grass flats and around the bushes. While doing so, Mr. Snook may show up anywhere or anytime and gladly inhale your redfish (or trout) offering, be it dead bait on the bottom or a Zara Spook walking the dog on the surface.
That's when I go into leader panic mode as I pray for my lighter redfish leader to hold around the sharp gills and raspy teeth of the snook. Serious night time trophy snook addicts looking for that one snook of a lifetime in and around dock or bridge structure, will be using leader lines testing from 60- to 100-pound material so as to be able to get a real shot at landing Mr. Big.
Right now, these same local structures are holding Goliath grouper and 60-pound leader material suddenly feels like six-pound when that happens, but it will step up your heart rate considerably.
We are seeing a fair amount of various sharks on the flats, some in really thin water. Anchor and broadcast some fish chunks. Sit back and wait and you may be rewarded with something a little more intense than the average 24-inch redfish bite. Be prepared to catch rays, cats, reds, even a snook while waiting.
Speaking of sharks, anglers that like wade fishing can sometimes have the edge over boat bound anglers. No hull slap from waves giving away your presence or Uncle Fred stumbling around the boat.
With your profile now reduced by say two or three feet it's a productive way to catch reds. Wear ray proof footgear or be sorry.
Wading in shark waters while redfishing with bleeding fish tied to me never sounded quite right. Maybe it's just me.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.